Originally, I had planned this post to speak exclusively about how to persevere when pitching the media. Pitching can be tough, especially when you don’t hear anything back. It can feel like you’re sending your pitches into a digital black hole. I had hoped to offer a bit of inspiration and provide strategies about how to stick with it.
Now, I’m writing this post in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the topic of not giving up is about so much more than earning press coverage. During this pandemic, many businesses—mine included—are struggling to stay afloat. This business environment is asking us to pivot faster and be more creative than ever. I know from experience that can feel exhausting and lead to questioning…well…everything.
If you’re having those moments of uncertainty, too, I want to offer my support. All this advice applies equally to media outreach and helping your business navigate a pandemic. Here’s how not to give up, even when the going gets tough.
My tendency is to research, speak to experts, and gather all the information before I take a step. However, life has taught me that sometimes you have to learn by doing, especially in business. And especially when you’re encountering the unknown. Media outreach falls into this category—as does navigating your business through a pandemic.
You can research media outlets and learn the best strategies in advance. This is your foundation. Once you start pitching yourself, you’re going to receive feedback and fine tune your pitching. You’ll get faster and more effective.
There’s no way you could have prepared for COVID-19. No matter how many leadership books you’ve read or social media strategy courses you’ve taken, you won’t know how to guide your business through this time perfectly because you never have. You just have to start, take in feedback (even moment by moment), and adapt.
I recently interviewed an artist who has enjoyed a more than forty-year career as a painter. His key advice to young artists? Keep showing up, even, and perhaps, especially when you don’t want to.
With media outreach, consistency earns you two things. First, it helps you perfect your pitching as you learn by doing. Second, pitching is a numbers game. You’re not going to land every pitch you send. By showing up and doing the work, you have a better chance of landing press coverage.
I think this piece of advice is also relevant to navigating our businesses in the midst of COVID-19. I hope that those of us who keep showing up and doing the work will be the ones who see the light on the other side.
I understand that persevering can be challenging, so I hope these tips will guide you.
No one said you had to keep pushing. If you feel discouraged or as though you’re up against an insolvable problem, take a step back. Take a break for a few hours or a day. Go for walk. Have a dance party in your kitchen, Do something else that fills you up emotionally or creatively, then come back. When you do, you’ll have more energy to invest in solving the problem or pivoting. Learn to rest, not to give up.
The voice of perfectionism can convince you the only pitch worth writing is the Best Pitch Ever. It can be daunting, and it can keep you from starting. However, you’re never going to send the perfect pitch if you don’t start. Begin in the middle. Begin at the end. Just start somewhere and refine as you go. Just start.
Helping your business survive a global pandemic? Now, that’s next level intimidating. Just take the next right step, one at a time.
Sometimes, those who don’t see results quickly enough are more likely to give up. However, with media pitching and with navigating a pandemic, the results are never going to be entirely within your control. Press outlets are going to have their own agendas and timelines. You have little power about how a virus moves through the world. So, focus on what you can control: showing up and doing the work. Perhaps that means making a goal of sending one query a day. Perhaps that means showing up and designing one new social media post about your restaurant’s take-out options during the pandemic. Focus on the actions you can control.
Success helps you gain confidence and momentum. When the ultimate goal can seem out of reach, so I give myself small wins. Those marathons I ran? I just thought about them as a series of miles. Those books I wrote? I just thought of them as series of chapters or sections. (If I’m really feeling low, I start counting getting dressed or brushing my teeth as wins, and I applaud myself greatly for them! I just use whatever I need at the time to get going!) Identify achievable small goals and let those successes build your confidence.
Don’t give yourself an out. As soon as you do, your mind will start exploring that train of thought. So, don’t let that spiral start. Instead, focus on your core motivations, otherwise known as your why. Why do you want media coverage? To grow your business? To launch a new product? To earn enough revenue you can hire an employee and leave work in time to take your kid to soccer practice? Great. Focus on that. Remember your ultimate goal and keep moving forward.