But we’re all forced to do it.
Complicating matters, journalists are busy people – consumed by deadlines and editors and hundreds of emails from public relations people just like you. So how, in the face of such a daunting process, do you make your emails stand out and get read? Here’s how:
•Compelling emails begin with compelling subject lines. A subject line entitled, “News Release,” will entice no one. Rather, a good subject line draws readers in and encourages them to learn more. Your challenge is to separate your subject line from most of the spam that reporters receive. The subject line should intrigue the reporter in some way, perhaps referencing an article the reporter has previously written or that directly concerns his interest area. For example, a subject line that reads, “Real Estate Developer Manages Employees by Remote Control,” might compel a real estate writer to read on into the body of the email; which, after all, is your objective.
•Next, the body of the email must start with a specific explanation of why you’re writing. Be direct about why you’ve chosen to write the reporter and what you’ve got for her. For example, “I’ve been reading your series on the mating habits of birds, and thought you might be interested in talking with a different kind of ornithologist.” This lets the reporter know your subject is right in his wheelhouse and your client might be worth talking to.
•Next, personalize the body of the email. Use the word, “you,” as much as you can, as a proxy not only for the reporter but, more important, for those who read her blog or listen to his broadcast. For example, “You may know people who home school their children, but did you know they may well be getting their lesson plans from home school guru, Marcus Picard?” Personalization also means tailoring your email pitch to the interests or subjects in which you know this particular journalist has interest.
•Next, call for the sale. What this means is, you need to suggest the action that you are recommending the reporter consider. For example, “An interview with Gustavo Merlo about his approach to fly fishing might give your readers just the impetus they need to catch that elusive big one.” Always, wrap up emails with a punchy statement, a leading question, or a call to action. And always indicate that you will “call to see if this idea makes sense to you.” And then, for gosh sakes…………call!
•Finally, sign your email with a professional signature, including all the information you think might be relevant for the reporter to check, if she is so inclined. Lead with your name, with an embedded link to your LinkedIn profile or other biography. Follow with your job title and company name; again, embed appropriate links. Finally, include your telephone number(s), email address, and social media, blog, and article hyperlinks. Don’t overwhelm the reporter, but do recognize that he might want to check out a bit more biographical data to know with whom he is dealing. So provide it for him.
•Finally, finally, consider the timing of your email. Reporters usually arrive for work later than other people and stay later as well. The best time to send a reporter an email, therefore, is when that particular journalist is reviewing his inbox – usually first thing in the morning and afternoon, after lunch.
It’s best, of course, to find out when a target reporter might be most amenable to email correspondence. That’s your job, because it’s your email, and you want it acted upon. After all, getting publicity results is why you’re getting paid. So start pitching.