When pitching a journalist via email, you have about five seconds to grab his/her attention—and that's if it's a slow day in the newsroom. A number of journalists admit to deleting emails from their inboxes in batches of 20 or more. In an era of shrunken budgets and understaffed newsrooms, communicators simply don't have the luxury of time when trying to catch a reporter's attention.
At PR News’ recent Writing Workshop in San Francisco, Angie Larsen, senior manager of corporate relations at USANA Health Sciences, shared some tips to keep your email pitches from ending up in a reporter's digital trash can.
- Write concise, informative subject lines. Keep your subject lines between four and seven words. Don’t be afraid to be clever or unique, but don’t tease what you can’t back up.
- Stick to the facts in your pitch. The body of the email should focus on the facts of the story you are presenting. Keep it simple. One paragraph that includes a two-to-three-sentence introduction to the story generally works best. Spend time on the first sentence. This is your hook, and it will determine if the reporter you are pitching is going to read any further.
- Know your target. Research reporters to learn their beats and determine whom you should reach out to with your email pitch. It helps to plug a previous related story they wrote. It lets the reporter know that you have done your homework.
- Become a go-to expert. Reporters are always looking for new sources of information. If you can provide valuable insight to a reporter, then you will earn the right to be used as an expert source.
- Think like a journalist. Bring them specific information and insights while keeping in mind that they are pressed for time and resources.
Follow Angie Larsen: @AngieLarsen1
Follow Richard Brownell: @RickBrownell