Earned media (that oh-so-coveted free media coverage of your brand or small business) is invaluable for building buzz.
But as its name suggests, you've got to EARN it. Don't just sit back and twiddle your thumbs after you send an email pitch to a journalist or distribute a press release. Whether you're pitching a story to a local newspaper or any other media outlet, these follow-up tips will make sure your PR efforts are effective.
WARNING: Continue reading at your own risk. Only follow these tips and strategies if you want a journalist to get excited about your story, and share your company or brand with her media's entire audience.
A recent study of more than 1,000 journalists found that one out of every four journalists receive 10 or more pitches a day. Now, consider your already busy inbox. Then, imagine if you were pitched 70+ stories a week from different brands, small businesses and entrepreneurs.
While your new event or product release might be exceptionally exciting to you, the journalist has a lot on her plate. A slow response doesn't mean you're being ignored — the journalist probably just hasn't scrolled down that far yet!
Wait two or three days before reaching out. If you're too pushy, you might just get marked as spam (and no one likes spam, except for maybe Hawaiians).
Of course, there may be a few exceptions. For example, if you're pitching to a radio show or a TV station about something that's time-sensitive, you might want to follow up the next day.
And if you're pitching a quarterly print magazine, they're likely working many, many months ahead on their editorial calendar. Consider waiting a week or two. Or better yet, check their media kit — most make it available online — to see when ads need to be submitted by (that's a good clue of how much lead time you have before your window closes).
The low-effort way to send your first follow up is by simply asking, "Did you get my previous email?"
But let's be honest. How well has that been working out for you? If you've succeeded in getting the media to knock down your door, we wouldn't be here, would we?
In fact, in this day and age, emails rarely if ever get "lost." If you didn't get a response yet, it's likely because whatever you initially sent to them didn't appeal to them. If you want to clamber out of the journalist's deleted folder, you're going to have to step it up a notch.
Your goal here is to make it as easy for the journalist as possible. The less work you make for them, the more likely they'll take your story and run with it:
Don't just reply in the same email thread as your original pitch. In the worst-case scenario, the journalist deleted your previous pitch and this just reminds them that they already "vetted" you.
In a best-case scenario, it highlights to them that you've pitched them before. Even if you think they'll like your new pitch, you've psychologically primed them to turn you down.
Instead, send your follow-up to the same person, but in a brand-new email with a fresh new subject line.
They say that the third time's the charm. But for most journalists, the third time puts you on the do-not-answer list.
If you're consistently being ignored, learn from it:
Every pitch you send (including the ones that get ignored) is a learning opportunity to hone your craft and flex your earned media marketing muscles. Embrace the challenge, and it will pay off in dividends.
If you want to be a source for journalists who are actively seeking new story ideas, join SourceBottle today. The media wants your story. Get free publicity now!