The Delicate Balance of Media Follow up

11.19.2012 | Holly Zuluaga

Securing media coverage is always a challenge. We’ve provided numerous tips on how to pitch a newsworthy story, but once you garner initial interest, what do you do? How do you move a story from just interest to print?

First, congratulations. You’ve won the first battle. You’ve successfully broken through the thousands of emails that most journalists and editors are sifting through on a daily basis.

The next step is tricky, as you don’t want to damage any relationships, but at the same time, you want to make sure that the story sees the light of day. Following up with a reporter or publication that has already expressed interest is important, but you don’t want to be a nuisance.

In my experience, I like to act as the mediator between the publication and my client. I start to build a relationship with the journalist or editor and try to gather as much information as possible. What is the proposed timing? What is the focus of the story? What elements do they need? My goal is to ensure the reporter has what they need to develop a well-rounded story and I check-in to ensure it stays top of mind. However, be patient. You have to understand the challenges that journalists face — they are often moved onto different stories because of breaking news, so timelines often shift.

Recently, I had the opportunity to partner with two different clients on two different stories, but used the same follow-up method. We teamed up with The Omni Group to pitch a proactive story offering journalists with a behind-the-scenes look at how the Omni Group builds apps. We secured interest from reporter Mike Vardy and helped coordinate interviews and images. I already have a relationship with Mike, but made sure that I followed up regularly to get an update on where he was in his process and what additional information that I could provide. The result was an excellent feature story that illustrated how the Omni Group approaches building apps and what it takes to succeed.

I also had the opportunity to work with our client Sprig Health to pitch media in Bellevue about its availability and the immediate access to healthcare it provides. We received initial interest from the editor at the Bellevue Reporter several weeks ago, but it took time for the story to come to fruition. Once the editor expressed interest, I called initially to make contact and to try and establish a schedule for subsequent check-in calls. After each subsequent call, I would check in to see where he was in his process and confirm a time that I could call back thereafter. This ensured that he and I were on the same page and I wouldn’t be bothering him if I called again. Once the editor assigned a reporter, I made sure to follow up with her every few days to ensure she didn’t have any lingering questions. The result was a well-written story that helped us accomplish our goals and that provided valuable information to the people of Bellevue about the new service.

Every reporter has his or her own style and may be more responsive to email versus phone calls. The key is to understand what they are up against and make it as easy as possible for them to do the job. With this consideration in mind, you’ll likely make valuable friends for life.


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