What Do You Do When a Media Opportunity Falls Through?

Feb 22, 2021

As a PR pro, you know that nothing is ever guaranteed until it’s actually published. It’s never fun… but unfortunately, sometimes a media opportunity falls apart at the last minute.

Knowing how to communicate with your clients after a media opportunity falls through is a challenge. But when you have a strategy for tackling this type of situation, you’ll know exactly what to do and how to move forward! 

In today’s blog post, we’ll go over some of the ways to alleviate the strain of a media opportunity falling apart. Plus, you’ll learn how to proceed with your client after something like this happens. Let’s get started! 

How to Prepare Your Clients for the Possibility Of a Media Opportunity Falling Through

When you’re providing PR services to your clients, it’s crucial to have your results align with the client’s expectations. 

Something that we talk about a lot in The Agency Accelerator program is setting and managing these expectations with your clients. If you and your client aren’t on the same page, it could cause major issues! 

First, Remind Clients That Nothing Is Guaranteed

One of the first things you should do with your clients is establish that nothing is guaranteed. As PR professionals, we know that nothing is guaranteed until you’re holding it in your hand or staring at it on your computer. Seriously—nothing is guaranteed. 

Even in my own agency, we’ve had MAJOR features fall through. Serious opportunities that felt like they were already completely secured fell apart at the very last minute. 

While it’s an awful feeling, it’s something you need to work to prep your clients (and yourself) for in advance. 

Explain to your clients that sometimes features get pushed because news cycles change so quickly. Things are often adjusted last minute in a way that’s out of our hands. Make sure to prepare your clients for this, especially when a big feature is in the works. 

Clearly Communicate Expectations In Advance

Part of our job is to communicate with our clients what they can reasonably expect. To prevent heartache, you have to guide their expectations. 

Explain what media opportunity you’re working on and that it would be incredible. You can even share the expected likelihood of it working out. Just remember to remind them that until it’s in hand or runs, that media opportunity isn’t a guarantee! 

Your client’s expectations must be reasonable and realistic. But most importantly, are they aligned with your possible or expected results?

The number one source of client dissatisfaction is when results are not aligned with client expectations. 

Be really clear about expected media opportunity results, even if it's not exactly what they're looking for. You want to make sure that your clients don't have impossible expectations.

When you land a client, they become your partner, not your adversary. That’s why you need to communicate clearly and establish expectations as an expert! 

What Should You Do If a Media Opportunity Falls Apart? 

If one of your media opportunities does fall through, the best policy is to be honest with your client. Don’t take it personally if a media opportunity doesn’t work out. 

Instead, focus on what you can do for your client moving forward. 

Be honest with your clients about what happened. But then, shift the focus to what your strategy is moving forward from this. 

Here are some specific pitching tips for moving forward after a media opportunity doesn’t pan out! 

Adjust Your Pitch and Try Again

Sometimes, a rejection isn’t really a no, but instead is a ‘not right now.’ There’s a possibility that if you follow up, your story could get rescheduled or postponed. 

What if the original angle that you pitched wouldn’t be timely or relevant if the feature was postponed? Go back to that contact with an adapted angle.

You already know that the journalist is somewhat interested in your client or interested in their products. All you need to do from there is adjust your pitch to make sure it’s still timely and relevant! 

Related: How to Improve Your Media Pitches to Get More PR Features

Use What You’ve Created To Pitch Other Outlets

When you create a solid pitch that almost works out, it’s not a good feeling. But you’ve already put in the work to get all of the content in place! You’ve created a solid, compelling story angle. 

Now, you can take that story and use it as a winning pitch for other outlets. You can even mention that one journalist was interested, and for whatever reason, their availability shifted. 

Use a media opportunity that doesn’t work out as a solid pitch for other relevant outlets! If it's an interview and the content is already created, create different story angles around it and pitch it to other outlets. Just make sure to keep things targeted, strategic, and relevant for the best results. 

When a media opportunity doesn’t work out as planned, it’s never a good feeling. But as PR professionals, this is just part of the job! 

Focus on communicating expectations and helping your clients understand the process. You’ll help them avoid being heartbroken when a media opportunity falls apart! These tips will smooth out the process and make it easier to move forward.

Have you ever had a media opportunity fall through the cracks? Join The Profitable PR Pros Facebook group and tell us your story!