Determination and persistence is a core PR skill

Determination and persistence is a core PR skill

* By Adam James, founder of Springup PR

“Follow up to the death” – that’s often what I instruct colleagues when they’re pitching a story on behalf of a client to a target journalist.

What this means is: “Keep on contacting the target journalist until s/he says accepts or declines your pitch.”

A high-risk tactic? Maybe so considering journalists at best sigh with resignation or at worst abhor with passion when PR pros badger them with “non-stories”?

But, if a ‘pitch’ is truly solid, tight, forensically focused and conveys a genuine ‘story’ then you must “follow up to the death”

Here’s one real example of “following up to the death”.

I was pitching the CEO of a client to become a Huffington Post blogger (an increasingly prestigious and reputation-building platform)

All in all, it took 6 emails and one phone call until I received a response from the target Huffington Post editor.

The exact exchange is as follows…

Adam James, founder of Springup PR

Adam James, founder of Springup PR

* June 7, 2016:

My first email pitch to target Huffington Post editor (incidentally, this editor was not a regular ‘contact’ or ours, and we did not have his mobile phone number)

“Hi xxxxx, would you be interested in a blog post from xxxxx…… ” [full pitch in email]

Zilch response. (Definitely not unusual not to hear back after just one pitch)

* Three days later I followed up:

“Hi xxx – I hope you don’t mind me following this up. Might it be a blog piece you’d be interested in?….”

Zilch response

* June 15:

“Hi xxxx – sorry for following up this again. If it does not interest you, would you be able to let me know? Thanks so much….”

Zilch response

* Two days later:

“Hi xxx – I know I’m persistent (it’s in my nature) – but would you please be able to let me know either way if this blog interests you?”

Zilch (spot the pattern here)

* One day later:

I phoned the Huffington Post and was told the editor “did not take phone calls”, and that I should email him. (An increasingly common predicament with some media)

* 6 days later:

“Hi xxxx – so sorry if I’m being over persistent. But it would be great if you could let me know either way?! All best, Adam

* June 29:

“Hi xxxxx – just following up again. Hope you don’t mind! Thanks….”

Bingo! Hallelujah! Reach for the skies!

We had a positive response

“Thanks for getting in contact,” said editor emailed me.

“We would be interested in considering a blog post from ……”

So, yes, we’d got the commission – the hardest part in any media pitch. And it had taken 6 emails and one phone call to get there.

So a few days later we’d crafted the blog, and the Huffington Post published a few days later

This is what I mean by “following up to the death”.

Do it right, be courteous, and sprinkle with light humour, and you’ll be on a winner.

But, please, only ever do this if your pitch is spot on.

If not, you’ll just infuriate your target editor and you’ll have etched a place forever on his/her hate-list.

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