Mastering the PR pitch follow-up

If you’ve been following our step-by-step lessons, you should have a media list, a release and have started pitching your story to the media.

The next thing you need to do is follow up. Now this is a contentious issue. Ask some journalists and editors about “follow up” and they’ll give you the death stare. Others welcome it. It’s important to show some diplomacy, and sometimes some restraint, when you follow up.

Okay so firstly what is this follow up of which we speak? Well basically it means contacting the media you have pitched to in an attempt to find out if they saw your material and if they intend to run it. Sometimes it is this reminder that is needed to get your story featured. The media receives many, many pitches every day and yours can sometimes get overlooked.

A gentle reminder will at least get them to give yours some thought. It’s also an opportunity to establish a relationship with your media contact.

So how to go about it? If you ask ten different PR people you’ll probably get ten different answers. Some prefer to re-send the email with a little note at the top like “Hi Sue, have you had a chance to read this one? Any interest for you? I thought your readers might like it because although this lamp is a great design it’s really affordable.”

Some of you might prefer to call key journalists. If you’re super confident on the phone you may get great results with just a few phone calls. Beware though, most media people these days are very, very busy so if you do decide to get on the blower just make sure you’re not interrupting them.

Say something like: “Hi Sue, it’s Lisa here from Green Babies, have I caught you at a good time?” Don’t just launch into your spiel without checking they’re on deadline. If you’re calling a TV or radio producer triple check they are not on air when you call.

If you do call the media contact have a few points written down that you hope to cover which might include things like:

• Introduce yourself and check they are not on deadline.

• Tell them you sent through a media release on (eg. Tuesday last week) and were wondering if they’ve had a chance to read it.

Offer to send a sample or to re-send the release if they’ve missed it. If they say it’s not for them ask if they can recommend anyone else in their organisation to receive it.

Usually one or two follow up emails or one phone call is enough. If you don’t hear back from the media person assume they are not interested. No one likes a stalker! If you really hassle them you could end up blocked from their email account.

A lot of the major magazines have what is called a “call out” list. That is a list of PR people and business owners as an email list. When they decide what their next issue is going to be about they send out an email to everyone on their “call out” list asking for the items they are looking for. Getting on such lists can be a huge advantage for anyone generating their own PR.

So get cracking with that follow up. You might like to make a wish list of the five magazines you’d most like to be featured in and set yourself (or a staff member) the task of finding out who the editor is and asking if they have a call out list you can be added to. Go on, you won’t regret it!

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