Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance: How They Apply to a Public Relations Campaign

public relations, The Knight Canney Group, five stages of grief

We’ve all been there.  The five stages of grief.

Numb with disbelief, simmering rage, looking for some give and take, laid low by loss, then facing the truth: No one is going to bite on your pitch. Responses so far have ranged from dead silence to “good luck with that.”

Now comes the worst part: you knew it would end like this. Why? Because you let the client steamroll you with a project that either wasn’t ready, didn’t have a clear strategy, or, in the end, just wasn’t a good story.  A good public relations campaign starts with a good story. If you don’t have one, start pushing that boulder up the hill.

So now what? You didn’t manage client expectations , you’ve wasted some of your own capital with your media contacts, you’ve come up empty handed, and the client is still looking for coverage. Can this pitch be saved? Maybe.

Despite the enduring popularity of The Walking Dead, you really can’t raise the dead (that’s the acceptance, part), but perhaps you can dabble in reincarnation.

With the client, take a hard look at the story, the strategy, the assets, the product—if there is one—and the timing.

  • Who’s the target audience?
  • What is the story you want told?
  • Why does it matter?
  • What assets (products, information, interviews, access) will be available to help tell it?
  • Is there a better time to tell it?

If there are no clear answers to these questions, then find them, and retool the pitch. Let the reporters know you’re bringing more to the table this time. (That’s the bargaining part: if they’ll give you a few minutes of their time, you’ll have something worth hearing.) It’s a harder sell the second time around, but it’s possible.

But what, you ask, about those times when the client brings you a great story, all the assets anyone could want, interesting interviews, knockout visuals, and perfect timing? And still no one bites? What then? Well, that’s the depression part. Good luck with that.




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