You’ve just sent off a media pitch you’ve spent weeks working on and perfecting. You’ve curated a list of media outlets likely to be interested in the story you’re telling. You’ve done the work to ensure pick up. So, what comes next?
While we would all like to imagine our inboxes filling up with interview requests from journalists, we know a response like that is a rarity. Instead, it’s best to prepare a follow-up plan for your initial pitch so you can keep the dialogue open and headed in a positive direction (aka getting your story covered)!
How Long Should You Wait Before Following Up?
While there’s no set time limit you should wait before following up on a pitch, the rule of thumb is typically within one week from your initial email. However, it all depends on the type of pitching initiative you’re working with. For example, one to two weeks may be fine when you’re long lead pitching to a magazine, but if you’re working with a quick turnaround for an event that’s taking place the following week, you may need to come well within the one-week timeframe. For big announcements and news conferences we’ve followed up with media the same day to make sure the story is on their radar.
According to the State of Journalism 2021 study conducted by Muck Rack,
- 86 per cent of journalists are OK with a follow-up email within one week of the initial pitch; the other 14 per cent prefer a follow-up over one week from the initial pitch
- 90 per cent of journalists say it’s OK to send at least one follow-up email; 38 per cent say two or more
In general, you want to give the media enough time to open your pitch and consider it without coming off desperate with an overly eager follow-up email. It’s important to remember that you’re building a relationship with journalists, editors and media outlets. And these relationships can help you determine when, and how often, you should follow up.
How Many Times Should You Follow Up?
While it might seem like you have nothing to lose by sending multiple emails, the fact of the matter is you do and it comes in the form of a spam button. The last thing you want is to get “marked as spam” by the journalist you’re trying to create a relationship with.
We recommend sending no more than two follow-ups, or a total of three emails, including your initial pitch. If you’re filling up a journalist’s inbox with follow-up emails that go unresponded, it’s time to move on to another contact. In our line of work, rejection is an unfortunate part of the journey for media coverage and it’s best to use your time and resources pursuing as many contacts as possible rather than fixating on one, no matter how badly you want them to cover your story.
How Should You Follow Up?
Although picking up the phone may seem like the quickest way to get a response, email is considered the best way to contact journalists for several reasons. First, it allows you to provide additional information to your initial pitch in a way the journalist can go back and revisit. It also ensures that you’re not contacting them at an inconvenient time, for example, when they’re out interviewing subjects or working on a story.
According to Cutting Edge PR, following up via phone call is effective only if:
- You have the reporter’s direct line or cell phone number
- You already have a good working relationship with them
- The topic of your pitch is within their speciality area
In general, it’s best practice to stick to email when communicating with journalists unless you have a relationship with them or you need an immediate response (ie. to confirm their attendance at a news conference).
How Should You Craft Your Follow-Up?
It’s best to keep your follow-up short, polite and to the point. Remind them of the news you have to share and why they and the publication they work for would be the best place to cover it.
Be a resource to help the journalist do their job and they will be more likely to want to cover your story. Be ready to provide additional details such as data or interview subjects if requested but also advise them you are available and ready to answer any questions they may have.
Here is an example of a pitch follow-up email:
My name is <your name>, from <your company>. I’m following up on a press release we sent to you on <date sent>.
We know that <topic> is important to your readership and expands on what you covered earlier on <similar topic>. Just a quick recap on what you should know about our release:
- Your key statement
- Why it’s important to them
- Other relevant information – stats, data, etc.
Please find the full news release attached, as well as a media kit which includes photos and videos. Let me know if you have any questions or would like more information – we’re happy to set up an interview with <spokesperson> so you can get more details.
Thank you in advance and look forward to hearing from you soon!
This email format hits all the points you’ll want to include in your follow-up email. Remember, if you can make the journalist’s work as straightforward and easy as possible, the probability that they’ll cover your story increases.
Have a news story? We specialize in writing media pitches (and following up!) so our clients get the best possible media coverage for their stories. Reach out and we’ll see what we can do to share your news.