I can’t remember what hurt more: the rejection from my middle school crush, or being cast as ‘TREE NUMBER ONE’ in the school play for four years in a row. Little did my 12-year-old self know, rejection wasn’t going to end in the halls of Black River Middle School. In fact, it would carry on as I grew up. And I wasn’t the only one – everyone faces rejection at one time or another.
It didn’t matter if I had perfected my college essay and application to Providence College, I was still going to be deferred. I could layer on as much bronzer and eye shadow as possible, but Adam still wasn’t going to like me back. Doors being slammed in my face would become my new normal.
It got to the point where I would count on being rejected, and to make matters worse, I was headed toward a career in fashion. It’s safe to say that my fate was pretty much determined for me. Rejection was going to be a constant in my life, but I was insistent on ‘breaking into’ the industry and wasn’t willing to take ‘no’ for an answer.
Shortly after graduation, I was offered an opportunity at a luxury retailer in the marketing department – a small victory considering my track record. There I was: doe-eyed, passionate and more naïve than ever. One raise, a lot of monotony and endless coffee runs later, I decided to jump back into the hell that can be job searching. This time, I was going to get exactly what (I thought) I wanted. I applied to nearly every fashion company that was hiring. From Bergdorf Goodman to XOXO – my name and resume were in their inbox. No, literally. If I wasn’t in their inbox, it was in their LinkedIn InMails, Facebook PMs, Instagram DMs or Twitter. I went crazy girlfriend on them, and stalked everyone from HR to the Marketing and PR departments, until I got an interview. After countless awkward handshakes and elevator pitches, I landed at a PR agency specializing in accessory brands and have continued this crazy career in media relations ever since.
It turns out that my clever stalking skills and determination in job searching prepared me for the life of a publicist. Which is why I’m here to lend some advice on ways to handle pitch rejections.
1. Don’t be afraid to be persistent. If you don’t hear from anyone via email, reach out to them on social media. Editors receive hundreds, if not thousands of pitches in their inboxes daily; tweeting at them may catch their attention, or at the least, give them reason to believe it’s worth reading about your client. And don’t be reluctant to send several different pitches if you still haven’t gotten a response. Trust me, they’ll remember you when they need you.
2. When no really does mean no. Our own account supervisor Brooks Wallace always says, “No means maybe.” But I’m here to tell you that, sometimes, no does in fact mean no. Similar to a childhood crush, if he doesn’t like you, he doesn’t like you. Things aren’t going to miraculously change. If an editor says that those backpacks aren’t a fit, well—then, they might actually not be a fit. And that’s OK. There are plenty of fish in the sea. Just like there are plenty of outlets in the media-sphere. Perhaps that editor even knows someone who is working another story where your client could fit in. Just ask!
3. Take it as a lesson. Listen, you put yourself out there, you made yourself vulnerable and you did the best you could. Think about what your mom might say: “They don’t know what they’re missing.” It’s true, they might not, but sometimes the stars just aren’t aligned. Plus, facing rejection will also help you to understand the media contacts you’re pitching, and the types of angles that might work for them.
No matter the outcome, it’s important to stay positive and understand that social media is a viable resource, there are more than enough outlets in the sea, there’s always tomorrow – and when desperate: sign up for Tinder.
– Jackie Dunn