5 Reasons I’ve been Told “No” by the Press
By Nicole Yelland, Director of Marketing & Communications, Livio
If you know one PR person, you likely have a grasp on the rest of the group. We’re excitable, social and love meeting new people. We’re also stress junkies, pushy and have our smartphones glued to our hands at all times. Most of all, we hate being told “no.”
It’s taken me a while to get here, but I’m ready to admit it: sometimes we – or at least I – deserve to be told no.
No is a powerful, often underused word. It stops us from doing something potentially damaging, wasteful or just plain dumb. Enough “no’s” can sometimes give PR people the data they need to show something isn’t working and switch gears. Don’t get me wrong, hearing “no” is a total buzzkill but a smart PR person will know what to do with it, while younger PR pros might hide under their desks and have a good cry.
This post is for those younger pros still learning the game. If I had to guess what’s made my media counterpart’s blood boil over the years, I’d say that these are easily the top five things PR pros do to deserve a no:
1. Spent my emails like monopoly money. In the early days of my PR career it probably would have been beneficial if my pay were docked for every email I sent. If that had been the case, I would have taken more care to research one good contact at each publication instead of spamming the whole department or bothering to pick up the phone more often. I totally deserved a “no” from each of those over-emailed – well, borderline spammed – reporters.
2. It’s not all about me. Instead of appealing to some poor journalist’s need for a compelling story about telecom innovations I focused on my needs. I needed a story written about my client in a newspaper to show that I’ve been working hard enough for a raise. I never even gave some of these journalists an angle to stand on but expected they would conjure a story based on pretty blah facts. I never once stopped to look at my pitch from the journalist’s point of view and ask, “What’s the story?” So lame and such a good reason to tell some babysitter’s club wanna be PR chick to buzz off.
3. Changed pitching to stalking. For every call, I then left a voicemail followed by an email immediately thereafter. Sometimes, I made it my business to call every hour on the hour. Not only did I deserve to be told no, I deserved a restraining order.
4. Forgot what it’s like to be a reporter. Yes, if you’re still reading by now, you’ll know that I used to be one of you. My editor was probably the nicest person alive (we’re still pals today) so I can only claim a partial experience. I know the pains of your emails, calls and general distractions when all you want to do is bang out a story. If I hassled you during a deadline and didn’t respect your time, I definitely deserved that no.
5. Never read your stuff. Over the years, I’ve become addicted to your columns and I genuinely look forward to the email subscription updates. Sometimes I even send feedback to your editors about my favorite stories (they’re generally the funny ones and have nothing to do with the brand I represent). Oh, but the silly gal I used to be pushed send before even Googling your name. She barely deserved the energy of a response let alone a, “no.”
To those reporters who helped me cut my teeth over the years, all I can offer is my apologies and thanks. There are some amazingly patient members of the media who never get their feathers ruffled by new classes of interns, associates or coordinators we unleash on them every summer. Now, it’s the former “no-getters” who are training the new “go getters” and the feedback is as helpful as the no’s. Thanks for the memories and especially the “no’s.”
Nicole Yelland is the Director of Marketing & Communications for Metro-Detroit start-up, Livio. At work, she focuses on sharing the Livio story about getting apps into cars and changing FM radio. In real life, she blasts 90’s rap through anything with a speaker and brews beer with her husband any chance she gets. Catch up with her on Twitter @NWlife