Let’s talk about subject lines. Last month, I connected with a magazine editor who shared that when she posted a request for pitches, she got over 200 responses within a few hours! While it’s no secret that journalists receive hundreds and hundreds of pitches per day, it made me reflect on the importance of subject lines when pitching media.
If we PR pros are always looking for ways to connect with journalists and editors, how do we stand out from the crowd when their inboxes are flooded with emails? How can you help journalists make sure they actually see your pitch? Sure, a well crafted pitch is essential but if the recipient is not even opening your email, you may need to rethink your subject lines.
Here are some do’s and don’ts to keep in mind next time you pitch:
Do Personalize Your Subject Line
There are several ways to personalize your subject lines. For instance, you may want to refer to an article the journalist recently wrote. Start your subject line with “Your recent piece in CNN” or “Your recent piece on the importance of doulas”. These types of subject lines will immediately tell the journalist three essential things: That you actually did your research, that you understand what they cover and that you know who they write for. Score!
Don’t Use All Caps
I get it, you want to ensure that the person you’re pitching literally SEES YOUR PITCH but in reality, this is very off-putting. It seems like YOU ARE YELLING at the recipient, a huge no-no for journalists.
Do Mention Your Relationship to Them
As we’ve already established, journalists get inundated with emails on a daily basis. Reminding them that you know them or have been in touch with them before might increase your chance of getting your email opened. Try something along the lines of “Hoping to Reconnect + Intro to New Restaurant in Boston”.
Don’t Be Generic
If you have 3 seconds to impress the editor, you need to make sure your subject line is flawless and intriguing enough to actually want to open the email and read more. Say you’re working with a bakery and want to entice local media to try their new pastries. If your subject line is something like “Boston Bakery”, I can almost guarantee that no one will open your email but if you tweak it to something exciting like “Boston Female-Owned Bakery Launches New Homemade Pumpkin Pop Tart”, you might actually get some responses!
Do Mention Their Name
Think about the last time you saw an email with your name in the subject line. It caught your attention, right? I know that when I receive an email with my name in the subject line, I am more likely to open it. Next time you send out a pitch, try the name-dropping technique. For instance, “Idea for Charlotte – Fall Outdoor Activity For Families” tells me that this email is specifically directed to me and my beat.
Don’t Include Attachments
While not technically related to subject lines, a writer will notice right away if there are attachments included in your email. Bulky attachments are a huge pain for journalists because it clutters their inboxes. Some journalists might be annoyed by this and delete your email without even opening it. Let’s help them out and avoid sending heavy files, large attachments and lengthy emails.
If you’re ready to have your emails stand out, remember these do’s and don’ts next time you come up with a subject line. Subject lines are arguably the hardest and most important part of crafting your pitch. It’s like the elevator pitch to your pitch, so make sure your subject is strong and you should see an increase in responses from writers. Happy pitching!