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Three Things to Keep in Mind When Following Up to a Pitch

Public Relations

Like any “good” PR pro, you have sat with your team and rolled around multiple variations of pitches on behalf of your clients.    You spend time monitoring headlines, reading up on specific “hot” material, and groom your list of specified journalists, bloggers, producers and authors who might find your story angle interesting.

Then, after hours of preparation, you take the plunge and you reach out to your targeted source. As you hit the “send” button on your tweet deck or email, you begin to imagine what next steps you will take to make this story come to print. And then you sit back—–and wait. You wait for an email acknowledging your thoughtful pitch, you wait for a “yes” to the interview request, and sometimes, you wait just for the source to tell you NO.

When a large amount of time is spent grooming a list, nurturing contacts, and creating the next best story idea, it’s hard to understand why the least time-consuming part (the follow up) is the most difficult.  The “close” of the pitch is what makes stories published and TV spots booked—when content publishers need to say yes to you, you can get them to do so.  Here are 3 tips to help you with that effort:

  1. Make sure your pitch is newsworthy: Let’s not forget that members of the media are plugged in and tapped into everything “buzz-worthy.”  When thinking of a story on behalf of a client, ensure that the story is pulling in relevance from the news somehow.  Even if the client’s product is a mint-scented deodorant, you are the person who is responsible for making it important and sexy.
  2. Follow-up within 24 hours with a phone call:  Statistics show that reporters only skim about 30% of emails in their inbox.  Largely because they are bombarded all day with email interview requests, press releases, and follow-ups.  When calling to follow up to your email, make sure you have the subject line of your email  handy so that you can refer back to the pitch you sent. Don’t forget to ask your prospect if he/she has a few minutes to talk, otherwise you will come across desperate and pushy. Make things easy for your contact, they’ll appreciate it.
  3. Don’t be Afraid to Explain the Value of Your Client’s Time:  As public relations professionals we are inclined to go above the call of duty to get our clients’ stories placed in the media. However, because we have already identified that the story is newsworthy, don’t be afraid to stress the time-sensitive nature of the story. Putting slight pressure on the publisher will let he or she know that without quick action, the story will dissolve.

As a public relations specialist, it’s hard not to feel like part of your job is to sell.  After all, the story ideas and client interviews are the “products” that you’re selling to an audience of influencers, but what makes us stand apart is the ability to manage the relationship between the client and the press.  If you can play your cards  right when following up with the pitch and building a relationship, the media member will be more inclined to give you that golden ‘yes’.

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