The 5 Basic Journalist Responses to PR Pitches

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When getting into the business of pitching PR stories, you’ll eventually come to recognize common responses from journalists. From happy acceptance to disgusted confusion, they will run the gamut. It can also be tough to gauge exactly what they mean. Instead of taking years to discover them, though, how about we just list them for you?

1. Sure, That Might Work

This might sound like a non-response, but it’s typically what a journalist will say when your press release stands a good chance of getting printed. It’s going to be rare for any reporter to jump up and down for joy when pitched a PR story, so this response is the best you can get.

It means the journalist can “see” the story on the printed page. They can’t guarantee its inclusion by any means, but them acknowledging you have a good idea is all you can really hope for.

Pulling Hair

2. Hmmm

Oof, your basic idea might need some sprucing up. A rough equivalent to “hmmm” is someone telling you your story is “interesting” and walking away. Obviously, it’s not, but they don’t know how to tell you that, so the journalist just says “hmmm.” This response means it’s time to decide if the story is truly newsworthy or not. It may just be putting readers to sleep.

3. We’ll Consider It

This can go one of two ways. First, and most likely, they are super busy at the newspaper where your journalist works and he or she literally has no time to think about the press release right now. However, it could be just a way to get you off the phone.

This is a good time to mark them down as “maybe” in your notebook and send a follow-up email later. Don’t bother with a phone call – whichever the case may be, you won’t get much of a response. Send a polite email and if you hear back, consider yourself lucky.

4. Helpful

Some journalists (typically the not-swamped-right-now ones) will say no to your pitch, but will be willing to give you tips on how to fix it. They’ve heard and seen many pitches and releases before and know what it takes to get a press release printed, so listen to them. It could be anything from the aforementioned “not newsworthy” to the idea being jumbled and confusing. If you ever run into a journalist like this, mark them with a huge gold star, because they are as rare as unicorns. (Editors are more likely to fit this role.)

5. Not Helpful

Unfortunately, because the journalist is busy or doesn’t care, you may get a “no” response that isn’t helpful at all. This can be worded from a curt “no thanks” to a more passive aggressive “we’re not taking press releases at this time.” The only thing you can do when faced with a non-helpful “no” response to your pitch is to move on.

What are some crazy responses you’ve received from journalists?

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (, the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Download your free copy of the Beginner’s Guide to Writing Powerful Press Releases here:

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