What to Do When The Media is Just Not that Into You

    August 17, 2010

    It's inevitable. You send a pitch to the media and then....nothing. Now you start to worry. Will they respond to my email? Will they call? Days or weeks go by and you follow up again. Nothing. Your brain overloads with thoughts:

    • Maybe it went in their junk mail?
    • Maybe they never got my message?
    • Maybe they are too busy and will get back to me another day?
    • Maybe they hated it.
    • Maybe they hate me.
    • I suck.
    • PR sucks.
    • I give up.

    Does this situation sound familiar?

    I remember when I was a needy, angst-y youth - I would wait by the phone for the boy I liked to call. Then I would ponder every possible excuse why he didn't (maybe he lost his beeper, or got stuck at football practice, or fell in a ditch?) Reality was...he just wasn't in to me. All those hopeless days and sleepless nights waiting by the phone when the answer was right in front of me. When the book, and following movie, appropriately titled "He's Just Not That Into You" came out, I was well past my years of dating and already happily married. But I started to think that these pearls of wisdom can also be applied to other areas of life.

    When you're pitching the media, following up, and trying your hardest to get a placement - sometimes the answer is The Media is Just Not that Into You.

    Let me explain.

    If the media thinks your product is a great fit for what they are working on at that time, they will let you know right away. If they think you are a great source for a story, they usually contact you almost immediately to schedule an interview.

    If you hear nothing, the reality is that it's just not a fit for them at this time.

    It doesn't mean that they won't archive your pitch for future use (I've had editors contact me a year after I sent a pitch). It could also mean that your pitch won't be a right fit for plenty of other reasons that are not in your control. I've seen products turned down because they weren't the right color, they were too small, too large, geared toward too old or too young of an age group, because it didn't fit the editor's taste, it was too cheap, too expensive, etc. 

    More than 90% of pitches sent to the media are turned down. Don't take it personal.

    However, understanding why the media doesn't want to cover your business makes it much easier to stay encouraged with your campaign. The keys to a great publicity campaign are patience, persistence and setting appropriate expectations. If you're dating, you're likely practicing these three things as well - patience to find the right match, persistence in not giving up when you find a lot of bad matches, and making sure you're not expecting Prince Charming to sweep through the door. In fact, expectations can also contribute to a failed marriage (trust me - I was dangerously close to one).

    Taking some themes from "He's Just Not that Into You" (the book and movie) - here are some ideas for aligning the proper expectations in your publicity campaign!

    "The Exception, Not the Rule"

    "Your neighbor's best friend's mom met a man in a bar and he gave up his macho-ways to marry her in 3 months."

    As the movie quotes - "This is the exception, not the rule." Whether this is true (or likely here-say) this is a chance encounter, not something that normally happens.

    From a publicity perspective, have you ever heard the following: "So and so contacted Oprah Magazine and heard right back from them and a month later they had a 4-page feature in their issue." Or, "Molly media-pants told me that she got picked up in every major magazine without even pitching. They just found her randomly!"

    Not to say that these situations never happen, but don't bank on them. Publicity is a lot of work. There is no secret sauce or quick tip to getting publicity for your business. It takes ongoing time and effort to really achieve the results you desire.

    Go into your publicity campaign understanding that you will get out what you put in. No whining, no excuses. No listening to crazy, hyped up stories from Publicity Romantics. Put in the effort required, and you will get results.

    "If a guy doesn't call you, he doesn't want to call you."

    It took me a long time to accept this in my personal life. Good thing my now-husband wanted to call me, and also marry me :)

    With the media, if they want to feature your product, your business, or use you as a source - they will call you (or use some other form of communication to get in touch). If you're trying to connect with someone and they are not returning your calls and emails - move on.

    Fortunately in publicity, moving on doesn't necessarily mean never re-connecting with that person again. It just means you need a new approach, a new product, a new way of presenting that might pique their interest, or just better timing. The more you practice pitching, study the media you're trying to connect with, and think about how to make your business more "media-worthy" the more interest you will gain.

    Think of it as a "business media-makeover!"

    "Cut your losses and don't waste your time"

    Rejection kind of sucks.

    I moonlight as an actress, TV Host and spokesperson, and I have to tell you that I get rejected A LOT. I'm pinned up against thousands of other people that are prettier, smarter, have more training, have better connections, etc. When I leave an audition, I take three deep breaths and just let it go. I can't change anything I did in that room.

    If you get an absolute "no" from a media outlet (and it will happen), don't feel discouraged. Cut your losses on that pitch, and move on.

    Some "no's" I've heard for clients are:

    • It doesn't fit the demographic of the magazine (too old, too young)
    • It's not a new launch (and by new launch, that means out the same month as the coverage - remember magazines work 4-6 months ahead so your new launches need to be planned far in advance)
    • It's not widely available (sold in a big box retailer)
    • It's too expensive, or too cheap
    • It's not something they think their readers would actually use
    • The packaging or the product itself does not photograph well
    • You don't have the credentials they need for an expert
    • Your interview did not result in anything they were interested in printing

    Some of the above items can be fixed - either by launching a new product, changing your packaging, or perfecting your interview skills. However, I don't recommend an overhaul of your business just to try and fit the needs of one outlet. I do recommend being more aware of the reasons it won't fit, and how that works in the bigger picture of your business.

    Remember, there are plenty of other fish in the sea. Don't let a "no" from a big magazine crush your dreams. We all get rejected....it's how you deal with the rejection that ultimately matters.

    ---

    Melissa Cassera is a Publicity Specialist, TV Spokesperson and Aspiring QVC Host. Check her out at http://www.casseracommunications.com 

    Read Melissa's other blog entries >

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