Suppose you send an important news release to a media list and get no response.
Do you just chalk it up to bad luck or should you follow up to increase the chances of the media picking up your news?
My answer, based on my experience as a journalist and a public relations consultant, is that it's probably not a good rule to follow up if you sent your release to a large list or if you used a wire service to distribute it.
Generally, it's safe to assume that the journalists in question have gotten your release, read it and will contact you if they're interested. Try not to add to the volume of inquiries they receive without good reason.
If you're not contacted after sending a news release, it means the media outlets on your list aren't running a story based on the information you sent or they didn't find it newsworthy.
Remember that journalists receive a large number of releases and rightfully get annoyed by those who pester them. Trust their judgment and respect their requirements for what constitutes news.
That being said, some special circumstances exist in which a follow-up might make sense. If you know the journalist well or if you're pretty sure your story is an important and time-sensitive one that fits the editorial calendar of the specific publication, a properly formulated follow-up is appropriate.
Here are a few effective tips:
First, don't ever make more than one follow-up inquiry, no matter how important you might think your news.
Always include the original news release in your follow-up if it is by e-mail or fax. Attach a note to make it clear you are following up.
Respect the journalist's time. Make your follow-up note brief and to the point. I usually write something like:
Dear Mr. (or Ms.) X,
This is a follow-up to the news release (copy enclosed) I sent to you on (date). I don't wish to be a pest, but in case it didn't reach you, I'm resending it for your consideration. Thanks.
(Your name and e-mail address)
Don't ask for a response to your follow-up. Including proper contact information in the release is all that's needed.
The phone is often a good instrument for follow-up. Don't hesitate to leave a detailed but short message. Since you're not resending the release in a phone call, don't forget contact information.
If your follow-up contains new news or even a fresh spin on the old news, its chances of being picked up are enhanced. If you include a follow-up with some additional information, make sure to note it and to include the original news release as well.
Don't send news to more than one journalist in the same medium without letting each journalist know.
If you use these simple tips and don't abuse the process by sending too many follow-ups, you can increase the likelihood that your news will be picked up.