PR 101: Knowing When & How to Pivot Your PR Narrative

You’ve drafted your pitch, found your media targets and crafted the perfectly pithy subject line. You’re confident that the angles you’re pitching are strong and timely and will be of interest to the media and their audiences.

But what happens when your media relations efforts aren’t as successful as anticipated?

As a communications professional working in an ever-changing and fast-paced news landscape, it is just as important to pivot as it was to set your initial strategy. Below are a few signs to know when it’s time to pivot the game and tips for getting back on track.

Feedback – or lack thereof

I often say that any feedback is better than none – even if it’s a blunt “not interested” – as it gives you at least a bit of insight into how a topic is being received. However, knowing how strapped reporters are today, it is possible to receive radio silence. As frustrating as the latter can be, force yourself to think about why and be honest about what you could have done better at the start: Did you take the time to really understand the editorial priorities of all your targets before hitting send? Did you do enough research into whether the topic has been widely covered before? Was your pitch easy to quickly understand?

If the answer to any of these is “no,” don’t be afraid to pause and go back to the drawing board. Bring in other team members to brainstorm or give their own feedback on your pitch as unbiased parties.

More timely hooks

Is your hook still timely? The news cycle is constant and volatile, so a hook that was eye-catching two days ago may not be relevant anymore. Challenge yourself to see connections between topics that aren’t typically linked to craft fresh angles, but don’t go so far out of the box that your proposition seems forced.

Client goals & counsel

You and your team aligned on goals beforehand to ensure your pitching efforts were on track with their positioning and priorities. But remember to harken back to these every time you pivot so you don’t lose sight of the end goals. It can be easy to get caught up in the moment, trying to meet metrics, but a change in direction always needs to be strategic.

If you’ve exhausted all possibilities, discuss as a team how you can share the media feedback, your alternative courses of action and the final outcome, to counsel them on why the efforts weren’t as successful as hoped and how you can apply the learnings to future plans.

Keep in Touch

Want fresh perspective on communications trends & strategy? Sign up for the SHIFT/ahead newsletter.

Ready to shift ahead?

Let's talk