Top 7 Ways to Get Reporters to Open Your E-Mails
By Bill Stoller
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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. Hereís what you donít know: The vast majority of e-mails sent to journalists never get read. Bottom line: if your e-mails donít 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 filters having a tough day and has decided to start blocking things arbitrarily. You cant 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, youll find that -- once you can do this -- many spam triggers are easily avoided.
Rather than taking up space here with all the how-tos, allow me to simply direct you a terrific site on the subject:[http://www.wordbiz.com/avoidspamfilters.html]
- 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 reporterís attention. Youíve got one shot atgetting your e-mail opened, make the most of it with a killer subject line.
Hereís 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
Thatís a heading that will stand head and shoulders above the rest.
- Do --
* 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.
* Donít get cute or be too vague in your subject line. For example "Hereís a Great Story!" is vague and sounds like spam;
"This Will Win You A Pulitzer!" will make you look silly (unless youíre 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.
- Don't --
* 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 hes working an electric car story, he should get in touch, as youre 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 hed like to see a full press kit. This technique really works!
- Never forward your media materials. --
When you forward any email, it produces a few lines on the side of the text message called claret symbols. Reporters have come to hate these symbols - they represent a sign of disrespect and laziness.
- Never use the BCC (blind carbon copy) field of your email --
The very nature of reporting is to get the "scoop" on the competition. We all know the media covers the same story, but why shove in their faces that your email is going out to dozens of other reporters - some who may be their direct competitors! Solution? Either take the time to place each reporter's email address in the "To:" field (itís always a good practice to personalize each email)
Bill Stoller, the "Publicity Insider", has spent two decades as one of America's top publicists. Now, through his website, eZine and subscription newsletter, Free Publicity: The Newsletter for PR-Hungry Businesses http://www.PublicityInsider.com/freepub.asp, he's sharing -- for the very first time -- his secrets of scoring big publicity. For free articles, killer publicity tips and much, much more, visit Bill's exclusive new site: http://www.publicityInsider.com/
Article Submitted On: July 28, 2004