When first trying to make contact with a journalist/editor or media outlet, a startup needs to send out a media pitch with newsworthy and relevant information to get picked up by the media. Once that step has been completed, there needs to be an effective follow-up process for companies to ensure that their pitch has been read or acknowledged.
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In most cases, companies have already sent out a media pitch but they have not received a response or are waiting to hear back. Having a follow-up plan directly after the first email is crucial for any company’s overall strategy.
In this article, we will look at
1) Creating the PR follow-up email
2) How to do the follow-up
3) Examples of follow-up emails for media pitches
Creating the PR follow-up email
Since journalists and media outlets receive hundreds of emails daily, they need to filter through them quite quickly to decide whether they want to pick up a story. That could result in an email being overlooked due to pure numbers, or the journalist deciding that it may not be the right fit for them. However, to find the real answer to why their pitch did not get the attention that might be rightfully deserved, companies need to understand through the follow-up process what their next step should be to get media attention.
There is no standard set of rules when it comes to creating a follow-up email. But, certain practices can significantly increase the success in getting a higher open rate and response rate.
1) Email Subject Line
The subject line of any email is the reader’s first impression, and it should be taken very seriously. A company may have sent a well-written, informative pitch, but the rise could be overlooked if the subject line does not draw attention.
Ideally, it should clearly and concisely capture the message in six to 10 words and should move away from being too gimmicky, too misleading, or too humorous without proper messaging. It should create curiosity and help in developing a relationship with media connections. Subject lines that contain all caps, excessive punctuation, and vague content are ones that go straight to the spam folder rather than the reporter.
2) Open up the email with simplicity
The tone of an email also plays a significant role when it comes to open rates. While the assumption is to maintain a professional manner in an email, it is not always the case. A sufficient email should ride the fine line between being over-friendly or intimate language and being too professional.
Research helps companies know whom they are speaking to, how they would like to be addressed, and what content they are looking for. Understanding the journalist’s language and the title should already be presented in the initial email. But, if it is not, companies can always go back to the drawing board to update the parts that did not seem to work for them at the beginning.
3) Be direct
As mentioned previously, journalists and editors skim through their inboxes to find topics to write about. This means that companies need to make sure that their subject is worth reading and writing about to get and retain their attention. The message needs to be stated and transparent on the type of content that the company is offering.
Using the Inverted Pyramid technique is perfect because it presents all the necessary information at the beginning of the email. Regardless of whether a company is attempting to provide original research, deliver an interview with an executive, or want to share news about a new product, they need to be concise and make sure that the journalist or media outlet has all the necessary information to write a story about the company.
4) Connect the story
The follow-up email should be somewhat related to the initial email pitch. However, rather than just resending the pitch, it should offer some new information to help the journalist or media outlet write their story. Also, a pitch should be personalized to the writer, publication, or audience.
Something that companies need to remember is that while their purpose of sending out an email pitch is to get media attention, it is also meant to start developing relationships with journalists or media outlets so that they can continue their media efforts in the future and establish themselves as thought-leaders in the industry. A company does not need to go into the relationship knowing everything that needs to be known about the media professional. Still, it does not hurt to demonstrate that they are familiar with their previous work.
5) Show Authenticity
Much like any other relationship, a company’s connection with media outlets should be authentic and truthful. A story pitched should be mutually beneficial to both parties and not be purely promotional for the company. As the article has mentioned multiple times already, there needs to be transparency in the message the company is trying to send out. If not, it could damage their reputation.
Journalists are not just expert writers; they all got to that point because they could also research their content first. Suppose a company withholds important information that media professionals should know. In that case, they will find out and could either decide to pull the plug on their story or choose to put a negative spin on the content provided.
6) Include pitch points
When it comes to providing information about a story, a company should not just think of themselves but also make a journalist’s job as easy as possible. Compiling all the information in a neat little package that provides everything from engaging photos and infographics that can be shared on earned media or owned media to a fact sheet with all relevant facts, features, and background information is the best way to do that.
All relevant information can be included as an attachment to the follow-up email, but it is imperative to state that attachments are included. There needs to be a clear indication because some journalists may be paranoid about opening external links if it is not safe. Other information should be clicked on, and it shows the recipient that any attachments are secure to open. It also calls attention to extra documentation so that they aren’t overlooked. If the attachments are not opened, companies can also upload the documents to a press page on their website and include a direct link to their email message. That way, companies can have a level of trust between them and the journalists.
7) End the email professionally
The best way to end any email pitch or follow-up email is with a clear call to action that tells a writer what the company wants and why they should pick up the story. However, companies need to avoid using language that shows they are desperate for media attention. They need to present a front showing that the information they have provided will be worthwhile to the journalists while maintaining a professional relationship.
For a follow-up email to be successful, companies need to directly state that they have an interview opportunity, follow up story, or news about the company and that the interviewees are happy to provide as much detail as necessary if they are interested in picking up the story.
How to do the follow-up
Once a company has created their follow-up email, they need to know when and how to send it out. Generally, a second follows up email should be the last one for that specific story. If there is no interest, a company should either move on to another journalist or topic or revert and develop more creative content to entice the media professional.
Sometimes, however, lack of results from their PR efforts may dishearten companies. That does not mean that they will never get media coverage. It just means that they need to refresh their content or hire PR professionals who will help them create all the necessary content required to achieve media coverage.
PR agencies like Pressfarm work with companies to make everything, including background, brand brief, images/videos, and everything else that is newsworthy. Through their PR packages, they also provide access to their PR database of over 75,000 journalists that companies can use to find their ideal media match for their startup and target audience. Pressfarm’s PR professionals will also help companies increase their release visibility in relevant search results across major search engines.
Let us now look at how to go about the follow-up process.
1) Understanding timing
A company may have the best pitch, but if it is not sent at the right time, all the time and effort that has gone into creating a pitch could have been a waste of time.
There should be a reasonable amount of time passed before sending out a follow-up email. By waiting some time, it gives recipients enough time to read through and respond to the initial pitch, even if the response is not one that the company wants.
Media relations professionals have said that ideally, a follow up should be sent out 24 hours after the company wants to do the initial follow up. Another reason why waiting is necessary is that it takes away the air of desperation from the company. It provides a right balance between rushing things to achieve unreasonable expectations and waiting too long to be forgotten.
2) No bombarding of emails
As stated at the beginning of this section, two follow-ups are the ideal number of emails to send after the original PR pitch email. The reasoning for that can affect both the company and media outlet.
Firstly, sending emails to the same journalist or media outlet after not getting any attention previously will waste a company’s time and resources because sending the same or similar email will not assure companies that they will get anywhere. They should focus their time and attention on other opportunities instead of pushing the same story to the same journalists and media outlets.
Secondly, no one enjoys getting constant emails after they have decided to forego a story. Filling an inbox with multiple messages could negatively affect the company and may look unprofessional in media professionals’ eyes.
Finally, as the magic number is three emails, the initial and two follow-ups, companies need to remember to clarify that they will no longer be writing about the topic in their final email. However, the window is still there if journalists decide to pick up the story. They should leave their contact information, any relevant links or materials, and a cordial, professional message expressing regret that they could not connect at that time. As with any relationship, it takes time to develop, and the company may need that specific journalist or media outlet another time. By maintaining a connection, companies will have a better chance of connecting with them in the future.
Having a follow-up plan is very important because it determines whether a company will achieve media coverage. The critical thing to remember is that there are many factors why pitches do not get read, and companies should not get discouraged if their media outreach did not succeed the first time around. All it means is that they need to come up with more creative ways and adjust their approach. They can either do it themselves or hire PR professionals so that they can effectively achieve media coverage.