In the first part of our DIY guide to public relations, we looked at the basics of putting together a press release and pitching to the media. In part two, we cover the final step in the process – following up and selling your story in.
You’ve emailed but didn’t hear back – now what?
You’ve crafted your story and sent off your emails to a carefully chosen group of journalists. Despite high expectations, you didn’t get as many responses as expected. But don’t be disheartened – this can be a common occurence in PR, particularly if it is your first time pitching. Public relations is ultimately about building long term relationships. Journalists will often prioritise pitches from existing contacts over those from publicists they don’t know. They also receive dozens, if not hundreds, of emails per day. So it’s up to you to craft an interesting enough story to grab their attention. When you do not hear back after your an initial pitch, the next step is to follow up. But there are a few important rules to keep in mind here to avoid damaging your relationships with the media.
The delicate art of the follow up
As a general rule of thumb, you can send a journalist a gentle reminder after 3-4 days to follow up on your initial pitch. However, you want to do more here than ask if they received your previous email. The trick is to offer them something more – an exclusive interview or perhaps some information about an upcoming tour. If your first angle didn’t grab their attention, try to offer them some new information or more details that could pique their interest the second time around. If it is your first time pitching, a quick call to introduce yourself might be in order. However, keep in mind that many journalists prefer to communicate on email. So use some discretion when it comes to picking up the phone.
The cardinal rule: don’t badger the media
The number one rule of public relations: don’t become a pest! Multiple follow up emails and multiple calls will only damage any chance you have of building a strong relationship with the journalist for the long term. Instead, always be respectful of their time constraints and deadlines. Keep your emails short and get to the point quickly. If you have to follow up, follow up once or twice as a maximum and then leave it be. Sometimes you have to admit defeat: as important as the story is to you, it might not be as compelling to the journalist or their readers.
Craft a good story and the rest will come
The ultimate tip for nailing your own PR is to focus on crafting a good story. So take a step back and try to think objectively: what is it about my story that would grab the attention of the media, and the public more generally? If you have a solid news hook or a strong personal story to tell, the rest will fall into place. Happy pitching!