I still remember when I turned 16 and it was time to get a job. I was more than happy to turn in a few applications and sit back and wait for the job to fall in my lap. However, my parents were prompt to let me know how much of a n00b I was and informed me that I needed to get off my ass and start making follow up calls.A Few Important Things You Need to Know About Following Up with Reporters
“But MOOOOM,” I complained. “I’m going to get on their nerves.”
Was I right? Maybe. But so were my parents. Because while all my friends were sitting around trying to figure out why they hadn’t been hired, I got the job I wanted in the mall down the street from us. And working at the mall meant meeting girls. Or at least seeing them, if nothing else.
But what about now, when it’s time to send out pitches to reporters? Are we supposed to drive them crazy with follow ups, forcing them into submission to take our story? Or should we sit back and let them come to us? Hm…not such easy an answer…
Follow Up, But You Need to Get Your Technique Down
Following up isn’t a bad thing. Yes, there are some reporters who hate it. But as a general rule, you need to follow up at some point. It’s pretty standard. After all, reporters:
- Are busy as hell
- Forget things during their every day rush
- Get millions of pitches
- Want people to make their life easier
However, they don’t want to deal with someone who is a pain in a butt. So the key is to follow up without being annoying. You can achieve that by:
- Not following up the next day. Chances are, they haven’t even read your pitch yet. Give it a couple of days before you follow up so that they will know what in the world you are talking about.
- Not being a pest. Follow up once. Not thirty times. And don’t appear whiney or entitled when following up. No one owes you anything. Reporters are busy and have power. Respect that.
- Keeping it brief. Don’t follow up with a novel. Keep it straight to the point. Ask if they thought your pitch would work. Also give them a few essential facts about your story and/or business.
If they don’t respond to your follow up, don’t feel the need to keep sending messages. They’re either too busy for you or don’t want to talk to you. Either way, if you keep contacting them you’ll end up looking like Jon Favreau’s character in Swingers when he keeps leaving messages on his ex’s answering machine. Remember how sad and pitiful that was? Ugh.
Above All, Build Relationships
The best way to get your pitch noticed? Build a relationship with the reporter. Introduce yourself at a conference. Become Twitter friends. Do something nice to help them out. You need them on your side.
How do you follow up on your pitches?
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