Getting Reporters to Open Your E-Mails
By Bill Stoller
Tuesday, July 27, 2003; 3:00pm EST
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 an email 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 filter 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 email 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
Rather than taking up space here with all the how-to�s, allow me to
simply direct you a terrific site on the subject:
Getting Your E-Mail Opened & Read
After beating the email 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: 1) 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]:
2) Try to incorporate the reporter's first name also at the beginning
of the subject line.
3) 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
With these three tips in mind, a successful e-mail subject line might
[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.
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
* 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!
Source of Article
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
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: