I pitched a journalist but didn’t hear back. Now what?

Pitching stories to a journalist and never hearing a single peep can be insanely frustrating, but what should you do? You should follow up. But there’s a specific way to do this—the best way to follow up with a journalist is by not driving them crazy. For example, “nudging” something to the top of their inbox will guarantee they ignore you.

Assume you researched their topic area, when you email an idea to a journalist it can be frustrating not hearing back. Did they get the pitch at all? Did it go to spam? Was it a bad fit? Why was it a bad fit? Did they just misunderstand something? At times, it feels like throwing emails into the communication abyss. Following up appropriately, while certainly not a guarantee you’ll hear back, does improve your chances at a reply.

The best way to follow up with a journalist.

Following up after a few days is completely appropriate. But it’s never appropriate to “nudge” write “hey, just following up” or “bumping this to the top of your inbox.” They absolutely hate that for good reason. Many “PR professionals” constantly spam them with irrelevant and off-topic pitches. So, if you do the same thing, you’ll be guilty by association right at the get-go.

The best way to follow up with a journalist is by including new, high-value information. Keep in mind, some journalists get quite a few pitches! When I was writing for The Washington Post, there were times I got 200 pitches in a day! It’s common for a journalist to forget about your pitch, get distracted, or miss your first pitch entirely.

You can add value by including details that didn’t fit in the original pitch. Or providing new information as it becomes available. Perhaps the journalist just wrote a new piece that you can provide more perspective on. The bottom line is this: following up is an opportunity to add valuable detail. Not a nudge.

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Hi, I’m Justin Brady. I amplify inventive companies (and their people) to new audiences by identifying and utilizing their customer’s trust channels. I wrote for The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post and I hosted the founders of Starbucks, Hint and Ancestry.com on my podcast.
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