A decade ago, expecting to hear from journalists after delivering a pitch was frustrating. Today, it’s almost impossible.
Because shrinking newspaper staffs mean reporters are covering more beats than ever.
It could also be because your pitch is boring. Or it looks like a cookie-cutter pitch that you’ve sent to every blogger who covers your niche. Or you’ve badgered a freelance writer to death.
If you’re following up pitches to bloggers or traditional journalists, here are three mistakes to avoid:
1. Expecting an answer within a day or two.
If you hear nothing but silence after pitching, never assume the journalist isn’t interested. I’ve heard of cases in which business owners and publicists pitched ideas, heard nothing, and got a call from a journalist two years later!
Here’s why: The journalist reads your email pitch and likes it, but doesn’t have time to cover the story. She moves it into her “story idea folder” and forgets about it. Months later, on a slow news day, she digs into the file, pulls out your pitch and calls you. You’d better be ready.
2. Continuing to follow up until the journalist responds.
This is the surest way to convince a journalist or blogger to blackball you. They hate being pestered. The only thing they hate more is being stalked.
3. Calling or emailing and saying, “I’m Mary Jones and I’m just following up to see if you got the story idea I sent you a few days ago.”
“Who’s Mary Jones? What story idea? Why are you bothering me?”
If you pitched, never assume the journalist received it. If you suspect your email pitch ended up in a spam folder, you’ll have to try another method of contact.
There’s no one perfect formula for following up. But there’s a long list of things you should never do, and another list of little tricks and workarounds that, if used correctly, could get you the story you want.
Update: I explained them all during a webinar on June 13, and you can access the video replay and all the materials on how to follow up a pitch to journalists here.
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