What Should You Do After a PR Rejection?

Feb 01, 2021

No matter where you are at in your PR career, rejection is something you have faced (or will face). Unfortunately, dealing with a PR rejection feels overwhelming. But there’s a lot that goes into a rejection—no two rejections are the same. 

After a PR rejection, you need to know how to move on and improve for next time. You might be skeptical, but trust me: there are some super valuable lessons to learn from rejections! 

There’s more to rejection than a flat-out no. A PR rejection can sometimes be the beginning of a productive and beneficial relationship with writers or even certain publications. 

In this blog post, I’m going to cover the 3 types of rejections, plus all the things you should do after a PR rejection to change the game moving forward.

Let’s get started! 

3 Types of PR Rejections (& What They Mean)

There are actually a few different types of rejections you might receive. Knowing the difference helps you interpret a PR rejection in the right way—you’ll know what to do moving forward. 

Here are the three types of rejections you’ll likely see in your public relations career, and what each one means. 

Timing Rejection: “Not Now”

With this type of rejection, timing is the issue. Your piece won’t fit within that publication’s editorial calendar right now. 

From a “not now” rejection, what should you do? Consider positioning your pitch to fit in better at another time, or follow up about it later on. You also could reach out to a different editor if you feel that your pitch is timely and relevant for right now!

With a “not now” rejection, you have a responsive journalist and the only issue is timing. This is one type of PR rejection you shouldn’t take personally, because it’s really out of your control. 

A Simple “No”

Next up, for rejection, you might just get a flat-out no—and that’s okay! 

For this type of rejection, you can send a “thank you for your consideration” message, just to create a positive connection with that journalist. 

But you can also put that outlet or media contact on a list to reach back out to in the future. If you do reach back out after a no, you’ll need to make some tweaks. Be even more targeted, timely, relevant, strategic, and specific with your pitch. 

When you receive a no for a pitch, don’t be upset. Instead, know that the writer or editor took the time to respond to you. Go back to the drawing board and come up with something more strategic and try to give them a unique angle. Do the work for them and let them know what you think is a better angle for them. 

Another option is to edit your original pitch or add to it. An editor might make it clear that they're not interested because you need to have something more or something different.

Related: Why You Should Say No More Often

No Response At All

The third type of PR rejection is no response at all. At this point, go through the pitches that didn't get a response and strategize ways to improve them. 

Did you aim to create a relationship with the writer from the opening of your pitch? Be specific in starting to create a personal relationship between you and that writer or editor. 

One of the biggest causes of a ‘no response’ rejection is a spray-and-pray approach. Don’t send out generalized pitches with no regard for that publication or writer. You need to be specific with who you contact and what you can address for them!

What Should You Do After a PR Rejection? 

Now that you can identify what type of rejection you’re dealing with, what should you do to move on? These strategies will help you adapt and grow through dealing with a PR rejection. 

Change Your Mindset

A lot of what we do as PR professionals have to do with mindset. You have to change your mindset. We put so much pressure on ourselves to aim for conversions and avoid rejections. 

Instead, you should aim for rejections. Hear me out: you have to let go of the pressure and embrace rejection as part of our process. 

One of the keys to success is not fearing rejection. If you don't let the fear of rejection stop you from trying, then you'll write more. You get valuable practice when you stop worrying about rejections. 

On that note, don’t take a PR rejection personally. There are so many reasons that pitches get rejected. Instead of taking it personally, look at it as an opportunity for growth! 

Track Your Progress

Make sure that you have a spreadsheet to track your pitches and progress. Regularly track who you're pitching and how those pitches are handled. When you track everything, you can adjust and improve. 

You’ll also understand how you're doing with pitches in a more objective way. Look for patterns in responses versus rejections, and what made a difference.

Do Some Self-Reflection

If you take a step back, you can probably already identify why your pitch wasn't a good match for a specific publication or contact. Try to really hone in on why that pitch wasn't a match for the writer, editor, or publication. 

From there, you should also evaluate the client relationship. If you are not excited about what you're pitching, it’s clear to everyone. You need to feel confident that there's something interesting and exciting about your client, their services, or their products. 

That excitement (or lack of excitement) comes through in your pitch 100%. Editors, writers, and journalists can tell when you're actually invested. They only want to take stories that feel meaningful, so if you aren't feeling it, they won't be either. 

Try to Get Feedback

You can ask for feedback directly from editors. Say something very simple and try to build a connection. 

Here’s an example: 

“I really appreciate your consideration of the story idea and that you took the time to write back to me. I'd love to know how this pitch, idea, or brand wasn't a fit for you so that I can bring you better opportunities in the future. I don't want to waste your time. Any feedback you have will be invaluable to my client as we move forward together.” 

This might feel uncomfortable, but it’s super valuable. When you ask for feedback, you show that person that you’re interested in a dynamic relationship. 

You could also get feedback from our community of PR pros! Otherwise, try just having a second pair of eyes (even outside the PR world) check things over. Sometimes, they’ll catch something important that you missed. 

Facing a PR rejection is never fun, but there’s actually a huge opportunity for you to grow and learn from it. 

Now that you understand the types of rejections, it’s easy to know exactly what follow-up steps to take! When you take these key steps after a PR rejection, you set yourself up for success long-term.