What to Do When the Media Isn’t Responding

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I really wish I had PR magic. If I could just snap my fingers to turn every pitch into a fantastic placement. That would be amazing, but unfortunately, not every pitch even gets a response.

Let me tell you, PR is a tricky thing.

The strategies I share in my workshops are the same strategies I use—successfully—for my clients. But every now and then, I send out a pitch with high expectations and end up getting crickets.

I am working on pitching a project right now that I thought would be a no-brainer. I expected to spend a week sending out pitches and the rest of the month fielding media requests.

Well, the opposite has been true. I have secured very few local opportunities and not a single national placement as I had hoped.

As a publicist, this can be disheartening because I have put hours and hours of work into the pitches and finding media contacts. But this is simply part of the earned media game. Not everyone is going to like your story idea!

Thinking about the small businesses who take my PR tips and don’t get the results they want, I just want to say “It’s okay, this happens, and there’s a solution for it!”

When the media doesn’t respond to a pitch, here are three things I do to get the story out there:.

1. Keep looking for new contacts & publications

I don’t think I have ever run out of people or publications to pitch for any of my clients. It doesn’t matter how niche the client is, there are always more ways to get published.

And with so many publications out there, there has to be someone interested in your story, right?

At the very least, this is my philosophy. So, keep searching and keep pitching.

Start with the publications you have already pitched and see if there is another writer that would make sense for your topic.

If your top choices of publications aren’t working out, try expanding your search. Cover your bases of national and local publications, online publications, blogs, and so on.

Don’t be afraid to reach out to other types of media too. Podcasts are huge! Some companies have content marketing programs that rival legit publications. And in some cases, I’ve even pitched my client to be included in a brands Instagram stories.

There’s really no end to how creative you can get.

2. Change up the story

Okay, so your first story idea fell flat. That doesn’t mean you should give up.

When this happens to me, I come up with another story idea.

For example, if I pitch a human-interest story for a local dance studio and the media doesn’t respond, I might switch it up to share the health benefits of dancing twice a week. A lot of the ideas from the human-interest story might even still be relevant, but the hook might better fit the editor’s priorities.

I try my best to pitch as many different versions of the story as I can. This keeps things fresh and interesting for your media contacts and increases your chances of getting a response.

3. Research your angle

Because you are coming up with a new story, you’re going to have to do your research all over again.

Ask yourself - what do I want to achieve with this story? What would the media outlet I’m pitching to want to gain with this story?

A few searches on Google can give you loads of information. Try to find out if the outlet you’re pitching to has posted similar stories before. Don’t pitch them the same story, but figure out how your angle can build on what they already have and cater to what their audience is interested in.

Don’t be afraid to really show that you are aware of what the particular media you’re pitching to represents.

4. Pick up the phone

If I am going to be completely honest, I have to tell you that I really don’t love making phone calls. I feel like I am probably annoying the other person on the line.

However, if I can bear picking up the phone, dialing the number, and getting through the awkwardness of talking to a stranger, I have found that this is sometimes the magic that is needed to actually get you through.

It is a lot easier to get explain your story better verbally than in a succinct email, and giving the contact a chance to ask questions and get answers in real time, gives you the opportunity to further clarify and customize your angle specifically for them.

5. Persevere

I think a big danger for DIY PR is that a business owner starts with high hopes, doesn’t hear anything back, and gives up. The thing is, I have been doing this for nine years and it still happens to me all the time.

So, that’s all I can say, don’t give up and use these strategies to keep trying!