You sent a PR pitch to the media. Hurray! When promoting your book, publicity is one of the cheapest, easiest, and most effective ways to get your message in front of new people.
But what happens when you don’t hear back from your media contact right away? That doesn’t necessarily mean they don’t care. Even the best PR pitches fall through the cracks.
Here’s the thing: Your contact in the media hears from lots of people who also want in front of that audience. Depending on the size of that media outlet, your contact might be getting dozens, hundreds, maybe even thousands of emails a day!
Following up your PR pitch in an appropriate way can make all the difference. But there’s a fine line between being persistent and being a pest. In this column, I’m going to share some important tips to remember when you reach out again.
Before we get down to it, a couple of points…
Did You Send A Good PR Pitch?
For the purposes of this column, let’s assume you did everything right:
- You’re pursuing the right media outlet
- You’re talking to the right person
- You’re offering a compelling angle
I’m also hoping your PR pitch included all the salient details and didn’t overload them with fluff or unnecessary crap…
- You got to the point
- You included enough for them to make an informed decision
- You included a call to action and contact information
- You got out of the way before you overstayed your welcome
[ADDITIONAL RESOURCES: Need help crafting your PR pitch? Register for my free masterclass, 3 Steps For Any Author To Get Into The Media (Without Spending A Dollar On Advertising).]
They’re Not Vending Machines
Whomever you contact, don’t act like it’s your choice to make this happen. These are working professionals. Don’t treat them like you put in your token and now you expect your prize.
You want them on your side. More to the point, you don’t want to alienate them.
In all your communications with the media…
- Be polite
- Be patient
- Be professional
- Be prepared
So, what are the best practices to make it more likely they’ll put you (and your book) in front of that audience? Below are seven tips to be persistent without being a pest…
#1 - Follow-up in 3 or 4 Business Days
How quickly should you send a follow-up message? You don’t want to look desperate.
The best pocket of time is three or four business days after sending that original email. Call too soon, and you risk catching them before they read the original email. Wait too long, and there might not be enough time to cover your story.
#2 - One Phone Call, One Email—Max
Avoid being that crazy person who fills up their inbox or voicemail. The rule of thumb is that you’re allowed one phone call and one email follow-up.
When making a call, don’t wing it. Have some notes (or even a brief script) in front of you.
Leaving a voicemail? Get to the point. Mention the original email, introduce your angle, and hit all your main points in about 30 seconds. Can you add new information or details that weren’t in your original pitch? All the better. Remember to leave a number and tell them to watch for your following email.
If they do pick up, be conversational but still concise. Be prepared to answer questions about your pitch or your topic.
#3 - Include All Key Information with Your Email
At no stage in this process should you offer fragments of your pitch and expect them to hunt down the original pitch to solve a puzzle. (An invitation to a scavenger hunt? Pass.)
Every message should include all the key details from the original pitch. Hit the bullet points and, in emails, include relevant links.
#4 - Make It a New Message Each Time
Don’t call or email a simple repeat of the same information. Give the email a new subject line and add one or two more details to your pitch.
It won’t hurt to add one or two sentences to make your original pitch more compelling. Can you add some social proof, like a testimonial or a quote from a review? Can you add any extra data or research?
#5 - Respect Their Time
Media professionals are overworked, understaffed, and besieged by all kinds of people who want access to their audience. It’s important to be mindful of that person’s time in three ways…
Consider their workday. Most working members of the media only have seconds at a time to pay attention to your PR pitch. Make those seconds count. Any communications with them should be clear, informative, and succinct. (No tangents or chit-chat!)
Consider their editorial calendar. If you’re pitching something time-sensitive, don’t wait until the last minute. Many media outlets map out their content weeks or months ahead of time. Of course, evergreen topics (which continue to be relevant any time) give you a lot more room to maneuver.
Consider their production schedule. Every media product takes a practical amount of time to create. The production process for a given episode or issue might include a dozen steps or more—including editing, proofing, design, post-production, printing, distribution, etc. Once that product has moved to one of the later stages, it’s almost impossible to make changes to the editorial lineup.
If you’re hoping for coverage during a particular time frame, pitch that outlet at least 90 days before you hope they run with it. If you’re too early, they can always tell you when to come back. But if you’re too late, even the best idea in the world is useless if that episode or issue is already out the door.
#6 - Pay Attention to Feedback
You might get a yes or no. You may even receive a request to revisit the subject later. Sometimes, however, you’ll get important clues—or outright advice—to make adjustments to your approach.
When a media professional takes the time to give you something more than a simple yes or no, that’s golden. Don’t waste the opportunity to learn from an insider how to make this pitch still connect, or to do a better job with your next pitch.
#7 - When in Doubt, Come Back with a New Angle
There are all kinds of reasons you might not get a yes. It might be the timing. Or maybe your pitch fell through the cracks. It may also be that they didn’t connect with your initial idea.
Whatever the reason, don’t be a pest. It never helps to nag them with the same unsuccessful pitch over and over.
There’s no reason you can’t return with a fresh angle every couple of months. Your author platform or the book you’re promoting is no doubt a springboard for several (possibly dozens!) of intriguing discussion topics that all point back to your book or to your position as an expert in your field.
When you come back with a brand-new excuse to talk about your specialty, you’re not nagging them. You’re kicking off a brand-new conversation.
For media pros who were already interested: If you fell through the cracks, they’ll welcome the reminder. They might even be glad to hear from you.
For media pros who didn’t care for your previous idea: They might like this new angle better. And since you weren’t a pest, they don’t have an aversion to working with you.
Best of all? This new angle might just be what gets you in front of that audience.
What Are You Going to Do Now?
Have you submitted a PR pitch as part of your book promotion? If so, which of these tips were most helpful to you? If you haven’t reached out to the media yet, what’s standing in your way? Share in the comments below!
Want a simple framework to create your pitch to the media? I invite you to watch my free masterclass, 3 Steps For Any Author To Get Into The Media (Without Spending A Dollar On Advertising). During this one-hour training, you’ll learn how to get media decision-makers interested in your book, how real authors have scored media coverage, and the secret that will turn the media’s “no” to a “yes.” Click here to get started!
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