One of your responsibilities as a PR professional, naturally, is to work with the media. That means, communicating your clients’ stories reporters and editors to draw their interest.
Surveys continue to show that members of the media overwhelmingly prefer receiving story ideas via email…more so than via tweets, phone calls or Facebook.
At the same time, media representatives are literally inundated with calls, tweets and, especially, emails on a daily basis. Weekdays, weekends, holidays…the bombardment doesn’t stop. So how do you get your email seen in all of this clutter?
It all starts with the subject line. What you write in that seemingly tiny space provided inevitably determines, for the most part, if the reporter or editor opens it.
A recent BuzzStream survey of 500 publishers asked how to “rise above the content marketing noise and earn their attention.” According to the survey results, 85 percent of publishers said they open pitches based on the subject line alone, which means your subject line is, indeed, the most critical part of your pitch.
Eric Sullivan, features editor at Esquire, said he looks for “wording that is both attention-grabbing and explanatory, that uses lively language, [and includes] just five or seven words that guarantees what follows is worth reading.”
If you can convey not just the specific detail of a piece, but also its greater context while staying brief, then you’ve got a real shot at getting that precious email opened, he said.
With that, here are six tips for writing attention-getting subject lines:
1) Mention your relationship with the reporter or editor. As mentioned earlier, always reference a previous time(s) you have worked with the reporter or editor and/or mention a recent article he/she wrote.
2) What’s in it for me? Just like the pitch itself, state the “what’s in it for me” in the subject line. Why should I, as a reporter or editor, care? Why is this story important to my readers?
3) Keep it short. “[A good pitch is] something that sums up the idea, but doesn’t trail on so far that I can’t actually read it all in my inbox window,” said Jennifer Ortiz, senior editor at Marie Claire in a recent interview with The Freelancer.
4) Identify the type of story and/or section it relates to. Use the exact name of the section that your story would fit into, whenever possible, to show that you are familiar with the publication.
5) Avoid sensationalism, or the “shock factor,” in your subject line. This tactic is actually LESS likely to get your email opened than to attract attention.
6) Avoid silly or clever subject lines. Believe it or not, according to the BuzzStream survey, less than 20 percent of respondents said they want to see humor in the subject line.