How to turn a reporter’s ‘no’ into a ‘yes’

Pitching the press is fraught with rejection, but there are a few ways to lay the groundwork for future coverage.

Rejection is par for the course in public relations.

During your career, editors, reporters and producers will tell you no. (That is, if you hear back at all, but that’s another post.)

Don’t take it personally; media outlets receive hundreds (if not thousands) of emails and phone calls daily. They can’t answer—or say yes—to everybody.

However, when you receive some initial interest that ultimately turns into a no, there are ways to keep the conversation going, build a relationship and even turn that no into future coverage.

1. Don’t let the rejection hang there.

Always follow up with the reporter, even if just to say thank you or inquire further.

Following up serves a few purposes. First, it can create a rapport with the journalist. The next time you pitch him, he may recognize your name and be more likely to open your email. Second, it provides an opportunity to ask additional questions, which leads to my next tip …

2. Always ask, “Can you tell me what you are working on?”

Sometimes you’ll hear a no because the reporter doesn’t have time take on another story. See what else he’s working on, and if your client is a fit. There may be a chance he’s having trouble finding a source. You might want to do this by phone. Picking up the phone, while a bit daunting, can build a relationship quicker than email.

3. Offer yourself as a resource.

If you followed up, asked about other stories and still hear a no, offer to be a source. Journalists often lament PR people have a “me-first” attitude, so you are already one step ahead if you offer yourself and your client as resources.

4. Recommend another client.

Do you work on multiple accounts? If you have more than one client in the same industry, mention that they can be resources. Regularly check in as you build these relationships; you never know when a journalist will need a source or quote.

Media relations is not for the faint of heart. You may get rejected a lot before you finally land coverage. These tips will put you in a better position to turn that no into a yes.

A version of this article originally appeared on the Tech Affect blog.

Topics: PR

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