Some mood music for this post:

We’ve all been there. We’ve all had the insecure, defeated feeling that accompanies days or weeks waiting for a call back, an e-mail reply or even a simple text. The sleepless nights, days filled with maddening anticipation and bottomless tubs of Ben & Jerry’s are all too familiar. I’m talking about media relations, of course.

Your client just won a prestigious award or launched a product that’s going to revolutionize the entire industry. There’s no way on earth any journalist would pass on this scoop. The pitch and release are on point. You’ve taken the time to do the necessary legwork and chosen your targets wisely. All systems are go.

You haven’t heard anything back. It’s only been a few hours, they’re probably just buried today. Okay, it’s been two days now. Why aren’t they responding? It’s probably time for a follow-up. Too soon? Call or e-mail? Radio silence even after the follow-up? Now you’re starting to get worried; you’re genuinely concerned for their well-being. What if something terrible happened to them? That can’t be; they just posted a new article this morning and tweeted an adorable picture of their dog wearing sunglasses no less than an hour ago. What if they’ve decided they’d rather not work with you ever again? Another follow-up? Will that just come off as pushy or needy? Wait a second, how can they have time to post endearing photos of Rufus, but not a spare moment to get back to you?

And so on.

This sort of thing happens in our industry. There can be a million causes for lack of response from journalists. Every now and then, story pitches get lost or just plain don’t resonate with reporters for one reason or another. And we often spend way too much time getting worked up, wondering why we’re hearing crickets. We find ourselves impatiently waiting and clinging to hope that after just one more follow-up, the journalist will say something, instead of fixing the problem.

There are two important things to remind yourself after you’ve reached out several times to no effect:

  1. What you have been doing isn’t working.
  2. You don’t have to keep doing it.

Change up your pitch. Change up your targets. Adjust your approach. Tweak your angle. Offer an exclusive. Offer additional supporting materials. The point is, you need to course-correct. You need to do something, or they’ll continue not saying anything.