Three Email Tips to Impress the Press

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Click. Open Email. Move to Spam. Delete. Next.
Click. Open Email. Move to Spam. Delete. Next.

It is inbox overload in the first 60 seconds of a journalist’s workday. From follow-ups to bizarre requests, reporters are inundated with messages that most of them are not even interested in covering. Over time, their tolerance fades for wayward story pitches. I hate to break it to you but journalists aren’t going to give an average Joe their time.

According to a Muck Rack article, the ratio of public relations professionals to “pitchable” journalists is now 6-to-1. This trend doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. Since public relation practitioners work in a larger market, they struggle to earn media coverage. The article stated, “The shrinking audience PR pros aim to reach (the media) is being bombarded with pitches, decreasing the chance of cutting through the noise.”

Check out these three helpful writing tips below on how public relation professionals can avoid becoming junk mail in a journalist’s inbox.

  1. Get personal in your pitches.
    One of the best “PR pick-up lines” is to greet journalists by their appropriate names. I know, sounds pretty easy. However, this simple gesture gets overlooked when public relation professionals strive to earn coverage from multiple media outlets. Journalists reject 95% of the pitches they receive weekly because the pitches are not customized. It never hurts to double-check the name and media outlet the pitch is addressed to avoid any inaccuracies.
  2. Get compelling with your subject line.
    PR Couture discovered 85% of journalists decide if they are interested in a pitch based on the subject line alone. This single line of 10 or fewer words is one of the most critical parts of your pitch since it is your first impression on a journalist. Public relation professionals must tease the journalist’s interest by creating a subject line so intriguing they can’t help but click to open your pitch.

To increase your email pitch open rates, your subject line could reference a personal connection to the journalist or include details from one of their previous stories. Avoid the temptation to create “witty or cute” subject lines. Instead, be specific on why journalists would personally be interested in your story.

  1. Get to your point.
    Brevity is a crucial aspect of keeping a journalist’s attention in your email pitch. In order to avoid digression, flush out any details that do not pertain to your story. To be economical in your writing, include concise bullet points that organize your thoughts. Get straight to the point by customizing your pitch to capture journalists’ eyes and make your story a “no brainer” for them to share with their audiences.

Emma Bannen, writer and editor for Platform Magazine, stated in her recent article, “The quicker a pitch grabs a reporter’s attention, the more likely it is to earn a placement.” She added, “Getting your point across quickly is arguably the most important skill for pitching.”

Establishing and maintaining healthy media relations is vital for the longevity of a PR professional’s career. By customizing email pitches, creating an engaging subject line and getting straight to the point, PR professionals will cut through the noise, stand out among the flood of pitches and, ultimately, impress the press.

From Clermont, Florida, Michaela McLean is a senior double majoring in Dance and Public Relations at the University of Alabama. She is an editor and writer for Platform Magazine, an online, student-run publication focused on the discussion and advancement of the public relations industry. She recently just earned two Medallion Awards from the Public Relations Council of Alabama for her media kit and communication plan for The Autism Society of Alabama. This spring, Michaela interned for ABC 33/40 in Birmingham, Alabama and shadowed anchors, reporters and producers in the newsroom. She co-created “Brave & Beautiful, LLC,” a ministry that empowers young women to live, love and lead courageously. She is also involved in PRSSA, PRCA, Alpha Gamma Delta, Dance Alabama, Alabama Repertory Dance Theatre, Miss America Organization, and Delight Ministries.

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