It’s Not You, It’s The Pitch: How to Make Rejection Work For You.
You’ve spent hours crafting what you think is the perfect pitch, making sure your correspondence with this journalist is on point - perfectly positioned, it’s the perfect length (not so long that they don’t read the whole thing or too short that it doesn’t contain vital information), and it’s well-timed. Like Goldilocks, you’ve put together what you think is “just right” to garner a warm yes from a journalist.
No one could turn this pitch down, you think to yourself after staring at the screen for so long that your eyes start to twitch. You hit send with the satisfaction of a job well done and the expectation that your pitch will be accepted. But then it happens. The journalist says no.
The fact is that working in PR comes with a ton of rejection. It’s expected. While I know everyone strives to be great, even top PR pros are bound to be turned down for one reason or another – wrong time, wrong place, or a wrong angle. But remember that a no may not always be a no. Sometimes it's just 'not now' or 'not good enough.'
Take 'no' as a challenge
Comfort yourself with the knowledge that the best of the best (not just in PR) have all been rejected. But what made them be the best is that they didn’t let that rejection completely stop them. Think about it this way: Failure is the stepping stone to success.
In the wise words of Leo Babauta, “Each failure shows you an obstacle you didn’t anticipate, and you can plan to beat that obstacle next time. Each failure brings you that much closer to winning.”
Use this “no” as just the universe giving you extra time to perfect your pitch, making it more personalized and awesome. There is always plenty of room for you to work on your pitch.
Use the opportunity of a 'no' to build relationships
Ask questions. You’d be surprised how receptive people can be to genuine inquiries, especially if it means they get better pitches. Getting to know them allows you to learn more about what might work for that journalist in the future.
If you live in the same area and are feeling gutsy, maybe even take them out for a coffee or drink. It’s a nice break from virtual correspondence and will give you an opportunity to connect on a more meaningful level.
The point is to take this time to build relationships with them. Journalists are humans, just like me or you. They’re not genies in bottles who, when sent a good email or punchy tweet, will magically give you all the press you desire. Get to know them without expecting anything in return. And if you do take them out for drinks, don’t talk about your company. Just get to know them as human beings. It’ll be greatly appreciated since every CEO within 500 miles seems to wants something from them.
Don’t give up
Don't under any circumstance take the “no” and just scratch that person off your list, never going back to them until you want something from them again. One, breaking ties with a journalist because of a rejection is closing the door on an opportunity for a yes in the future. And, two, that's breaking the golden rule of making friends before you need something.
In the PR business, you’re only as good as the relationships you maintain. Relationships with journalists are a two way street, made of give and take. Start treating them as people who are all for the taking and you’ll be getting a lot more rejections in the future.
You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take (Gretzky). So if every time you’re rejected by a journalist, you never talk to them again, you’re going to missing out on many chances for coverage.
Make the most of it
Never take the rejection personally. A journalist is just doing their job when they reject your pitch. Keeping this in mind prevents you from sending angry emails or giving up completely on a future opportunity.
And remember that luck is what happens when preparation meeting opportunity. So prepare yourself – build relationships with journalists, work on your pitch, etc – until the right opportunity comes your way. It may come sooner than you think. Think of yourself as an athlete, whether it’s the off season or playing time, you’re always ready.