Anyone who has been pitching the media knows that the silence from a lack of response from a producer, editor or reporter can be more deafening than a "no". After days and perhaps weeks pass with no reaction to the pitch your probably spent hours on, you may be tempted to give up. Don't! All is not lost! Before throwing in the towel and bidding farewell to your chance at being featured in the outlet you've been emailing, be sure you run through this list first. The truth is, a lack of media response shouldn't always be construed as a "no" or "pass", and carrying out these straightforward actions can get you closer to a yes and a biz changing press hit!
Connect and Interact with Your Target on Social Media:
Before I go on, let me confirm that this doesn't mean head to the Twitter stream and start tweeting "did you get my pitch yet?" I actually cover Twitter-ettiqutte and the media in this podcast you can download here. What it does mean is that you can replace your email efforts with some strategic interaction on Twitter and even Instagram. If they haven't heard of you yet (it's very possible they missed or forgot about your emails), you'll begin a relationship there more quickly. If they have seen your emails, it will be a way to jog their memory or "show them who you are and what you're all about" in an open, conversational platform.
Review Your Pitch, Do You Need to Rephrase or Change Images?
I was just at a luncheon last weekend with a few women from NBC news - I'm talking reporters and producers - and we were talking about a few segments we were working on finalizing. During our conversation about what works and what doesn't one of them women reminded me of something even I forget sometimes: getting a "yes" or a response from the press is often dependent more on the actual pitch than it is on the content of the pitch. This isn't to say that you can share a mediocre pitch or content they won't care about, but it does remind us of the power that the construction of your pitch holds. Want to see what I'm talking about? I have an entire podcast outlining a great pitch, and it comes with a sample template you can follow.
If it's too long, too confusing, hasn't got a strong "hook" or perhaps you chose images that aren't resonating with them, they may just mentally pass over it without fully digesting your content and story idea. So don't assume that your chances are lost go get a specific story on the air, in print or online. Perhaps it's just the way you're presenting it.
Bonus Tip: How can you get some really good input on whether or not your pitch is magnetic and "hook-y"? Ask a friend or family member to read it. Does it excite them? Does it make sense to them? Do they know what your point is? The answers to this should be a big YES if your pitch is on the right track!
Go Back & Review Previous Stories, Learn Their "Language"
Often I see small biz owners start with a great idea, angle or story for a particular media outlet. But then they pitch the story based on what they would like to say and see, as opposed to pitching it in the format, language and style that the media outlet uses regularly. This is always a bummer because it's so easy to "get" an outlet's style. All you have to do is check out past stories they've worked on. How they frame them, phrase them and deliver them. But too often biz owners are more concerned with getting the pitch out there and don't want to "waste time" reviewing the way past stories were delivered.
Sometimes they miss suggesting that their tips/product/story be shared during a particular segment or column. Sometimes they pitch a concept in a format that the show or magazine would never use. Sometimes it's all down to language: every media outlet has its own style, language and method and if you take the time to learn it and speak their language, you're much more likely to get a pitch returned.
So what if you already sent the pitch and no one is answering, and if you were honest you could admit that the pitch isn't their style? Create a follow up email, and create it in their style. Add some suggestions that work with their format, speak their language...if you do, they may speak a response right back to you!
Finally: Just Follow Up!
Nearly every week I get emails from small biz owners who are pining for a response from a member of the press that they have pitched. Some have been waiting for weeks to hear back. When I ask them, "when did you follow up?" their answer is "I haven't yet." Well there you have it folks! These days a pitch is only part one of your outreach, the follow up is always a necessary component as well! Before giving up, try sending a follow up email and giving them another chance to respond to you. These days we're overwhelmed with emails, social media and other interactions and members of the media are no different. They're getting bombarded with emails and yours can easily get lost in the shuffle. For that reason, a simple and strategic email follow up could be all that's standing between you and your next press opportunity!