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How To Deal With PR Rejection and Come Out Alive

Author: Rick Frishman   |   June 7th, 2011

A few years ago, coauthor, Jill Lublin pitched an idea to a producer for a nationally syndicated cooking show, but the producer didn’t buy Jill’s idea.

After the rejection, Jill continued to call the producer every month, even though she didn’t have anything to pitch…

She simply called to say hello and find out what the producer was working on. Most of the time, Jill got the producer’s voice mail and just said “Hi, this is Jill Lublin of Promising Promotion. I’m just calling to say hello. Hope all is well.”

About a year and a half later, a client hired Jill to promote a video called “Cooking for Busy People.” Jill immediately contacted the producer who loved the idea and booked Jill’s client on the spot. After Jill’s client appeared on the show, the orders for her video poured in.

Sales went through the roof and her single appearance launched a thriving business . . . all because of Jill’s persistence and repeated calls to develop an invaluable media contact.

The Rules

You can’t win the small business public relations game if you don’t know the rules. Yet that’s precisely what you’re doing when you don’t know the rules that govern relationships with the media. Since the media holds all the cards, they make the rules. If you want to play at their table, you have to adhere to their rules. Ironically, there are only three rules and they’re alarmingly simple:

1. You are a resource for the media.

2. It’s never personal. It’s always about the story and its impact.

3. The media can always change its mind, but you can’t. At any time, it can revise, cut, postpone or even kill a story it agreed to run.

The best way to generate buzz—to get more articles and blog entries written about you or to be invited on more programs and podcasts—is to help your targets reach their goals. If a journalist or a producer is working on a story about nursing homes, give him or her the name of the last nursing home director you met at a seminar and offer to set up an interview.

Be a resource by asking contacts for a list of the projects on their editorial calendars for the next 30, 60, or 90 days. Inquire into and be sure you understand exactly what they need to complete their story. Then try to get it for them. Become their researcher, investigator, contact person, and colleague.

Stay on Their Radar

With the media, the saying “out of sight is out of mind” is a truism. So remain in their minds. Besides helping them with other projects, make sure you remain a constant presence in your media contacts’ professional lives.

Few things are appreciated more than small considerate gestures that aren’t required or even expected. These can be as basic as a thank-you or congratulatory telephone call, e-mail, note, post card, or even a small gift. Before you give gifts, check with the organization to see if they have rules that prohibit or limit gifts. Remember, it actually is the thought that counts . . . so keep it simple.

After making a new contact, send a handwritten “nice-to-meet you” note – something small and memorable. Don’t go overboard. Small efforts usually pay big dividends by:

Keeping you and your product or service in your contact’s mind

Portraying you as pleasant, considerate, and smart

Producing more referrals

Tightening your relationship

Remaining in contact with your various associates in the media industry will help you in the long run. By doing just a few of these simple things, your chances for publicity for your small business will grow.

Handle Rejection Properly

Even if you’ve helped your media contact, rejections are inevitable. You may be trying to sell flounder to a chef who needs turnips. So, make the most of them. Rejections can be opportunities. They can form the basis for future successes and can be building blocks for long-term relationships; use them to make a favorable impression. If you do, those who turned you down may remember your name, your courtesy, and professionalism. They may even remember where to turn if they need flounder.

Remember – Although media relationships should be mutually beneficial, they aren’t equal: the media holds the upper hand. Even if you have been rejected, stay in touch with that contact and remain on his or her radar.

Try to turn even your rejections into solid, long-term relationships and make your small business public relations efforts work for you.

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