How to Handle the 4 Types of PR Rejection

There’s nothing better than opening the long-awaited email and reading the words, “Yes, please send it my way.” However, PR pros and beginners will both face their share of rejection. Figuring out healthy ways to respond to different types of nos not only saves stress, but you can turn them to your advantage.

The first and most important rule of all, though, is this: If it agitates you, wait before you respond. Have a pitch buddy read through your drafts before sending them out, especially when valuable professional relationships are at stake.

Types of rejection

There’s more to rejection than a flat-out no. In fact, the first rejection email can be the beginning of a productive and beneficial relationship with a reporter or blogger. The common types of rejection are the compensation seeker, the “not-now,” the classic “no” and the offended. Here’s how to handle them:

Compensation seeker

This type of rejection comes from bloggers who work a lot with sponsored content, so consider these soft rejections. These writers are used to companies pitching them products for review and inclusion in blog posts. Are you promoting a product solely for the sake of gaining customers? Pay the blogger.

There’s a difference if you’re promoting a piece of free, valuable content (for example, a non-branded free guide or instructional video) that serves primarily to inform and answer readers’ questions. This is more like sharing than advertising. In this case, explain (kindly and sincerely) your intentions to serve their readers. Let the blogger know why you chose them — because you read their blog and understand their niche – and ask politely for reconsideration. If this leads to another no, thank them kindly for their time and move to another opportunity.

“Not Now”

For some writers, your content simply won’t work with their editorial calendar this month. Respect that. Ask them for a copy of the content calendar, or what they’re planning on featuring for the next few months so you can better serve them in the future. Following and respecting their publication schedule lets them know you want the best for their readers – and for your content.

The classic no

These folks simply aren’t interested. However, they did take the time to respond to you, so you can do one of two things, depending on your best judgment of their reply.

  • If their response was simply n” send them a polite thank you note and leave it at that. Put this person on a list to reach out to in the future, but use caution – the second pitch should be for something even more relevant and appropriate for their audience. Make it count.
  • If their response is more thorough, offer them something more, such as interviews with experts, guest posts, infographics or exclusive content. Thrill them by going above and beyond for their readers.

The offended

While it’s always a good idea to go through all rejected pitches to seek out ways to improve, analyzing rejections from people who were offended is the most essential. If the recipient seems angry or frustrated with you, you’ve most likely misdirected your pitch or said something out of line with their goals.

Did you aim to create a relationship with the writer, or did you simply spray and pray with little regard to their niche? If the latter, apologize, admit your mistakes and move on. These situations cannot always be fixed, so don’t push it.

Plan B

If you’re getting no response from anyone, consider your content. It may need to be refreshed or repurposed, and it can always be used to create better, more solid content for future use. Use it for your blog or target another niche (just don’t get sloppy about targeting everyone).

Kindness is key

The last (and second-most-important) rule here is to always remain polite, sincere and even-keeled. Don’t let misunderstandings turn into discernible frustrations.

And always remember to thank your contacts.

Staying positive in the face of rejection will help you navigate the rocky road to better outreach and higher rates of success.

Image Credit: David Castillo Dominici via