Anyone who has ever read a book on sales or taken a sales course has heard it -- on average it takes anywhere from 3 to 10 contacts before a sale is reached. Although sales and publicity are very different animals, the same rule of thumb applies when pitching your release/story idea to the media. Because of the Internet and email, media outlets today are bombarded with hundreds if not thousands of media pitches each week. So, it is more important than ever that to make sure your release gets noticed. This doesn't mean pitching to more media outlets -- it means your publicist or PR staff should take the time to pitch to your specific media market multiple times.
Whether you pitched the release yourself or hired someone to do it for you -- did the release make contact? Sure it arrived, but is that the release that editor needs that day, for that article or for that issue. Hopefully so, but many times that is not the case. So the release is either saved for future use (again hopefully) or more than likely it is set aside, trashed or deleted. The releases/pitches that get used are the ones that are, in fact, newsworthy, media-friendly and arrive at opportune times. As you might imagine a perfect combination of all three translates into your best chances of media coverage and publicity.
Using a release distribution service gets your release pitched ONCE. But the most successful campaigns are those that are strategically and effectively maintained and/or re-pitched with calculated frequency. Most media outlets don't or can't respond to your initial release or pitch.
Based on my professional experience as a PR/Publicity Specialist, I would estimate that media placements occur in the following manner:
33% occur after the 1st - 2nd month of pitching
50% occur after the 3rd - 4th month of pitching
17% occur after the 5th+ months of pitching
Sometimes (in fact most times) a strong placement happens when a release hits an editor at the right place at the right time. Sure you may have pitch that media contact three times over the last few weeks, but perhaps that reporter/editor/producer didn't have the time or the editorial space to work your release into a placement. Your opportunity for placements increases with meticulous, media follow-ups and re-pitches. What many business owners/entrepreneurs don't realize is the majority of media outlets fail to respond until after the third or fourth pitch. I continue to be amazed and amused at the editor/producer who, upon receiving a pitch for the fourth time says, "I am so glad you reminded me of this release! Great timing! This will fit perfectly in a feature were doing this week/month!" If the release had just been pitched once and not followed up, those placements would not have taken place.
So make sure your PR staff isn't afraid to wind up and pitch your campaign multiple times. Just like in baseball, the more pitches there are, the better the chance you get to make a hit.