There’s an old saying in PR circles that you’re only as good as your last big story.

The media works in funny ways. Sometimes, you can send out what you think is a non-story and it will get covered far and wide.

At other times, you may have crafted what you think it the perfect press release – relevant, newsworthy, interesting – and it gets spiked, and you end up having to explain to your boss or client why it hasn’t been covered.

There are three things to remember here.

  • The first is that content is king. If you send a story to the media, it needs to be newsworthy to stand any chance of getting covered.
  • The second is that PR is a long game. It can be really annoying to send out a news release which you think is a good story and it fails to attract the kind of coverage you were expecting. But, if you regularly push out decent news stories, chances are, over the long-term, you’ll gain an awful lot of exposure. So, focus on the process, rather than the results.
  • The third, and perhaps the most important, is to not take the rejection too personally.

Everyone in PR, no matter how long they’ve been doing it, will face their fair share of rejection during their career. The trick is to work out how best to respond to it, so you don’t do any damage to your business’ relationship with the media.

To seasoned PR professionals, relationships are everything and they will know how to handle the various types of rejection to ensure no damage is done and secure the best outcome for your business.

If don’t have any in-house PR expertise, however, then here are our top tips for dealing with the dreaded ‘no’.

Paying for content

A growing number of outlets, particularly in the trade and niche media, have cottoned on to the idea that PR content could be a potential revenue stream, and have started charging to carry stories in their magazines and online.

While this can have some benefits, such as gaining quality backlinks to improve your own SEO, sometimes it just isn’t worth the investment.

It all comes from how newsworthy your content is, so ask yourself – are you providing valuable content that informs and answers readers’ questions? If you are, chances are it will get coverage without having to pay.

However, if you’re promoting a product or service solely for the sake of getting sales, you’re veering into advertising territory instead of PR and you’ll have to decide if it’s worth stumping up for.


Even the best, most newsworthy content you produce might not work for some writers at the time that you send it. So, take some time to do your research and find out what your target reporters are writing about, and when they are writing it.

Most magazines put forward features lists on their websites, so use them and plan your PR calendar accordingly.

Also, don’t assume that just because they’ve written about a particular sector or business issue one month, they’ll do so for you the month after, as their focus may have moved on.

Journalists hate the sort of emails that say “I saw the piece you wrote about our competitor yesterday. Can you do the same story, but for us instead, tomorrow?”

A better approach is to give them anew or interesting angle to move the story on a bit, or better still, get in there first.

Add value

In some situations, you can turn a ‘no’ to your advantage.

If the journalist in question has rejected your story, but fed back that it’s not quite right for their readers, start a conversation.

Ask them what they are looking for and then deliver it, if you can.

They may, for example, be looking for a case study, some facts and figures, or an expert comment to make your story complete. So, if you can help find them one, then go for it.

Not only will this get you the coverage you need, but they’ll likely remember that you delivered for them and will keep coming back to you for help with other stories.

Do your homework

Is the writer you’ve just received a ‘no’ from the right person to be targeting your story at? Do they regularly write about your business sector or the issue you’re talking about? Will their readers care about what you’ve got to say?

It’s no good targeting your content at media outlets and writers that don’t write about what you’re sending them, they’ll never use it and you’ll wind up annoying them.

So, do your homework.

Find out which media cover the sorts of stories you send out and target accordingly.

Don’t reply in anger

If your story has been rejected, however harsh you think it may be, just take it on the chin and move on.

You’ll gain nothing from sending an angry email back to the writer who’s said no, explaining why you think they’re wrong and you’re right. They’ll just delete it and block you in the future.

Say thank you

You shouldn’t necessarily do this for every single piece of coverage you get. But it always pays to send a quick note to anyone who has given you good coverage, or allowed you the platform to put your side across if you’re on the wrong end of a negative press story.

It helps keep your relationship with them on track, which should hopefully result in further great coverage in the future.


Good PR is about more than just having great stories to tell. It’s about striking that careful, intricate balance between providing good content, maintaining good relationships with the media and understanding why your stories might not get covered, so you can explain this to your bosses or clients, and refine your strategy for next time.

Purpose Media’s PR and content team has many years’ experience in dealing with the media and securing great press coverage for our clients.

We’ve worked on busy newsdesks, manned press offices and delivered in-house campaigns for agencies. We understand the demands of the media, have built strong relations and know how to ensure your stories get heard.

To find out how we can help your business raise its profile in the media, get in touch today.

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Posted by Katrina Starkie