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 a spam 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 spam 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 spam 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.
Getting Your E-Mail Opened & Read
After beating the spam 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:
- 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]:
- Try to incorporate the reporter’s first name also at the beginning of the subject line.
- 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 might read:
[Story Idea]: Linda, Here’s a Tip for Your “Cooking with Linda” Column
That’s a heading that will stand head and shoulders above the rest.
Email Do’s and Don’ts When Contacting Reporters
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 news.
- 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 attachments.
- Place the following words (by themselves) in the subject line: “Hi”, “Hello” – the media’s spam filters will pounce and destroy.
- 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!
Recommended Readings on How to Get Publicity:
- PR 101: The Home Business Guide to Media Relations
- Pitching the Media Correctly to Market Your Home Business
- How to Get Press Coverage for Your Business
- How to Be Successful in the Media
- The No BS Guide to Getting on TV
- The Publicity Handbook, New Edition : The Inside Scoop from More than 100 Journalists and PR Pros on How to Get Great Publicity Coverage
- How To Get Publicity: Revised and Updated for the Internet Age
- Writing Effective News Releases: How To Get Free Publicity For Yourself, Your Business, Or Your Organization
- (GET FREE PUBLICITY) How to Use Newspapers and Magazines for Public Relations, FreeAdvertising, Internet Marketing, Website Promotion, and Small Business Publicity
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