I’ll let you in on a secret – I hate doing follow up calls when I trying to get publicity. Why? Most of the time, the call is a waste of time. If the journalist is interested in doing a story on you, they will call. That is why taking the time to learn how to write a good media release is so important. When you get 100s of releases a day, can you imagine how annoying it would be to be followed up by everyone?
The follow up is one of the most annoying things in the day of a journalist, editor, journalist and producer. Asking ‘did you get my media release?’ is really a banal question. In saying that, I have followed up releases only to find the journalist did not get it and I was able to start a conversation with them – leading to a story.
Follow Up or Forget It
Your media release is stacked with quality content, new information, and a fresh angle on a story. You really want to make sure your story does not get lost in the clutter of the newsroom.
There are lots of reasons why a journalist does not get back to you – they did not get the email, it got lost in all the other emails, they forgot, they missed it or they are no interested. To discount the other options – FOLLOW UP.
The mistake SO many people make when it comes to chasing publicity, is to not follow up. That does not mean a phone call, it could be a follow up email. But if you do not follow up, you might miss out on selling your story in. Think about the sales process – it now takes almost 11 contacts with your prospective client to close the deal. Why would it not be the same for your story. Of course, the journalist does not want you to call or email 11 times (if they are not interested after two or three attempts at contact, that means NO).
BUT … If you are going to follow up, do it within 24 hours otherwise, otherwise your release will get lost in the email black hole.
Get familiar with the journalist, the program, the publication or website
Where is your story aimed at? Is it a general news story, a feature, a profile and send it to the right journalist? No point sending a lifestyle story to the real estate writer.
Do the work. Look at your calendar to select times you are available for an interview, have good quality photos and stick to the deadline.
Keep the pitch short. Say what you need to in under a minute
Be prepared to offer an exclusive. If you do offer an exclusive, do not send the story elsewhere.
Before launching into your follow up, ask if it is a good time to talk
Don’t repeat what was in the release. A weak pitch is “Hi, it’s Annette from Publicity Genie, I am calling about Jo Blogg’s new training program. I have done it myself and it was really great. He talked about …”
Cut through the spin and just be real. “I sent a release about Jo Blogg’s training program yesterday. What is interesting about his program is he has found most business leaders pretend to be interested in growing their people but are really only interested in making money. The program shed light on why so many people are unhappy at work.”
A few follow up don’ts
- Waste a journalist/presenter/producer’s time
- Be a stalker
- Try bribery
- Waffle or exaggerate
- Tell the journalist what they want
- Over promise