The power of the follow-up

Hi [NAME],
Just checking to see if you've had a chance to read this?
Please do let me know in any case. Thank you.

Best wishes,

A follow-up is as simple as that. But, hold on, the power that’s in those five lines cannot be understated. Power is bestowed onto a follow-up through various means, such as: it’s short and sweet, it pushes you to the top of a journalist’s inbox, it’s not intrusive and you are 40 percent more likely to get a response. It takes moments to get it done but can bear the most fruitful ends. A wise person once said “paralyse resistance with persistence” and we couldn’t agree more, as in PR it’s essential to remain tenacious and consistent.

Although we’ve stressed the positive qualities of the follow-up, if overdone, it’s easy to slip into their negative side. Treat a follow-up like you are frying a steak, with the desire to cook it to medium-rare. It needs careful cultivation, heat at the right moment and removing from the flame so as not to ruin the meat once the correct tenderness has been achieved. You cannot reverse the clock once you’ve overcooked your steak. So, you need to be on your toes and aware of all elements at work, just like in a follow-up email. If you bury a journalist’s inbox with follow-up emails, this is overdoing it, and within moments you’ll be labelled as an irritating spammer, which is a reputation that’s close to impossible to shake.

Personalisation in a follow-up can go a long way. Even if just a few words about a recent article that journalist has written, or an acknowledgement of a conversation that they have started on Twitter - sprinkling the correct niceties on the correct follow-ups could favour you.

If your deadline is pressing, follow-up over the phone. But make sure the call is short and you are not taking much time from the journalist. Do not bombard an inbox - you just seem pushy, desperate and rude.

People, and journalists especially, are BUSY, so do not be disheartened if you never get a response. Experiment with the follow-up, note what works and what doesn’t. It’s an ever-evolving and gradual process.

Regarding time specifics of when you should be following-up, it really depends on your sector and who you are attempting to contact. But, we’d not worry about the timing, and the morning is definitely on the cards. Just don’t be following up at 2 AM. That’s a bit odd. As we noted before, the whole persistent follow-up process is trial and error, so do not be afraid to fire follow-ups out and just wait to see what happens.

Overall, when working in PR, we recommend the 3 P’s. You should be:

  • Positive

  • Polite

  • Persistent