Yikes, You Got Ghosted! How to Deal When Media Contacts Go Quiet

Nov 06, 2023

We all know the feeling: you and a media contact have gotten into a good groove regarding your latest pitch. You’re emailing every day or two, and then…silence. A few days go by with no new emails. You should’ve heard from them by now, right?

Don’t panic!

Getting ghosted by a media contact is scary, but it’s a situation every PR pro has to navigate. With patience, strategy, and flexibility, you can handle silent media contacts and even bring the ghosts back to life!

What to Do If the Media Ghosts You

Every PR pro gets ghosted from time to time. Even if a journalist goes silent, it doesn’t mean your pitch is dead! Here are four of my BEST tips for dealing when a media contact goes MIA, no matter where you are in the pitching process.

#1: Don’t Take the Ghosting Personally

Getting ghosted in PR is a lot like getting ghosted in dating — it might be your contact’s way of saying: “It’s not you. It’s me”.

Journalists have a lot on their plates! And your pitch might not be top-of-mind for them. Don’t take this as a personal rejection; allow your contact the time and space they need. There’s a good chance they’ll be back for you eventually! 

Journalism is extremely hectic these days, and deadlines change all the time. Priorities may have shifted since the last time they reached out about your pitch! They might have to set your story on the back burner for a while as they take care of breaking news or more pressing stories.

Also, keep in mind your media contacts have personal lives, too. You never know whether something outside the office could prevent them from checking their emails for a few days. Give your media contact time to respond on their own terms.

When in doubt, check their social media pages for updates. They could have let their followers know they were taking time away from the office. If they have a Substack, make sure you’re subscribed so you see personal updates there, too! 

Related: 6 Ways PR and Media Professionals Can Support Journalists Through Industry Shifts

#2: Space Out Your Follow Up

If your media contact suddenly goes silent in the final stages of the pitching process, don’t hit the panic button. Your instinct may be to reach out ASAP (and keep reaching out), but take a second to breathe.

Give your media contact a few days of silence before you reach out again. You built lead time into your pitching process for a reason!

When you do reach out again, include a personal check-in to make sure they’re doing okay. If there’s a time limit surrounding your pitch (like an upcoming product launch or event), reiterate it in your follow-up.

Then, sit back for a few days before you go through the follow-up process again. Check your deadlines to see how much time you actually have for the follow-up.

If there’s still no response, your media contact hasn’t given any updates on their socials, and you’re getting down to the wire with your pitch, it’s time to move on.

#3: Read Through Your Pitch Again

If you find yourself getting ghosted right at the start of the pitching process, the issue may be your pitches, not your media contact.

Your media contacts want to read relevant, targeted pitches that are truly newsworthy in your niche. You’re not going to get the results you’re hoping for by sending them generic spray-and-pray emails, vague pitches, or basic press releases!

Personalize every pitch you send out for your media contact. This means tailoring your pitch to the journalist and their publication, beat, and audience. You should also make sure your pitch is truly fresh and not something they’ve covered before.

You might also be reaching out to the wrong contacts! The media landscape is constantly shifting, and journalists regularly switch up their roles. Your contact may have moved to a new publication, switched beats, or gone freelance after a round of layoffs.

Double-check your media contact’s socials (especially LinkedIn!) and their publication’s pages to confirm their role. If you find a contact who is better suited to your pitch, reach out to them instead! 

Also, take some time to brush up on your pitching skills. If you’ve got proof that your current strategy isn’t working, switch it up!

For example, make sure you have the basics down — by joining The Pitch Lab!

And if you’re unsure how to switch up your tactics, grab my FREE Media Pitch Template to give yourself a boost. You’ll learn the building blocks for a successful pitch and get my proven template for writing and sending winning pitches to your contacts.

Related: What is the Best Way to Use a PR Pitch Email Template?

#4: Refine Your Pitch Angle

You might be sending out a perfectly formatted pitch with all the personal details your contact could want, but if it’s just not newsworthy enough, your contact won’t write about it.

If you can, grab your team for a brainstorming session! Work with your team to answer these questions:

  • What’s newsworthy about this product/event/etc? 
  • What makes it unique or innovative? 
  • Does my current pitch truly communicate how important this product/event/etc is? 
  • Has the media covered this angle already for similar products?
  • How can I make my client stand out from the crowd?

Make sure you’re communicating exactly what you need to get your media contacts on board. Don’t be afraid to tweak your existing pitch to make it more engaging and newsworthy.

For example, consider adding a new element to your pitch to get it on your media contact’s radar. Does your client have an in-house expert you can call on for the story? Turn it into an interview! You could zoom into how your client’s product solves one specific issue for their customers, or zoom out to highlight their big-picture impact on their niche.

Your media contacts want to provide their readers with valuable stories — and you need to provide the foundation. Just make sure your edited pitch is still communicating your client’s message and that you can prove all claims. Don’t exaggerate for the sake of landing a story.

Getting ghosted by a contact is never a great feeling, but don't take it personally! It happens to all of us. Be patient with your contacts, but flexible enough to move on when you need to. Remember to put your strategy first and you’ll be busting ghosts in no time!