How to follow up with the media

How to follow up with the media

So you’ve sent out a pitch or a media release to journalists and have received no reply. What now?

What should you do to find out if the journalist received your email or if they are interested? An essential skill for all PR professionals is to learn how to follow up with the media over the phone.

The best way to follow up with a journalist is by calling them. An appropriate time to follow-up is usually two to three days after the email pitch or release has been sent.

Never wait more than a week to follow up as waiting too long may result in the journalist deleting your email, the story being covered by another person or the story becoming (quite literally) yesterday’s news.

When it comes to following-up journalists the best advice would be to go with your gut instinct – listen to their tone of voice and the way they phrase their answers and make decisions based on that.

However, sometimes that can be a bit hard to do, so here are a few tips you should always take into account when following-up with a journalist.

Be very specific about the media pitch or release you sent them. Don’t just say “I sent you a release and wanted to know if you were interested”.

  • Be polite and speak clearly
    When calling a journalist speak clearly and be very direct and to the point. Try to sound interested and enthusiastic to make the call interesting for the journalist.
  • Don’t be afraid of journalists
    Don’t be intimidated by journalists, they are people too. If you contact them at a bad time apologise once and move on, apologising more than that can become annoying.
  • Choose your questions wisely
    When calling a journalist don’t ask them if they are going to publish the media release. Instead, tell them the date you sent the media release on and what it was regarding. Simply ask if they received the release and if they would like further information or high resolution images.
  • Be ready to respond to their requests
    You should be ready to supply the journalist with relevant images, additional information, event details or the contact details of your spokesperson. You can also line up interviews for the journalist to make it easier for them to cover your story/client.

Now that you have the journalist on the phone, how do you react to their responses? One way to calm your nerves and sound more confident on the phone would be to plan out what you want to get across – your pitch or key points.

However, any phone conversation can be unpredictable especially when dealing with a journalist. The best way to tackle any response from a journalist is to be flexible and prepared for anything. You may need to resend the release or answer detailed questions on the spot. More than likely you will need to leave a voice message, so be prepared for that.

Remember after every follow-up to make a note of the outcome to ensure you remember who you have called and who was interested.

The most important thing to remember when conducting a media follow-up is to remain confident and try to provide the most appropriate and interesting information for the journalist. With a little bit of preparation beforehand, you can then hang up the phone feeling like you’ve achieved your goal and maintained a good relationship with the journalist.

Sydney Public Relations Agency, CP Communications provides specialist media, traditional and online PR strategies that get amazing results. Contact us today. For more great tips visit our website or download our free PR eBook

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