It’s a great feeling when you hit “Send” after crafting a killer pitch for media coverage, selecting just the right contacts to receive it and putting it all together in an email campaign that you’re sure is going to impress. Time to sit back and wait for the stampede of journalists to start banging on your door, right?
Well, maybe. A more likely scenario is that you’ve just sent out the first line in a dialogue that’s just getting started. Having a plan for following up on your first email is a key part of any overall strategy and keeping those dialogues headed in the right direction. That’s our focus here in this post—how to follow up on a media pitch.
And by “follow up”, we mean send a second (and sometimes third and final) email. Journalists repeatedly and overwhelmingly make it clear that they prefer email as a communication channel for PR pitches.
Want to irritate a journalist or make them feel like they have a stalker? Pick up the phone and call them the day after sending your press release to them. Want to keep an open channel of communication going and persuade a media contact that they should be interested in your message? Send a PR pitch follow-up email.
How to create a PR follow-up email
These simple tips will help you to get the best response when circling back to media contacts you’ve already reached out to.
Let’s start with the question of how long you should wait before following up.
It’s a common question and for good reason. Having a follow-up plan in place is part of your media pitch strategy but how do you know when to pull the trigger on it? While there’s no perfect recipe for the timing of your follow-up to your media pitch, some general rules still apply.
Allow for a reasonable amount of time to pass. Ok, we admit that “reasonable” is vague and it will vary from one situation to another. But it’s important to remember that journalists get lots of messages and even those who carefully check their inboxes will need time to get to yours.
The more time you spend in the media relations game, the better feel you will have for what is typical in your industry. Just remember that you have to give things time to work themselves out and that means expecting some quiet time after you send your first campaign.
If you have to choose between a little earlier and a little later, go with later. Giving recipients enough time to respond to your first media pitch email—even if that response is an open with no reply—can be hard to do in the excitement surrounding your push for media coverage.
While you may be refreshing your mail every few seconds, looking for good news, your recipients may not have even started going through their daily deluge of emails yet. Pro tip—the best time to follow up is often 24 hours after you really want to follow up.
Another reason to wait is that you don’t want to seem too desperate, irritating or any one of a thousand other negative adjectives recipients might think of when you follow up too quickly. You don’t want to be the email equivalent of a kid in the backseat of a car asking “Are we there yet?” every two minutes.
Give people the space they need to do things on their own. A happy medium followed by many PR pros is three days from the first media pitch to the follow-up email. It’s a good balance between rushing things with unreasonable expectations and waiting too long before being forgotten under a mountain of new emails.
How many times should you follow up?
Then there’s the matter of how many follow-ups you should send and this one has an easy answer—two, for a total of three attempts at contact altogether. Sending any more than two follow-ups to your original PR pitch email becomes counterproductive in a couple of ways.
First, you’re almost certainly wasting your time and resources. If knocking on the same door three times doesn’t get you anywhere, chances are a fourth try won’t either. Focus your time and attention on remaining opportunities instead of very low-probability miracles.
Secondly, filling a contact’s inbox with message after message could result in unintended negative consequences. Say, for example, a journalist returns after a long holiday to find some ridiculous number of messages asking “Did you get my last mail???” over and over.
Not only does this look unprofessional, but there’s a chance he or she could decide that your activity looks spammy as well. Remember that the “Mark as spam” button is never far away and once that gets clicked, your emails will disappear into a void, never to return to the land of the living. Trust us when we say that it just isn’t worth the risk.
Lastly, on the subject of sticking to three follow-ups, remember to use the third one to make it clear that you won’t be writing again on this topic but your door remains open. Leave your contact information, any relevant links or materials and express regret that you couldn’t connect this time. Remember that there will always be a next time.
Get the tone and style right
In terms of the tone and style of your media pitch follow-up, common sense applies here. First and foremost, the need to be professional and polite is obvious. You’re both representing your brand and asking for time and attention from journalists who may or may not be interested. Respect their time by getting to the point and being direct about the news you have to share and your desire for them to cover it in their publication.
If your first outreach to them covered this well, your follow-up is simply a matter of renewing your offer to make it easy for them to learn more. Don’t underestimate the importance of being professional and the danger of being pushy.
Speaking of learning more, be ready to provide details or assist journalists in getting to know the subject of your PR better. If your first PR pitch was enough to gain their interest and ask for more, you should be ready to help. This could mean supplying statistics, interviews, background or anything else that could provide context for eventual media coverage.
In your follow-up, you can mention that you have such resources ready to go. It’s also a good time to remind contacts that you’re available to talk things over at any time that’s good for them.
Sometimes the answer is “No, thanks”
Rejection is unfortunately part of the quest for media coverage. If your follow-up media pitch remains untouched, take it as a sign that you may have hit a dead end with this particular contact (and you may want to verify that the address is still valid). You may even get a thanks-but-no-thanks answer from a media contact, in which case you need to move on after thanking them for their time and promising to be in touch in the future when you have something else that might interest them.
Always play the long game when dealing with rejection and focus on building relationships for the future!
Media pitch follow-up examples
Your follow-up can be based on a template format with the details easily substituted from one context to another. Here’s an example of what a second attempt at reaching out might look like:
Hi again, (Name),
It’s (your name) with (brand or company) here. I’m just following up on my mail from a couple of days ago with a reminder that I’m available to talk about this at any time that might be good for you.
As I mentioned before, this topic (is trending, aligns with your audience, expands on something you wrote recently—some mention of why it’s a good subject for now). Here’s the short version of what you need to know:
- Top-level statement about news you want to share
- Why it’s important
- Relevant stats, charts, data, etc.
You’ll find the full, detailed version in our online newsroom here.
Thanks for your time and I look forward to hearing from you!
Hopefully this will be enough to spark some interest because your next email, your third, will be the last. Use it to repeat your message while making it clear that you’re moving on while remaining open to contact:
We haven’t been able to connect regarding my earlier messages but that’s ok—I’m sure it’s a busy time for you.
Let me just leave this behind for you in case you get around to it later. I originally wrote to you regarding (subject). We’ve got some really interesting information for your readers, including:
All the details about this particular topic along with information about us can be found in our online newsroom, here. We’re ready to help in any way we can if you’d like to learn more.
Thanks again and I hope I can reach out to you the next time we’d like to share information that your readers would find engaging.
How to follow up using Prowly
Prowly makes it easy to plan and automate your media pitch follow-up emails with all the tools you’ll need. Everything starts with visibility into your contacts’ responses to your original email pitch. Depending on how they reacted to that message, you can create targeted segments using more precise language suited to the situation.
Craft one message for those who never saw your first one…
Your first segment consists of those who didn’t open your previous mail. This time, there’s no point in using language like “Did you have a chance to look at…” or anything like that because you know they didn’t even open the message. Of course they haven’t looked at it, thought about it or anything else.
In your follow-up, it’s okay to reference the earlier attempt to reach them but you still need to include all the relevant must-have information from the first message. Don’t tell anyone to go back and hunt for the first mail, make it easy by repeating what they need to know.
…and another for those who did…
Then there are those who did open the previous mail but haven’t responded. Again, this segment is easy to create using insights from Prowly. Remember that you can’t be sure if they actually read the content or not, you only know that they opened the message so don’t assume they recall everything from your original pitch.
In your follow-up, be sure to keep the tone light and bear in mind that getting right back to you isn’t a priority for most people. The goal here is keep your name or brand fresh in their minds and build on what you’ve already shared.
…and another for anyone who clicked on a link
If you included a link in your first mail, maybe to an online newsroom, you have another metric to use when creating segments for your follow-up message. Anyone who clicked on the link has shown a greater degree of interest in what you have to share and that should inform the kind of content you include in your media pitch follow-up.
Since clicking on your link is the most positive reaction you can measure so far—even better than just opening your message—you may want to consider a slightly stronger tone when asking for more engagement in your second mail or including additional data, links etc.
After sending your first mail, Prowly assists you in creating segments that open new opportunities for more personalized communication in your follow-up. Those who didn’t open your first message, those who did, and those who opened and clicked a link can be organized into different groups for different messaging.
Each of these groups is better served with a follow-up PR pitch that reflects where they are in terms of their interest in you and familiarity with your message.
With Prowly, you can keep the dialogue going until the subject turns to how you can get your message out to the world through media coverage. If you haven’t tried Prowly before, now’s a great time to open a free account.