Reporter Tips on Email Pitches that Don't Work
Last week my colleague Mike Sullivan shared some great influencer relations tips for working with veteran reporters from Mike Gormley of VentureWire. This week my colleague Christine Simeone sent around another great post from Business Insider in which the reporter candidly admits she missed some news because the three email pitches she received from high tech PR people did not capture her attention. There are some great lessons to be learned and I thank Christine and Alyson Shontell (@shontelaylay) for using Twitter to bring this to our attention.
It's a simple story. A PR agency sent three email pitches about a funding announcement to this reporter, but the all important subject line in all three did not grab the reporter, who therefore ignored the emails and missed the news.
Shontell explained: "I didn't open any of them until I saw the news -- which was actually interesting -- up on other sites.
Due to an absurd amount of startup pitches that infiltrate my inbox, I've learned to manage emails by scanning for three things:
- The sender
- The subject title
- The first sentence
I use Gmail, so those are the three things I can see without clicking to open the message."
The three emails didn't make it past this screen because the first pitch was trying to be clever and therefore wasn't clear about the offer. The second email offered an embargo, which this reporter said didn't work because, "No reporter wants news every other publication will be receiving. They want exclusives!" The third email included the startup's name, but since it wasn't known by the reporter, that didn't work either. As the reporter noted, "The most interesting part of the news, the investors (which help give unknown startups credibility), were never mentioned up front."
During a recent in-house peer-led training at our agency, two successful media relations people talked about the importance of the subject line. You only get a few seconds of the influencer's attention and you need to use them well. Whatever is most newsworthy about your announcement, along with whatever specifically you want or are offering, has to be in the subject line, ideally, or at least in the first sentence of the body of the email. There is no time to be cute, vague or non-specific if you want to cut through the pile and actually get opened, much less read and acted upon.