Media relations gurus will be the first to tell you that the world “no” is very common in the world of PR. Let’s face it, publicists outnumber journalists 5:1, which means there are consistently more stories being pitched (in some cases over 100 a day) than there is room for stories to be told.
That being said, it’s no surprise journalists will look for reasons not to run stories, but that doesn’t mean you should always take their first response to be the end of the discussion. Below are our three PR tips for turning a no into a yes.
1. Try a Different Angle
Scenario: A couple months ago, I pitched an outlet for a client that I thought was a perfect fit. The outlet wasn’t large, but had an audience base that was perfect for my client to share knowledge as a thought leader. Within a few hours of sending the pitch, I got a response: there was no interest in covering my client for a feature – it just wasn’t something the outlet did.
Solution: While that can be disheartening to receive such an immediate decline, the reason why left a window unlocked. It was clear the host wasn’t completely sold on how his audience would benefit from having my client on. That meant a quick, thoughtful response of how he could benefit having my client on, not as a feature, but a thought leader. Bingo! Three weeks later we had an interview complete, and the journalist praised me to the client.
Moral: If there’s a reason attached with the ‘no,’ examine it closely. There may be a different angle the journalist is looking for.
2. Be Steadfast
Scenario: Just this week, a media opportunity that I thought was ready to go almost fell through. Despite keeping the journalist up to date, there was a miscommunication which made him believe a similar story crossed out the need for his own story. After going back and forth, explaining the situation and the differences, we agreed to hold on to the piece for a later time; however, the client urged us to try one more time.
Solution: As requested, we went back to the journalist, stating the differences once more — and it was this last push that made the difference, and led the piece to stay as first agreed upon.
Moral: Always respond to the client’s wish while being steadfast in your reasoning. Had that last push not been made, the piece would have been held and lost its timeliness.
3. Be Consistent
Scenario: In a previous position, I pitched a group of producers regularly. Some answered, some did not … and when I say some did not, I mean, I pitched them a few times a month for two years straight, and never once did they respond despite follow ups. However, due to the nature of the client, I remained consistent in pitching them.
Solution: The longer I stayed in that role, the more I noticed a peculiar thing about this subset of producers. They would save my pitches, even if they never acknowledged receiving them, coming back to me months later with a story idea or expert interview request. This was especially true around any sort of breaking news situation.
Moral: Remain consistent! A non-answer is not necessarily a no, but may just be a ‘not right now.’
Have you ever turned a ‘no’ into a ‘yes’? What strategy did you use? Let us know in the comments below!