Media Relations: Four Steps to Turn a Reporter’s ‘No’ into a ‘Yes’
By Affect Team | On July 3, 2014
Rejection is par for the course in public relations, especially if media relations is one of your duties. Editors, reporters, producers: there will be a time when you hear a “no” from each one of them (That is, if you hear back at all—but that’s another post) during some time in your career. Don’t take it personally; media outlets receive hundreds, if not thousands of emails and phone calls during a regular business day and they cannot answer, or say yes, to everybody.
However, when you do receive some initial interest that ultimately turns into a “no,” there are a few steps you can take to keep the conversation going, start building a relationship and even find a way to turn that ‘no’ into future coverage.
Four steps you can take to turn a ‘No’ into a ‘Yes’:
- Don’t let that “no” hang there. Always follow up with the reporter even it is just to say “thank you” or inquire further. Following up serves a few purposes. First, it can help create a rapport with the journalist. The next time you pitch him or her, they may recognize your name and be more likely to open your email. Second, following up also provides an opportunity to initiate a dialogue and ask additional questions, which leads right in to my next tip.
- Always ask, “Can you tell me what you are working on now?” Sometimes you hear a no simply because the contact doesn’t have the time take on another story. See what else they are working on and if your client is a possible fit. There may be a chance that there is a story they are having trouble finding sources for and it might be in your client’s area of expertise. If you’re comfortable, you might want to do this by phone. Picking up the phone, while a bit daunting, can help build a relationship much quicker than just emails.
- Finally, offer yourself as a resource. If you have followed up, asked about other stories and still hear a no, always finish the conversation off with an offer to be a ready and available source. Journalists often lament that PR people can have a very “me-first” attitude, so you are already one step ahead of the game by offering yourself and your client as a resource.
- Do you work on multiple accounts? If you have more than one client in the same industry or area of expertise mention that you also work with X, Y and Z and they can be resources as well. Be sure to regularly check in as you are building these relationships, you never know when a journalist will need a quick source or a quote for a story they are working on.
The bottom line is, media relations is not for the faint of heart. You may hear a lot of “no thank you’s” or “maybe next time’s” until you finally land a solid piece of coverage. However, the tips above will help put you in a better position to get a conversation started and turn that “no” into a “yes.”