This is (one of many examples of) a typical day for me.
I monitor the news for specific topics. I find the article I need. I email the reporter with a concise, tailored and hopefully compelling pitch and cross my fingers. At this point, one of three things happen.
- I nail it. The reporter emails me back with some variation of, “Thanks Lauren — I’d like to speak with ‘so and so’ about ‘so and so.’” Seriously. It’s usually that short and sweet. But it’s enough to make me do a little happy dance at my desk EVERY TIME. Sometimes it takes following up with a call before I can get the reporter’s initial attention, but hey — I’ll take it!
- Nothing. Nada. Zilch. There’s a specific reason why I wrote this pitch for that reporter, so I don’t give up. I follow-up with a phone call. Still nothing. I resist the temptation to continue calling, insisting that they need my news. For whatever reason, they’re just not interested. I take note of the result and move on. At least for now.
- I get the It’s not you — it’s me response. Ok, no reporter has actually said this to me word for word. But in my opinion, I’d love to write about that but we just don’t have the space right now or Great pitch but I’ve got too many assignments and not enough manpower is pretty close!!
The third scenario is frustrating. Let’s face it — most clients don’t care if the reporter really really likes the story; and not now maybe later isn’t all that comforting either. News is only news for so long.
Get the full 411. Before throwing in the towel, I like to get some additional feedback from the reporter. If he/she takes the time to respond once, I can usually get a follow-up question answered as well. I’ll ask what would need to change for the pitch to become a top priority. Maybe there is a missing element that I can work on filling.
Do the work for them. Did they express interest in an event you’re hosting but miss it because of another commitment? Send them pictures/video footage/quotes ASAP and offer phone interviews with key sources at their earliest convenience. Sometimes if you do the leg work, they can apply the finishing touches and make the story happen.
Move on to other fish in the sea. There are plenty of reporters. Plenty of media outlets. If the first didn’t work out, try someone new. But don’t be random about your selection. Choose wisely.
Make your own news. Sometimes we just have to tell our own stories. So conduct the interviews; write the content; and integrate some pictures and/or video — yourself! Then spread it across all your social media.
Develop a relationship for next time. Don’t burn a bridge just because the reporter can’t work with you this time around. Always thank reporters for taking the time to give you feedback and let them know you’re available to provide insight on areas X, Y and Z if they’re in the market for that later. Remember what they cover and shoot them periodic emails with tips and tidbits that are right up their alley.
What do YOU do to make a story happen when these speed bumps arise?
Big thanks to @Journchat for sharing my question during last week’s discussion — and thanks also to the participants who provided insight and helped shape this post!