Before I came to NRPR, I didn’t understand the concept or power of following up with a journalist after you pitch them. I was very shy and I felt like I was bothering them, or felt that if I followed up that they would get annoyed with me. While too many follow ups can pester press, I soon learned follow ups are essential to closing stories and gaining coverage for my clients.

Here are three reasons follow ups are essential to media relations:

Journalists are busy people.
Being that journalists are constantly researching stories and on deadlines, they don’t always have time to respond to your email the first time you send it. Following up gives you another chance to connect via phone or email.

Follow ups are a chance to bring new information to the table.
Especially when pre-pitching a press release under embargo, following up is a great way to update the news as it develops. Perhaps there was another person added to the press release or the date the news goes live has changed. Sending another email to or calling the journalist ensures they stay updated as the news progresses.

Although they might not respond, follow ups build relationships
Chances are if you email a journalist once, the next time you pitch them, they aren’t going to remember who you are. Emailing them again puts your name in their face so they associate you with your client. Once the journalist sees that you have an interesting story that is appropriate to their audience and coverage area, they will be more willing to open another email from you or answer the phone when they see your name on the caller ID the next time.

Follow ups are really an art and now you know why they’re important. How does one go about it?

Here are some tips to elicit a reply from the journalist:

First and foremost, when you pitch a journalist, make sure the news aligns with what they cover. There’s nothing more annoying than a PR person who doesn’t do their homework. Also verify they are still with the publication and their email address is correct. You can’t follow up on a bounced email!

Reply in the same thread. The second follow up should be quick. For example:

Hi Bob,

Happy Friday! I’m curious to know your thoughts on the note below. Happy to have your feedback!

Rockstar PR Person

In the third follow up, you should outline why the journalist should care about the news in about three to four sentences. What can you offer them? Is it a chat with the CEO of the company? An interview with a celebrity? A demo of the product? What’s in it for them?

The third and fourth follow up should tie your news again to what they are currently writing. Keep up with their articles and see if they are relevant to what you pitched. For example:

Hi Bob,

Hope you had a great weekend! I saw your recent article on mobile apps and how they make life easier for business people. XYZ App helps executives stay on task by organizing their to-do lists.

I’m happy to connect you to Mr. CEO who can explain more. Let me know your feedback either way.

Rockstar PR Person

Finally, don’t forget about social media! It’s a great way to see what the person is currently talking about. Also, a tweet saying you sent a pitch or follow up regarding the news is never a bad idea. (Unless they state otherwise on their social media feed – which happens. Be sure to check first!)

Something like: Hi @journalistname! Emailed you regarding an opportunity to meet with the CEO of #clientname ane brief description. Let me know your interest!

This, in a nutshell, is the power and art of the follow up. If you follow these simple guidelines, you will find, as I discovered, that you will close more stories. Happy pitching!