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We’ve talked a LOT about what to do before and while writing your media pitch. After all, we provide you with the tools, insight, and guidance that help your pitches get special attention from journalists.
There’s a third phase when it comes to writing an email pitch that’s just as important as the initial researching and writing. This third phase can cause a lot of unexpected anxiety to new and seasoned PR folks alike.
What to do after you’ve pitched a journalist?
- What is the proper etiquette for sending a follow-up email?
- How long should you wait before sending a follow-up email to a journalist?
- How do you write effective follow-up emails that won’t irritate journalists?
- Should you even send a follow-up email at all, or if you haven’t heard back after a couple of days, assume the journalist isn’t interested and move on?
Well, today’s post has the answers to all of these questions. In this week’s episode of our “How to Pitch A Journalist” series, we’ll tell you the ins and outs of how to follow-up with a journalist.
Table of Contents
HOW TO FOLLOW UP TO A MEDIA PITCH
Following up with the media doesn’t have to cause anxiety. Let’s go over if, when, and how to send a proper follow-up email to a journalist that will get results, not resentment.
SHOULD YOU SEND A FOLLOW-UP EMAIL TO A JOURNALIST?
The short answer is: yes. It’s perfectly alright to send a follow-up email to a journalist you’ve pitched. You’re not the only person in a journalist’s inbox, so sending a polite and professional follow-up email is totally appropriate.
HOW LONG SHOULD YOU WAIT BEFORE SENDING A FOLLOW-UP EMAIL?
Try and remember that journalism is one of the most overworked and underappreciated careers you’ll find. Their deadlines are short, and they have very little time to eat lunch, let alone check their email inbox every five minutes.
It’s not unusual for a journalist to take more than one business day to respond to emails. They’re out chasing breaking news stories to share with the public, give them some breathing room.
We understand that your story is important, possibly even time-sensitive… but that’s on your company to prepare adequately for, not the journalist.
Every journalist has different procedures when it comes to responding to pitches, but we polled journalists on Reddit to get a rough idea.
We asked journalists how long a publicist should wait before sending a follow-up email.
The general consensus was publicists should wait three days to a week before sending a follow-up email. That way, you’re almost guaranteed not to seem pushy.
THINK OF IT LIKE THIS: Imagine if you had just waited a week instead of one or two days? You might’ve gotten a response without needing to follow up at all.
If you just can’t wait a week, then wait at least three days before sending a follow-up.
HOW TO WRITE AN EFFECTIVE FOLLOW-UP EMAIL
If you’ve passed the recommended wait time above without a response, then it’s okay to send a follow-up email. Don’t worry too much if you haven’t received any replies, though. There are a few reasons you’re hearing cricket sounds when you open your inbox.
1.) Your pitch could be phenomenal but got lost in the fray of a busy journalist’s day.
2.) Perhaps you sent it during a “deadline” day/week.
3.) Maybe your pitch didn’t even make it into their inbox because your subject line triggered a SPAM filter.
(Don’t worry, we’ll explain exactly how to avoid that from happening in a bit)
PAY ATTENTION TO YOUR SUBJECT LINE
A follow-up subject line is just as important as the initial subject line(probably even more so). Make it clear that you’re following up but try to keep it enticing! Your subject line is the first impression, make it a good one.
Another good tactic, simply reply to your first initial email. This way journalists can see you’ve reached out to them once before and they have not responded yet. Bonus: you don’t have to create a new subject line!
BE CONCISE & COURTEOUS
Keep your follow-up email even shorter than your initial pitch. There’s no reason to repeat yourself. It’s also important to continue to provide valuable information rather than “check-in” with them. Here’s an example:
In case you missed my previous message, I wanted to tell you more about [insert pitch]. Here are a few extra pieces of information that were not included in my original email:
- Detail 1
- Detail 2
- Detail 3
Please let me know if you’re interested to speak further!
(by all means, feel free to steal this and use it as a template)
AVOID SPAM TRIGGER WORDS
Make sure that your emails aren’t getting sent to the SPAM or PROMOTIONS folder.
Gmail (especially) is VERY STRICT on its spam policy. Its algorithm checks for specific words or phrases that can impact whether your email even GETS to an inbox!
Even seemingly benign words like “chance” or “here” can trigger email spam algorithms and send your painstakingly crafted pitch to the “promotions” or spam folder.
Be as cautious as you are strategic when writing your pitch headline, and stay ahead of the trends. Brush up on “SPAM Trigger Words” from trusted resources every couple of months.
Here’s an in-depth post from marketing colossus, HubSpot, listing words that trigger spam filters!
We suggest you bookmark this page so you can have it open while drafting your email pitches from now on.
HOW TO KNOW IF A JOURNALIST JUST ISN’T INTERESTED?
If a journalist isn’t interested in your story, they may not always respond, so don’t get discouraged or think you’ve done something wrong.
If you’ve followed OnePitch’s advice on writing effective pitches, you’re likely to receive a reply one way or another. Journalists are people too, and they’ll want to reciprocate the professionalism and courtesy you showed them.
One of the journalists we polled said that they NEVER wanted to receive a follow-up from a publicist (again, every journalist is different), so don’t take it to heart.
However, if you wait another few days without a response to your follow-up email, just move on.
BUT WHAT IF YOU HAVEN’T EVEN WRITTEN A PITCH YET?
We like that you’re already thinking a few steps ahead. We’ve got you covered. Here are…
5 QUICK TIPS ON HOW TO WRITE A PITCH TO THE MEDIA:
PITCH TO RELEVANT JOURNALISTS
Make sure you’re only reaching out to journalists working in your industry. This additional research can increase your chances of getting your story published.
WRITE GOOD SUBJECT LINES
Email subject lines are critical. Not only do they impact whether your pitch ends up as spam, but they also determine if a journalist even bothers reading your pitch at all! Avoid trigger words. Keep it engaging. And just like everything else: Make it quick.
Keep your pitch two to three sentences at most. Make every word count. It should also be easy to digest. Don’t waste time on flattery; just focus on why your pitch matters.
It’s fine to include relevant data/stats/etc. The more facts you include, the better. Just add additional information below your initial pitch where it won’t be overwhelming.
Industry buzzwords have the opposite effect than what you may intend. Keep your language simple, and you’ll sound HEAPS more qualified than someone trying to ‘sound smart‘ by using flowery language.
WANT MORE AWESOME MEDIA PITCHING TIPS?
We made you something super special! Go check out our FREE eBook: PR 101: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO PITCHING. We delve deep into how to send the perfect pitch, and give you helpful examples to inspire you!
ONEPITCH IS HERE TO HELP YOU PITCH LIKE A PRO
Not only do we share helpful tips to make sure your pitch is top-notch, but we also have input from actual journalists about why our suggestions are essential to a good outcome.
By the way, publicist friend, if you haven’t signed up to OnePitch yet…
WHAT ARE YA WAITING FOR?
You’re missing out on crazy-important insight, tips, and entertainment! If you want to be a publicist that journalists love working with, you can’t afford not to subscribe!
FOLLOW-UP EMAILS MADE EASY
As you can see, writing a follow-up email isn’t that complicated. Remember today’s tips for sending a follow-up email to a journalist, and you’ll never have to worry. Take pride in knowing how to send a follow-up email to a journalist that keeps communication open without causing conflict.
From now on you never have to stress about sending follow-up emails that make journalists roll their eyes when your name pops up in their inbox.
Subscribe to our “COFFEE WITH A JOURNALIST“ Podcast and hear first-hand insights from professional journalists. One of our recent episodes focus on BUSINESS INSIDER’S CHIEF TECH CORRESPONDENT, Eugene Kim. He explains his techniques, as well as why it’s essential for pitches to be concise.
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