So you’ve sent the perfect pitch. Now, you hope it gets the attention of a journalist and leads to a published story. But, you’ll probably have to do some work following up to realize that goal.
If you get an email back right away, that’s great. But it’s more likely that you’ll sit in suspense waiting for a response. Even if the journalist is excited about your pitch, they may be too busy to reply right away.
Sending a simple follow-up email can vastly improve the chance that you’ll get a response. But you should take just as much care with your follow-up email (or emails) as the pitch email. A sloppy email sent at the wrong time will have the opposite effect and can give the journalist a reason to write you off.
So, let’s cover how to write a simple pitch follow-up email that’s effective.
How do you follow up on an article pitch?
First of all, should you follow up by email, phone call, Twitter, or Facebook?
Most journalists prefer to receive pitches through email, so it’s a good idea to follow up after the first email in the same way, as well. It’s important to build a relationship before sending a pitch, and you can do that through social media channels. But you shouldn’t send an article pitch through social media, you should send it directly to their email address.
Following up is simply reminding the journalist about what you sent and why you think their readers would appreciate it. You can follow up with as little as one line of text. Make sure to keep it simple and straightforward, and make it easy for them to respond and get the ball rolling.
Here are a few different techniques you can try for following up on email pitches:
- Add more value: Give the journalist more information, access to a recent interview, a new testimonial, etc.
- Create an infographic: If you’re pitching a study, see if you can create an infographic of a few key findings and use that as a follow-up. This can also help the journalist to get the gist of your study in a few seconds.
- Reference a recent article: Tying in one of the journalist’s recent blogs is a great way to make your follow-up pitch emails more personal.
- One-liner: Don’t take any more of their time than you have to. Busy journalists can appreciate an email they can read in five seconds.
And here are a few things to make sure to avoid:
- Using a boring subject line like RE: Product Launch/Press Release
- Writing a follow-up email that’s longer than your pitch email
- Say “just checking in.” (That’s not a compelling reason to reply)
Have they read your email pitch?
It makes sense that you’d want to know when the journalist reads your pitch. You can do this by using a simple email tracker. Using an email tracker can save you hours of nervous waiting. It can also help you avoid sending unnecessary follow-ups that could come off as annoying to journalists.
With Mailtrack for Gmail, you can see when the recipient opens your email and clicks on your links. You can also get a notification when your email has been opened multiple times in a short period, which can signify a good time to send a follow-up.
The reality is that journalists get many emails each day and only look at the ones that are the most compelling. So why would a journalist decide to pass on your email pitch and move on? There are a few possibilities:
- Your story or angle isn’t compelling
- You didn’t research the journalist’s area of expertise
- You didn’t build a relationship with the journalist before sending PR pitches
- Your subject lines put people to sleep
- You sent a mass press release out to multiple journalists (they can smell those a mile away)
How long should you wait to follow up?
You should wait between two and four days to send a follow-up email. Definitely don’t send one in the first 24 hours, that just comes off as needy. If your story truly benefits the journalist’s audience, you can relax and give them a few days to get back to you.
How important is this journalist or publication?
Another thing to keep in mind is the importance of the journalist you’re emailing. If you’re pitching one exclusive story to multiple journalists, you should have an ideal choice on who you think should publish the piece. You can send a follow-up to that person a day or two before sending follow-ups to the other journalists you’re trying to reach.
Set your cadence
Your follow-up schedule can look different depending on the publication you’re trying to get your story in. Some publications move fast, and you’d want to find that out when you initially build a relationship with the journalist. Others take more time to plan things, so you can space out your follow-ups a bit more for those publications.
Two follow-ups should be the limit. If the journalist hasn’t responded after three emails in total, they probably aren’t interested. And that’s OK. You can come back with a different story or report another time. But if you keep sending follow-up messages, they might blacklist you and there won’t be a next time.
The goal in PR should be to nurture long-term relationships which are mutually beneficial. Not just get one press release or media pitch out there as fast as possible to whoever will accept it.
Now, let’s look at a couple of email templates to follow up on media pitches.
PR pitch follow-up email example 1: Enhanced value proposition
Hi [first name], I know you're super busy and there's a chance my last email got buried. Regarding the case study I sent over, we have a new exclusive interview to go along with that. Some interesting things discussed: • [interesting point 1] • [interesting point 2] • [interesting point 3] Let me know if you'd like to feature it. I'll link the case study again here. [Signature]
This email builds on the first media pitch you sent and includes more value for the journalist. In this example, we’ve used a case study and interview approach but this can work with any number of content types. Instead of sending over the whole piece of content, just include a few key highlights with bullets. Signing off with “let me know if you’d like to feature it” keeps things light but also moving forward.
This is a good template to use if you saw they opened your first email but haven’t replied. The added value might be what they need to decide to move forward with the pitch.
Lastly, when you’re following up on a media pitch, change the email subject line slightly from your first email. It can be as simple as using the words “Follow up on pitch” instead of “Pitch” at the start of the subject line.
PR pitch follow-up email example 2: Connect to a recent blog post
Hi [first name], Your piece called [article title] this week in [publication] got me thinking, [share what you took away from their work]. Have you had the chance to look at the pitch I sent over a couple of days ago? I think the story could resonate with your audience [explain how]. I'd be happy to get you the details. Thanks, [Signature]
This follow-up email shows that you are interested in the content the journalist publishes. Since you’ve done your PR research and have aligned your pitch with their main focus area, you can tie relevant content back into your pitch. It also gives you the chance to reiterate how their readers could connect with your story.
With the right follow-up PR emails sent at the right time, you can see more responses and ultimately place more articles on publications.