Media Inquiry Emails Not Getting Replies? Do This

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Are you a fresh media professional whose emails requesting information aren’t being responded to? Check out these 7 tips that will help you get better results.

As a general rule, businesses don’t mind replying to emails sent by media. As a matter of fact, they look forward to it if there’s an opportunity for free media coverage.

However not all emails get answered. If you have ever worked for some media company — small or big — you’ve likely experienced it. Freelancers are more likely to experience it, but even large media houses are not immune to it.

So why do businesses not respond to emails when there’s a clear chance of being covered (or at least being quoted) by a newspaper, a magazine, a website, a blog for free?

How this started

I haven’t ever worked as a journalist, but I have occasionally sent emails as a freelance writer, seeking information.

And one of my current assignments with a SaaS (Software as a Service) company, interestingly, requires me, to respond to very occasional queries sent in by media.

That’s why I thought it might be interesting to put together my (limited) experience of sitting on both sides of the table.

I first listed out many factors that I believe influence the success of emails sent out by media. Then I grouped them under various heads. I found I had many heads (no pun intended), some of which could be highly specific. So I dropped a few and regrouped a few.

Finally, I froze on 7 heads that I thought covered most ground. Naturally I had to eliminate some important ones (I wanted to stick to the magic figure of 7, you see).

So here it is: the 7 things that could bring better responses to your emails that you send to businesses asking for further information.

Important: Since I’m not a journalist, let alone a veteran journalist, the tips I’m sharing are most suitable for fresh journalists.

Tip 1: Use your official email

I realized it late but I soon found that an email sent from an official email address (e.g. you @ newspapername dot com) received better and faster replies.

It’s about establishing credentials, I guess.

Tip 2: Time it right

Businesses are reluctant to respond to you when they’re in a legally precarious position. They’d rather err on the side of silence when there’s something major happening on their end.

Unless you’re a specialist fully qualified to hear from them, they’ll likely ignore your email that asks for, say, details on a buyout. And if at all you write to them, choose the right questions.

Tip 3: Be fair in what you ask

It’s terribly important to avoid the classic ‘trial by the media’ trap. Don’t ask questions that are masked as accusations — that’s not fair and they might not be answered.

If you’re an investigative journalist, you, in any case, know emails don’t count as investigation.

So be fair and word it right: ask for facts, not explanations.

Tip 4: Be precise and clear on what you’d like to know

Put things in black and white; don’t expect them to read between the lines. Respect their time and state your query clearly.

After all, they are business people, not mind-readers.

Also, don’t ask for information that’s available in their media kit or from other trustworthy source. Don’t make them do your legwork.

Tip 5: Be worthy of their trust

It might take time, but you need to build your reputation of being worthy of their trust. If someone requests anonymity, respect their choice.

You can break their trust only so many times.

Tip 6: Build relationships

A major reason (I believe) that only a handful of journalists get important information is that they’ve carefully built relationships over years.

No-brainer, I know.

But that’s important. I have received (and sent) replies faster to people I have known for some time than to complete strangers.

Tip 7: Never over-promise

I have seen it more than once, but I must confess I don’t know if this happens regularly: a journalist promises big coverage in exchange of receiving detailed answers for her front-page story. And in the end, all the business receives is a passing reference on the bottom of page 6.

It only lowers the ability of the journalist in the eyes of the business — evidently the journalist isn’t valued highly at her publication that they give her first-page space.

Avoid dangling a carrot that isn’t meant to be there anyway.

I write about technology, AI, data privacy and related stuff on my blog Almostism. Maybe you’d like to check it out.

Interested in AI, data privacy and our next-door dragon. Teach/Taught math. Love smart puzzles that I can’t solve, which means most. Run blog

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Mayank Batavia

Mayank Batavia

Interested in AI, data privacy and our next-door dragon. Teach/Taught math. Love smart puzzles that I can’t solve, which means most. Run blog

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