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
* 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?….”
* 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….”
* 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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