The PR rollercoaster


I’ve worked in a few PR roles over the years.

Every day is different and projects can include issues management, event management, web writing, publicity stunts, drafting columns, researching niche publications, organising stakeholder meetings .. and so much more.

But a lot of my work is in media pitching – which for the PR novice, means sending a story idea to a journalist in the hope of gaining coverage.


I put a lot of thought and effort into this. I don’t mass-distribute media releases, use media distribution services, BCC a whole bunch of journos with one overarching message. I get to know what individual journalists might need and prefer, and tend to send them personalised media pitches which could help them in their jobs.

So when I receive a positive response from a media outlet, I celebrate. (Briefly and quietly with a  “Yisssssss” moment at my desk, but a celebration nevertheless).

It might mean a newspaper article for my client; a radio interview; a TV station visiting their worksite; or their guest blog post published. They’re all wins.

It’s ratification of my methods and something I can share with a happy client. It’s a great feeling that can come with an adrenalin rush depending on the prominence of the media piece.

At the same time, when a journalist rejects one of my media concepts (or worse still, a concept is rejected by several likely outlets), that’s disappointing. It’s a vexing low point which puts a dark cloud over my desk.

I bounce back quickly. You have to, in this business.

But it does mean that PR life, especially in the media relations niche, is a rollercoaster.

When you work as a sole consultant, like I do, this can be tricky to manage. There are no colleagues to commiserate, pat you on the back or urge you on. The rollercoaster of results and emotions is something you need to deal with on your own. The highs can be addictive; the lows demoralising.

Here’s some tactics I use to manage the dips in the rollercoaster:

  • Focus on moving forward: a rejection means that the job isn’t done yet. Your client still wants a result. So I look at ‘what’s next’ on my list and bash that work out.
  • Learn from the rejected pitch: consider for a short time why the story wasn’t newsworthy and how you can change this in the future. Often, a journalist is kind enough to let you know: it may be that they have written on this topic too often before, the idea may be rejected by their chief of staff, there might be a commercial arrangement in place with another spokesperson and so on. (This is something your client can learn from, too).
  • Remember your wins: I have a pinup board full of client newspaper clippings near my keyboard. That makes me smile.

Do you work in PR or carry out a lot of media pitching? How do you ride the rollercoaster? Share in comments below.

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