In today’s world, we get more than a handful of emails each day. From friends and colleagues to discounts from our favorite stores, our inboxes can easily get cluttered. While some of those emails get opened, we can’t deny that most are just marked as read or, even worse, moved to trash.
So put yourself in a journalist’s shoes. Imagine how many pitches for potential story ideas they get each day. Just like us, I’m sure they don’t end up reading every email they receive (even if they want to).
If you’re in PR, you know that connecting with journalists is a key component of the job. Here are some tips for constructing a compelling email pitch that will inspire journalists to pay attention.
1. Write a Captivating Subject Line
Imagine all of the subject lines that pile up in our inboxes. This is the first impression an email makes and can immediately impact whether we decide to read it or not. What are some things you can do to make sure your subject line gets clicked on?
Two words I like to use are Here’s and You.
This lets the journalist know that what’s inside the email is either informative to their audience (Here’s the most popular coffee shop in each state) or something that will hook them personally to want to read further (We asked Americans how they really feel about weddings and the answers will shock you).
Also, don’t be afraid to get witty and creative. As cheesy as they may be, we can’t deny that we all chuckle at a rhyme, play on words, and even a good ol’ dad joke. Being clever in your subject line could lead to a journalist opening your email pitch.
Example: Doggone! Here’s the Most Common Pet Mistake that Lands Them in the Doghouse
It’s also effective to personalize your subject lines for local outreach. The difference between “These are the most popular flowers in the U.S.” and “This is the most popular flower in North Carolina” could greatly impact whether a journalist based in North Carolina wants to open the email. By seeing their state or city, they’re more likely to open it, as it directly pertains to their audience.
2. Use Eye-Catching Visuals
Now that the journalist has opened your email pitch, you want to keep their attention. If they see long, dense paragraphs, they may immediately lose interest. Try to format your email’s body copy in a way that is easy to skim and gets right to the point.
If your campaign is state-by-state based without many statistics, use a map!
Using a map is an efficient way to pitch to journalists at local news outlets. They can immediately find the information that’s pertinent to their state, city, or target audience without having to search for it and risk losing their interest.
If your campaign is a study or more focused on numbers, try to pull out the most interesting statistics and put them into short bullet points.
|Here are some interesting insights:
3. Check the News Cycle
While we can’t predict the future or what happens in the news cycle, relevancy is key. Can the topic of your campaign tie into a current event? Is there a national holiday or sporting event happening that you could mention as a way to pique the interest of the journalist? These are questions to ask that could take your email pitch to the next level.
You can tie this into the subject line:
Example: Celebrate National Taco Day in One of the Best Cities for Tacos
Or even include it in your closing statement:
Example: I thought this would make an interesting piece for your audience, and what better way to celebrate National Taco Day than in some of the cities with the best tacos.
4. Ask for a Second Opinion
After you’ve constructed your message, get a second opinion on it. There may be some statistics that you overlooked that could strengthen your email pitch, or even a different angle that you may not have thought of. Everyone thinks differently, so get feedback from a different perspective. Getting a team member to look over your pitch could strengthen your outreach and ultimately help get coverage you may not have otherwise gotten.
Using these tips has helped me craft stronger email pitches. When you keep them in the back of your mind, it becomes second nature to always seek out a different angle, different statistic, or different news tie-in that could grab the next journalist’s attention.
We’ve all seen the impacts of turning a not-so-strong pitch into one that’s compelling enough to make a difference. At the end of the day, coverage for your clients is key and making sure your pitches get opened is the first step!