The Ultimate PR Edge: Getting Reporters To Open Your E-Mails
You know that getting publicity is vital to the health of your
business. You probably also know that e-mail is the way most
publicity seekers get in touch with reporters to score that
precious coverage. Here’s what you don’t know: The vast
majority of e-mails sent to journalists never get read.
Bottom line: if your e-mails don’t get read, you have no shot at
getting the publicity you so desperately need.
Here’s how to beat the odds:
Avoiding the Spam Trap
To an email filter, your humble e-mail pitch may appear to contain
an array of trigger words and suspicious phrases. A server that
relayed your message may be on a blacklist – a “do not open”
list of known spammers. Or perhaps the filter’s having a tough
day and has decided to start blocking things arbitrarily. You
can’t prevent every instance of filter blocking, but you can take
some steps to help lessen the chances of your e-mail ending up in
a black hole.
The most important step is learning how email filters think, and
creating e-mails that avoid the usual pitfalls. Fortunately,
you’ll find that — once you can do this — many spam triggers
are easily avoided.
Rather than taking up space here with all the how-tos, allow me
to simply direct you a terrific site on the subject:
Getting Your E-Mail Opened & Read
After beating the email filter, next up is getting your e-mail
opened and read. The key: the subject line. No matter how on-
the-money your pitch, a subpar subject line will kill any chance
of getting the reporter’s attention. You’ve got one shot at
getting your e-mail opened, make the most of it with a killer subject line.
Here’s how to do it: 1) Place the word “News” or “Press Info” or
“Story Idea” at the beginning of your e-mail subject line, in
brackets e.g.: [Story Idea]:
2) Try to incorporate the reporter’s first name also at the
beginning of the subject line.
3) If you know the name of the reporter’s column, for instance
“Cooking with Linda”, also try to incorporate that. One more
thing — if the reporter doesn’t write a regular column, try to
at least include their beat (e.g. Joe, re: your future pieces on
the wi-fi industry).
With these three tips in mind, a successful e-mail subject line
[Story Idea]: Linda, Here’s a Tip for Your “Cooking with Linda”
That’s a heading that will stand head and shoulders above the
Here are a few more e-mail do’s and don’ts:
* Make the information you place in the subject line short and
to the point. Often, reporter’s e-mail software cuts off the
subject at only a few words.
* Don’t get cute or be too vague in your subject line. For
example “Here’s a Great Story!” is vague and sounds like spam;
“This Will Win You A Pulitzer!” will make you look silly (unless
you’re delivering the scoop of the century, of course!).
* Try to make your most newsworthy points at the top of your e-
mail message – don’t expect a reporter to scroll down to find the
* Include your contact information, including cell phone, e-mail
address, regular address, fax number & website URL at the
beginning and end of the e-mail.
* Include a link to your website if you have additional
information such as: photos, press releases, bios, surveys, etc.
* Include more than a short pitch letter or press release in the
body of your e-mail.
* Allow typos or grammatical errors.
* Include an attachment with your e-mail. In this day and age of
sinister viruses, reporters automatically delete e-mail with
* Place the following words (by themselves) in the subject line:
“Hi”, “Hello” – the media’s spam filters will pounce and
* Send an e-mail with a blank subject line.
A cool tip: Use Google News (www.news.google.com) to search for
recent stories that have appeared relating to your industry or
field of interest. Then, e-mail the reporter directly (use a
subject line such as Re: Your July 5th piece on electric cars).
Give positive feedback on the story and let him know that, next
time he’s working an electric car story, he should get in touch,
as you’re an expert with provocative things to say. Give a
couple of supporting facts to back up the assertion, include your
phone number and web link, and ask if he’d like to see a full
press kit. This technique really works!
Bill Stoller, the “Publicity Insider”, has spent two decades as one of America’s top publicists. Now, through his website, eZine
and subscription newsletter, Free Publicity: The Newsletter for PR-Hungry Businesses http://www.PublicityInsider.com/freepub.asp, he’s sharing — for the very first time — his secrets of scoring big publicity. For free articles, killer publicity tips and much, much more, visit Bill’s exclusive new site: http://www.publicityInsider.com