What to Do When You Get a “No”


One of my favorite things about of being a Public Relations professional is that you get the opportunity to wear a lot of different hats. We’re here to offer guidance for our clients on a range of programs varying from social media, to executive visibility and marketing plans. But, at the end of the day our bread and butter is media relations. It’s the main driver behind our field and the ultimate goal with nearly every plan we create. At times, I also find it one of the most challenging parts of our job. Our success can lie in the hands of media, and recently I have been forced to learn how to better handle the evil two-letter word, “NO.”

Working at an agency gives me the opportunity to work with a variety of accounts, which is one of my favorite aspect of my job because it allows me to be an “expert” in a number of different fields and challenges me to learn and build relationships with the target media for all of my accounts. Recently, I’ve had the exciting opportunity to work with a couple of new clients that are launching new products that are defining a new niche for its respected industry. While I find it extremely stimulating to be a part of this important time for the company and its product, it takes a lot of educating on our part to make sure the media we contact are fully aware of the benefits the product can provide for their readers/viewers, and explain how it’s different from similar products in the space.

PR professionals know first hand how busy reporters are and how many pitches they filter through daily, so its extremely important that we set ours apart from the noise, and with new products its even more important to speak to your target reporter on the phone to talk through the product rather than sending it in an email hoping they’ll understand your pitch exactly how its written.

What do you do when you know your product is a fit for a specific reporter or publication and you have the opportunity to talk them through the product, but they still give you the “it’s not a fit for me” or “I’m going to pass?” I’ve experienced this first-hand a couple of times recently and wanted to share a couple of recommendations that I have found helpful. I always find it helpful to get a third party point of view, someone that’s not too close to the account and can see my perspective as well as the reporter’s. For me, I turned to a couple of my genius coworkers at T/K to get their thoughts. With their help, I reworked my pitch to target a completely different beat and repositioned my efforts to reach a new audience, for example, changing from healthcare to parenting or lifestyle. Another suggestion is to look at the trends in the space to see if you can piggyback on one of those. Instead of pitching a story focused on your company, offer an industry wide issue and position your client/product as one of the solutions along with a few others that would be appropriate.

For one of our target publications, we were successful using these new strategies but are still actively following up others. We’ll let you know how it turns out.

Have you found yourself in a similar situation? How did you handle rejection?

By Colleen Murphy

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