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Tactical Patience: The Counterintuitive Art of Giving Good Pitches Time

A few weeks ago, I received a note from a reporter responding to a pitch I sent using Help A Reporter Out more than a year ago.  This person now had a different story in mind, was in a crunch for time, and wanted to know if I could help.

Events like this have happened many times in my career.  I find a story angle that’s very relevant and timely, draft a pitch, send a personal pitch note to a reporter, and… nothing happens.

At least, nothing happens in the short term.

In the long run, those pitches often make their way to a special folder a reporter might keep in their inbox for future reference.  In other words, they cannot use it now, but maybe they can in the future so it’s worth keeping the topic on file.

When this happens it’s a form of validation – a compliment even – that goes unknown until weeks, months or even years later.  It’s also the confluence of several ideas: staying true to good PR principles, following essential pitching tips in daily practice, and a concept called tactical patience.

Tactical patience simply means allowing time for events to unfold.  We live in a world that seems to have been deeply influenced by immediate gratification.  We post a blog post and get concerned when we don’t see immediate social sharing; we publish a press release and worry when there isn’t a call back; we send a pitch and then question its value when there isn’t an immediate response.

I suggest that, in media relations, we trust the process.   If we send good pitches and don’t receive a call back right away, relax, we should demonstrate tactical patience.  A relevant pitch, with a good story for a specific reporter, will generally come back around.  PR is a marathon, not a sprint.

Image: Dennis Wright (Creative Commons)

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