A while back I wrote a blog titled The Original Word of Mouth about the power of a phone call as a tool to cut through the electronic clutter in trying to reach reporters. Making phone calls to connect on a deeper level with reporters is something I strongly believe in and an essential tool in my media relations bag of tricks.
An effective email pitch is another.
In today’s e-world, media relations folks simply cannot get away from the fact that many reporters prefer email over voicemail and request that form of communication alone. But with the ever-increasing numbers of emails that flood reporter’s inboxes, how do you cut through the clutter? Here are some tips for crafting an email pitch that will catch a reporter’s attention.
Subject Lines Matter!
- The subject line is the first thing a reporter sees and can literally make or break whether you get their attention. This is your first (and often only) chance to make an impression. Be sure to include a compelling data point or research finding if you have them. A contrarian point-of-view can help, or you can reference a timely news event to add relevance. If leveraging a story the reporter recently wrote, use the title in the headline. And, if you have a relationship with the reporter, be sure to include the name of your organization and the name of the subject matter expert you represent in the subject line.
- Not: “The Future of Legal – What’s Coming Will Impact Consumers”
- Instead: “Trump Administration Budget Cuts Threaten Consumer Access to Justice”
Use your subject line to really be up front and say what you mean. After you’ve written the subject line, have a colleague read it and ask the question “so what, who cares, why me?” Are you timely and relevant? If not, back to the drawing board.
- The body of the email should be short and sweet. The pitch should be clear and compelling and should be written so that a quick skim of the email is all a reporter needs in order to get the idea. Anything longer will be lost on a reporter that is inundated with information and short on time.
Be sure to start with the strongest information first in a short statement and be provocative, controversial, and when possible offer an idea that is countertrend. Be sure to use bullets to support the pitch and add visuals where you can to call attention to something specific. Hyperlinks are your friends in pitches as they enable to you to provide a lot more detail without letting the pitch letter get too long. Be sure to link to relevant supporting materials, research/data, third-party findings, other news stories, etc.
- No attachments. Most reporters still consider attachments to be annoying and an extra step that slows them down. Put the pitch in the body of the release. Attachments could also cause your email to be lost in spam.
- Maintain relationships with journalists even if you have no news. Feel free to share something you have seen that would be of interest to them given the subject they cover or check in to see if they are looking for sources from time to time.
- Do not use creative punctuation or jargon – keep your pitch easy for everyone to understand.
- Make sure your pitch is mobile ready – more and more reporters are skimming emails on the run. If the email is hard to see and digest on any device, it will be skipped.
Simplicity and creativity it key to an effective email pitch. What other tips do you have to share to help break through the clutter with reporters? I’d love to hear.