The road to publicity is paved in a long trail of silence and invisible responses. With what feels like instant access to the people and sources we need to take our vision to the next level, we can easily feel ignored, unacknowledged, and like a failure when that master crafted email, tweet or DM goes unanswered. I’m here to remind you that’s not the case at all.
We live in the busiest of times where technology connects the world like never before. Even with a communications space that feels overwhelming at times, there is one action that since the beginning of time, separates the winners from the losers, the billionaires from the millionaires, and the elite from the average.
The act of follow-up
Follow up is simple and can be so easily missed in our pursuit to move projects forward to meet publicity goals. Merriam Webster defines follow up...
“to pursue in an effort to take further action.''
In short, it is merely the act of not giving up too soon. Of not letting opportunity slip through your fingers whether its following up with a new connection made at an event, following up on an email outreach, or following up on a project or open task item. Follow is important because it helps us get the clarity we need to move forward toward our goals.
It is important for all of us to put fear and pride to the side when dealing in business. The one who doesn’t take the risk, the extra step, or extra effort, is sure to have a few missed opportunities pass them by. So what can we do to make sure that we aren’t the ones who miss out on opportunity? The answer is simple- FOLLOW UP! Just like anything else in your business, it makes a huge difference when we make follow up just as important as collecting money from sales. “The fortune is in the follow up” is an old adage that reveals the true power that follow up has. There is an endless stream of opportunities that await us in follow up.
As you’re preparing for you next PR opportunities, here are three tips to ensure sure you follow up like a pro:
Create a follow up strategy
The opportunity to create new relationships in 2019 is infinite. We can meet people online from a Twitter conversation, in person at conferences and networking events and we can even meet them through our friends who believe “you two shoud know each other” in an email or direct message.Therefore, one must actually make contact to keep that initial introduction moving forward. We must come up with a strategy to make sure we do make those follow up attempts.
One of my favorite strategies come from Phoenix Business coach Isha Cogburn. As a courtesy to those who follow her business pages on social, she creates a FollowUp Friday post, to get people in the habit of designating a day to follow up and ties up those loose ends from the week.
Whether you decide to take one day to revisit those business cards, or use a tool like Right Inbox that reminds you that you sent an email to someone who hasn’t responded, it's important to have a plan on how you can best get the task completed. Take a moment to actually plan out the best day, time, or tool that can ensure that you actually follow up.
Persistence is key. Don’t take it personal!
We’ve all heard about the story of the little engine that could. This was likely one of the first lessons we learned on persistence, the ability to keep going even through adversity and uncertainty. PR requires nonstop outreach to media professionals, as well as others who can bring the message to the world. There is no success in taking one shot and feeling defeated when the results you want do not come in a single attempt.
Public relations has taught me a few lessons in persistence. For starters, the inbox of media professionals are packed with others trying to accomplish the same goal of landing a pitch. Your email could have been easily missed and that is why it is important to follow up. Your pitch might not have been a great fit at the time, that is also why it is important to follow up. Your pitch could have been great, but perhaps the professional got sidetracked and just needs a gentle reminder. You get the message. Follow up serves as a great reminder about the greatness that awaits you both.
This is not an opportunity for you to be excessive and go to levels that could feel like harassment. A simple three times every three days outreach followup strategy could be enough of a hint if your pitch is a fit for the media professional at the time.
It is also important not to take it personally that someone may not respond to you right when you want them. The increase in demanding schedules make it harder for the average person to get all of their work done in one day, let alone make sure they respond to everyone who reaches out to them. This is not the opportunity to be aggressive in your followup to make a point. In fact, hostility is just another reason for the person not to respond to you. Follow up smarter not harder!
Consider the best way to reach out to the person!
Sometimes the reason why you didn’t get a great response is because your pitch was not fit, BUT sometimes the reason why you didn’t get a response is because you don’t have the best contact! Surely, in an ideal world, every time we reached out to someone we would receive a response but the truth is we are dealing with humans who are also navigating their own lives and have their own personal ways of doing things.
It is also important to remember that just because you have access to someone across every social media outlet, found their phone number on one of those directories, or pulled their email from a CC’d message, that you shouldn’t be professional in your outreach. The culture of the day lends itself to a more relaxed, impersonal approach with our levels of access but it is best practice to keep things professional as you are trying to make those connections.
It is so important with all the resources available to be creative in your outreach. You are vying for the attention that many others are also trying to capture. Think outside of the box and make sure to capture their attention with something that speaks directly to them.
In order to really think about the best strategy for outreach, sometimes it is important to ask the person on one channel how they might like to be contacted. The great part of social media is that many professionals will share the ways that are most effective to reach them. They are human just like you with a job, boundaries, and deserve the same respect that you would expect.
At the end of the day, media professionals need stories to tell. Don’t miss out on the fortunes- don’t forget to follow up!