As a junior PR practitioner, you may find yourself at the end of this question. You’ve drafted your amazing pitch, you’ve sent it through to your senior to proof read, and you have done your due diligence to find out what your media contact’s beat is. You then send through the finalised draft as a story pitch. What now?
1. Practice patience
Well at this point, you do the unthinkable, you simply wait it out. You practice that pesky virtue experienced seniors always talk about – patience. For just a little while, you practice patience. Depending on what kind of news media you pitched to, you’ll have to wait anywhere between two days to a full week before you get a response.
2. The art of the follow – up
The follow – up is just, if not as important as the pitch. Once you’ve waited a little while to hear from your media contacts, you have to go back and check up on them. See this as a little reminder for them. You need to understand that journalists/ editors/ editorial teams receive countless amounts of pitches on a daily basis, each one promising to be the next best story to hit their publication. So if you show up a week later with a friendly reminder of your story, they may take a second look at it and perhaps give your story a run.
3. Do not call the publication, I repeat do not call your media contact
It may seem like the next logical thing to do, however this is the opposite of what journalists would have you do. Journalist are always chasing deadlines, so the majority of their time is spent really on writing, submitting and editing their stories, they hardly have enough time to stop and chit chat. To be honest that is what you’d be doing by calling them up, chit chatting. They would remember your name, and dare I say deliberately block you from calling them ever again. Okay maybe they wouldn’t go to those extremes, but they would put up measures to ensure that you never pull a stunt like that ever again.
4. Move on
You’ve waited it out, you’ve followed-up and you’ve waited on the follow-up now you move on. There is one of two reasons why you’re not getting a response, the media contact will run your story, but has chosen not to respond back to you for whatever reason, or they just won’t run your story at all. You’ve spent an enormous amount of time on this story, so it’s best to move on to something else. A new media publication, a new story, or a new project altogether. To check if your pitch was picked up, keep purchasing the publication for the next three months religiously to see if you made it. It does happen that your story may be used for a story three months down the line because the editor believes that it works better for that season.
Do not take it personally. Rejection as you may have come to learn is a daily resultant of working in PR. Simply move on to your next project and repeat the process, and watch yourself become a pro at pitching. The more you pitch, the more you practice and the better your failure tolerance grows. Before you know it, you’ll have your media contacts getting in touch with you asking you for any new developments from your side, personally I think that’s when you’ll know that you’re officially a pro.