PR pitches: Should I follow-up with journalists?
It’s an age-old question for PR: after sending a press release or story idea to a journalist, should you follow-up with them if you haven’t heard back?
The answer is a bit complicated. While journalists don’t intentionally mean to be rude, many are under very intense time deadlines which means they simply can’t respond to most of the press releases and pitches that they receive. You don’t want to become the annoying person clogging up their inbox with questions about a story they’re not interested in.
30 per cent of surveyed journalists say one of their biggest ‘pet peeves’ is being contacted too often by PR.
Building good relationships and reputation within the media is important for the sake of you or your clients’ future stories. If a journalist knows that you will only be contacting them about important stories that you think will be relevant to their audiences then they will be far more likely to read your email or pick up your call.
Nearly 80 per cent of Australian journalists in a recent survey said they do not appreciate receiving a follow-up email or phone call about a pitch or press release, and that they would contact the PR professional themselves if interested in the story. 16 per cent said they appreciate one follow-up email or phone call. Only one per cent of journalists preferred for PR to follow-up with them repeatedly until they respond.
Basically what this means is there is definitely no need to follow-up more than once on a press release or pitch if you haven’t heard anything back from the journalist or newsroom.
On the other hand, if a journalist has expressed interest in your pitch but then you don’t hear from them, a second follow-up email or phone call could be appropriate. 96 per cent of journalists prefer to be contacted by PR over email so it’s safest to stick with that unless you have spoken to the journalist on the phone before.
So, what can you do to make sure journalists respond to your story idea?
When we speak to journalists in our weekly Spotlight interviews, they are constantly emphasising how much more valuable it is when brands, organisations and PR agencies send releases targeted to the journalists’ specific focus.
Instead of sending your release out to as many journalists as possible, it is far more effective to use a good database to work out the journalists who are already covering the topics related to your story.
International Reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age Latika Bourke told Medianet she will always try to respond to personalised pitches, whether that’s a yes or a no.
“PR professionals should never be afraid to contact a journalist and refer to a story they have written that is relevant to their client; I am most inclined to read these emails out of all the press releases I receive,” she said.
“I have developed great contacts who have approached me using this method and I really appreciate it, particularly if it's a topic I have an ongoing interest in and cover long-term.”
“I love press releases and emails that address me personally with relevant information,” said the Herald Sun’s Digital News and Food and Drinks Writer Kara Irving.
For more insights into journalists’ preferences when it comes to PR, download the free Medianet 2022 Australian Media Landscape Report.