Bounce-backs and auto-replies – there’s a difference and why it matters

When you’re using Public Address, we let you know what happens to your email once it’s left our servers through the tracking page. Typically, one of three events will happen to your email – it will be delivered, you’ll receive an auto-reply or it will bounce-back to our server.

Of course, every single email reaching and being read by the journalist is the gold standard, but it’s inevitable that some of the emails to your media list will bounce back or receive an auto-reply. The important difference between these two types of automatically generated reply are broken down below:


A bounce-back occurs when an email isn’t delivered to the recipient’s inbox, which can be for a few reasons – the recipients mailbox is either full, the recipients server was down, the individual has left the organisation or the entire domain that you’ve sent the email to is no longer in use.

In the future, we’ll clean your mailing lists for you and show you when you’re trying to deliver an email to an inactive address, and expect over time that this will significantly reduce the amount of bounce-backs you’ll receive. For the time being, when you receive a bounce-back, check in with your media list provider to ensure you’ve been provided an up-to-date contact for that journalist or outlet.


An auto-reply is typically an out-of-office, informing you that the recipient is away on leave or otherwise occupied for the day. It can also be generated when the recipient has left the organisation, you’ve sent your email to a newsroom inbox that generates an auto-reply to let you know they’ve received your pitch or you’ve hit a spam shield that requires human verification.

We currently process these auto-replies for you and will pass them through as they’re received.

When you receive an auto-reply, it’s best to check what the reason for the auto-reply was, and then track down another journalist in the organisation that you can approach to pitch your story.

So there you have it – auto-replies and bounce-backs in a nutshell. As always, if you have any questions you can reach out to our support line on or 0488 839 892.