No Is the Only Word That Means No

So many of my clients find the story- pitching process mysterious. Let me tell you, pitching is not anyone’s favorite task. The whole process can be uncomfortable, from sending out blind emails to waiting uncertainly for a reply, and it’s easy to get discouraged. But I always try to remind myself of one truth: no is the only word that means no.

Put yourself in the shoes of a media professional: they are working on deadlines, getting hundreds of pitches a day, basically living in a state of triage. Your email could easily be missed, or forgotten, or even mistakenly dropped into junk mail. If you haven’t heard back after a few days, it’s safe to assume one of these variables is the reason. Until someone actually says they are not interested, we just don’t know. For this reason, you do have to follow up. A very simple, short and sweet, two sentence query is best. If you don’t hear back after a couple of days, you might have to pick up the phone. Now it’s true, people do not like being called but sometimes it’s necessary. Keep your audience in mind: if you’re pitching a morning show, for example, don’t call them first thing in the morning.

Once I do get a producer or editor on the phone, nine times out of ten they say they never saw their email or fax. In my experience, once we start talking, half the time they are interested, half the time they are not. If they tell me they are not interested, I politely ask if there’s someone in the organization who might be interested. Or, depending on how the call is going, I ask for a little feedback in terms of what might interest them in the future. All media professionals can sense a pushy person who is full of hot air. It’s never about pushing an agenda, it’s about having a conversation and building relationships.

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