The New Stuff

Follow up right with journalists: 3 golden rules

You have the perfect story for a big-name journalist at a blog or media outlet with a huge national following. This story would be perfect for the audience and your client has provided awesome photos. The problem is, this journalist won’t get back to you.

We’ve all been there. There’s nothing as frustrating as radio silence on the other end after sending a mail. If you really want your story out there, you have to follow up.

Here are the three rules of circling back with a journalist—if you want your story to be published.

  1. Be nice.Sounds obvious, right? The cliché “you catch more flies with honey” was coined for a reason. But you wouldn’t believe how many PR types get downright nastywhen a journalist doesn’t get back to them right away. Yes, it’s maddening to be ignored. But don’t get snappy, mean or offended when someone doesn’t reply. Instead:
  • Stay polite
  • Offer the person the benefit of the doubt
  • Acknowledge that they are very busy and may have missed your mail

Journalists will not be bullied into printing your piece. They’ll be so annoyed that they will file all future releases from you and your client in the trash.

  1. Keep it short. If a journalist is to read your story, make it quick, straight to the point, and easy for your target to read and comment on. Big-name journalists and bloggers are inundated by so many press releases that they miss a few or forget to reply. A one-line follow-up brings the issue back to their attention in a simple, straightforward way.

If you write more than one line, keep it as short as possible. Show that you respect the time of the people you target. A short follow-up proves it.

  1. Give it some time. You may be impatient to get your client’s message out, but that’s not the big-time journalist’s concern. They’re busy. They may be working on dozens of stories right now. Don’t send a pushy follow-up 24 hours after the initial press release. Worse, don’t follow up a few hours after the initial release lands in their inbox.

Give it some time, at least a few days, but preferably more. If it’s been four days or more and you’re pretty sure the release was ignored, then it is okay to follow up. But if you do it too soon, you risk ticking her off.

The bottom line

Patience, pluckiness and politeness will go a long way in following up with journalists. And don’t forget to address him/her by their right names.

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