By: Tom Donda
You’ve crafted your pitch, compiled your contact list, and sent personalized emails with an intriguing subject line. With these carefully crafted press materials you’re sure to score that big placement, right? You could get lucky, but a large bulk of success comes from one’s ability to effectively and carefully follow-up with a reporter.
There is a plethora of tips and advice for perfecting the art of the PR follow-up. Everyone’s opinion differs from publication to publication and from reporter to editor. Below are some key tips and strategies for landing a placement during step two of the pitching process.
Before you’re ready to make those follow-up phone calls make sure that you’re prepared. Being well versed with the press materials is just as important as knowing who your contact is, their beat and whether they prefer phone calls to emails.
Email follow to some is much more efficient as reporters are always on the move hunting down their next story. It’s important to keep these messages short and jam-packed with all your main points. With phone follow-up the same applies, reporters are tight on time and need you to be as clear and to-the-point as possible. Always start off by asking if they are on deadline or have a minute to talk before launching into a pitch.
Chances are that you won’t get the appropriate contact on the phone or through email right away. The age-old saying that patience is a virtue rings true with follow-ups. Be persistent, but not pestering. The time between sending your pitch and following up is key to allow that contact ample time to go through the material. Most reporters prefer at least 24 hours before you follow up. In the meantime, it’s best to brainstorm some new points or something exclusive that adds to the value of your initial pitch.
When that initial interest is expressed, don’t get too excited. Remain poised and follow up appropriately to transform interest into a locked-in placement.
Don’t Overload Your Contact
Digital public relations consultant and author Carrie Morgan is a 22-year veteran of agency and corporate marketing for big clients. One tweet she sent stays in the forefront of my mind when following up:
Do not bombard you’re contact with follow-up emails. The more you send the less likely they will cover your story. In your initial pitch it’s easy and effective to inquire when the best time to follow-up. This will save face and allow you the opportunity to go back to your contact with some new points.
Once you’ve exhausted each attempt to follow-up it’s time to let go and move on to a more appropriate contact. Continue to do your research, be prepared, and be patient, these are the keys to perfecting the art of follow-up.
The big story ran and your client is over joyed, but what’s next?
Staying engaged with your media contact is important. But what’s even more pertinent is just how you keep in contact with them. Interacting with them via social media is always a great way to keep in contact with the reporter. Commenting on the reporters social media posts, congratulating them on a promotion or work anniversary are all ways to professional stay engaged with your contact. Some reporters want more page views on their articles, so be sure to share the final post via social media and ask that the client do the same.
Reporters are always looking for sources. While your particular pitch may tailor to a specific topic it may not work with the reporter’s current beat or area of interest. Feel free to inquire about any stories they’re currently working on or if they’re looking for a specific interview subject. This could be an easy way to squeeze in any sources you may have and lock in a bonus placement without targeting the contact with a specific pitch. Stay engaged, but do not unload all your pitches to a reporter just because you have a good working relationship. If you do so, your email address may make its way to their spam filter permanently.