I recently came across this Fast Company article that I think can also apply to emails you send reporters: “Four Email Subject Lines That Make Everyone Hate You.” Here are some of the lines that the article calls out as ones to avoid:
- You write: “In case my email went to spam . . . “
- THEY READ: “Why haven’t you written me back yet?”
- You write: “Just checking you didn’t forget . . . “
- THEY READ: “Temporary amnesia is the only legitimate reason for making me wait.”
- You write: ” . . . Because my email wasn’t working”
- THEY READ: “Pretty sure your email must be broken.”
- You write: “I know you’ve been really busy . . . “
- THEY READ: “Prioritize me!”
One of my favorite parts about the article is when it says, “It’s hard to just sit there. Everything you’re taught about being a successful professional (“Be proactive!” “Be diligent!” “Be helpful!”) goes against doing nothing.” I can definitely identify with this because it’s genuinely hard to feel like you are being productive when you are doing ‘nothing.’
The article goes on to discuss what you SHOULD do when following up: “The surprisingly simple solution is to tell the truth. If you’re waiting on a reply because you’re entertaining other job offers or need to hear back before you submit a final version of something—say so.”
If I translate all of that to media follow-up strategy, my takeaways are:
- Be patient: Give the reporter you’re reaching out to time, particularly if you know they are on deadline.
- Don’t be Annoying: Give a few days in between follow-up (i.e., don’t send them an email every day for four days straight).
- Be Honest: If you want to move on to another person (whether it is at their publication or at another one), ask them for a response so you can move on with outreach (they get it!).
All of that said, pitching is a unique art-form. I believe that there are some best practices to consider – like the ones above – but there are no hard and fast rules when it comes to pitching. You have to find what fits with your personal style and what works best for you!