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The Importance of Follow-Up in Media Relations

Written by Drew Miale


Back when I used to travel more frequently, there was an airline magazine with an ad that ran for many years with a simple slogan: “In business, you don’t get what you deserve, you get what you negotiate.”

 

If I applied that to media relations, I would say, “In PR, you don’t get interviews and stories from your pitches, you get them from your follow-ups.” When I look at the majority of my interview opportunities and story placements from the last 12 months, they came from pitches where I followed up multiple times.

 Recently, I pitched a producer at a national news outlet three times over a 5-week period – one pitch and two follow-ups. After the third email, she replied back saying, “Thanks for the follow-up...somehow your previous email was overlooked.” It turned out to be a great interview and story... and one that I would have missed if I gave up after sending only one email.

 

It goes without saying that you need to start off with a well-researched, personalized, and relevant pitch at the beginning of this process. And follow-up needs to be done the right way and with the right timing, using a customized approach (more on that in a future post).

 

Now, I know that you don’t want to be that annoying PR person who follows up too much, further flooding the already full email inbox of a reporter. But consider the following:

 

  • According to Muck Rack’s State of Journalism 2024 survey, 70% of reporters said PR professionals are important to their success.

  • According to Muck Rack’s State of PR 2023 report, the top challenge among its 1000+ respondents was “getting responses from journalists.” (53%)

  • The ratio of PR professionals to reporters is about 7:1.

  • Some reporters get anywhere from 50-300 emails per day, on average.

 

So, while we want to have quality pitches, to make sure our first email pitch even gets opened or read, it’s important to follow up strategically and bring some new information that adds value to the original pitch. There’s clearly a lot of competition and noise out there, so in addition to having quality, relevant ideas and information, to stand out, it’s important to make following up a key part of your regular media relations activities.

 

Good luck in your follow-ups, and let me know what works best for you when following up as a PR professional.

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