Ten Ways to Get out of a Pitching Rut

Mar 28, 2014 Elizabeth Yekhtikian

It’s happened to all of us… You have a fantastic and unique story idea, and you are working like mad to get a reporter interested. Not just any  reporter-no smiling and dialing here…You already have done your homework and have a select few in mind who write about the very topic you are pitching and they are not biting. We know you haven’t committed any of these pitching sins that former reporter Lisa van der Pool warned us about in a previous InkHouse post.

So what to do when you have done your media relations 101 due diligence and there is no action-like not even a little. I have an expression for this: NR which means No Reaction. So how do you turn NR to AR: Appropriate Reaction?

Before you end up doubting yourself, feeling downright rejected and singing the pitching blues , and letting your client down, what are some ways to get out of such a rut?

  1. Take a hard and close look: Can you shorten it, make it more appealing by taking out text and adding a visual asset if available? Can you lead with a trend instead of the product news? Is there a higher level message that seems to come in at the third sentence instead of the first?
  2. Turn to a friend: Have someone you trust take a look at it after you change it: Talking to a colleague (whether a present or former colleague) when we are in the deepest of pitching ruts helps immensely. Fresh eyes can help detect any red flags, or even  help us by suggesting minor tweaks.
  3. Talk to the client: Often we are too proud or worried to admit we are not getting somewhere with a pitch. But sometimes coming clean to the client and suggesting some ideas that you can collaborate on to improve it can work magic. Make sure you have some ideas to improve the approach before talking to the client.
  4. Pick up the phone: Before emailing your pitch, can you call a reporter up? Before you think” oh Liz  that is so 2003,”think again.  It seems we are so used to emailing first, and then calling to follow up. What if you picked up the phone first and had an actual conversation with a reporter without sending it first. They wouldn’t feel annoyed because you aren’t calling to follow up. Of course, it has to be someone who is applicable and not a random reporter but actually calling someone BEFORE emailing can work wonders. And give you great feedback as to why the pitch may not be resonating.
  5. Don’t fear the media: If we believe strongly in our story idea, we should be confident enough to have a call with the reporter.
  6. Don’t be a stalker: If you have called and they aren’t interested move on.
  7. Take a walk: A quick change of atmosphere can refresh your thinking. What is the definition of insanity: repeating the same thing over and over again right? So don’t do this! Get moving and see if this inspires any new thinking.
  8. Find a new friend: There are always fresh targets (as long as they are relevant) to find and there is always  someone who seems to be perfect for your story idea so don’t give up.
  9. Ask them out: If you have a good relationship with a reporter and they have turned this particular story down, maybe you could ask them to meet in person and talk about what things are interesting them of late.
  10. Don’t beat yourself up: At the end of the day, it is important to have perspective and maintain your self esteem. Sometimes the best pitching outcomes come out of the times when we feel the most tested.

So before you feel like Willy Loman from Death of a Salesman, buck up! You can turn this around…And you will.

Topics: Media Relations, Public Relations
Elizabeth Yekhtikian

Elizabeth’s singular focus at InkHouse is strategic media relations. A former television reporter who covered local news, Elizabeth is also our resident media trainer.Creating and cultivating relationships with top-tier business, consumer and broadcast press is where she excels as well as helping a wide range of clients in the tech, consumer and VC space prepare for these high stakes interviews. Before joining InkHouse in 2011, Elizabeth worked for Blanc & Otus PR, serving for 11 years, where she managed both client and internal teams. She helped large enterprise technology companies such as CA Technologies with thought leadership campaigns and product launches, as well as smaller consumer tech companies such as Ziggs and Digitalsmiths find their voice in crowded markets. She holds a master’s degree in broadcast journalism from Emerson College and a bachelor’s degree in mass communications from Boston University.

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