Poll: Most PR Pros Wait One to Three Days to Call After an Email Pitch

The Waiting Game: We've all seen enough romantic comedies to know that after a first date, there are plenty of conflicting opinions and theories about the follow-up phone call. For PR pros, when it comes to calling journalists after an nitial pitch, we've also heard a range of tactics and strategies. 

Huffington Post small business editor Nate Hindman advised PR pros not to call journalists to pitch—ever. "We're usually up against one of many deadlines, and these calls throw us off track," he said. "I'd strongly suggest to always email pitches. Twitter also works for pitching, but Facebook is too personal." 

Mark Hamrick, Washington Bureau Chief at Bankrate and a former business reporter, broadcast, online video producer for the Associated Press, prefers email pitches and knows what makes a good phone pitch. "Phone calls are too hit and miss," he said. "If you do get someone on the phone and can't sum up your pitch in 20 seconds, you haven't thought it through— most journalists know in 10 to 20 seconds if a pitch has legs." 

Surely, PR pros are still picking up the phone and dialing journalists. But how long do they wait to do so? 

PR News polled its online community and found that, among the 118 respondents most PR pros will wait one day (36%) or three days (34%) to follow up an email pitch with a phone call; 14% will wait a full week while 13% will never make a phone call, agreeing that if journalists are interest in the pitch, they will contact you. Just 3% of the respondents said that they will follow up an email pitch with a phone call within a few hours.

Our recommendation? Phone pitches, regardless of the timeframe, work best for PR pros that have develop relationships with journalists. "The best relationships I've had with PR pros have been developed face to face," Hindman said. "Any chance you have to get a beer or a coffee with a journalist is very valuable." It's also a good idea to consider polishing your email pitching strategy, and understand journalists' needs and deadlines, that way you're not reaching them at the worst possible time.

Follow Bill Miltenberg: @bmiltenberg

  • Bill Bradley

    If I haven’t worked with the journalist before I call the top contacts after the email pitch to make sure they got and read the email. Many times it goes into their junk/spam folder or they just don’t see it with all the emails they get. Several times I’ve spoken with a journalist who can’t recall the email pitch and either finds it while I’m rehashing the pitch or asks me to resend it if he/she can’t find it. So use the phone but wisely.