6 Tips For an Effective Email Pitch

Image: Sarah Bundy
Image: Sarah Bundy

Journalists get dozens of emails a day (if not more—depends on the journalist). Cutting through the clutter is a constant challenge for PR pros trying to get their pitches seen, let alone accepted.

Larry Parnell, associate professor of public relations at The George Washington University, recommends that PR execs ask the following questions before they click "send": Is it newsworthy, or just newsworthy to you? What type of news is it—breaking news, a feature or an evergreen piece?

Once you've settled on the brand of news you're pitching, use Parnell's checklist to increase your chances of getting your pitch across the plate:


• Single address a must. No group emails.

• No attachments: Provide links or paste in copy only if it's critical to pitch.

• Get to the point quickly.

• Call to action—what do they do if they are interested?

• Minimize follow-up calls; give them time to read/respond.

• Don’t make promises (spokespersons, access, etc.) you can’t keep.


Follow Lucia Davis: @LKCDavis

  • http://danielwoolfolk.com/ Daniel Woolfolk

    True! And a relevant subject line! I will ALWAYS click on an email that has the names of the communities I cover in the subject line. I end up missing a lot that look like they could take place anywhere.

  • rachel

    So when you say minimize your follow ups what exactly does that mean? I always give time before calling them but sometimes the only way to get an answer (even a no) is to do several follow ups. Please clarify to help us out. Cheers.

  • Lucia Davis

    Hi Rachel!

    I think it’s okay to follow up. The key part is waiting at least two business days (in my opinion). Give it 48 hours, and if you don’t hear anything, hit them up again on the phone or in an email. After that, I’d say try once more before moving on (you don’t want to annoy people).

    Daniel, care to chime in here?

    • http://danielwoolfolk.com/ Daniel Woolfolk

      A lot of phone follow ups let me realize that I missed an email. So I often sound confused at first, until I pull up the email. But then I do end up letting the publicist know other ways to get the information on the site and remind them to email me the link so that I don’t miss it and can place it higher or share on Facebook.

  • http://www.3hatscommunications.com/blog/ Davina K. Brewer

    In step w/ @danielwoolfolk:disqus on the strong subject line, when you get the point quickly you need to make sure it’s a point for them and for their audience. The point of the release isn’t about your client, the new product or service or event; it’s about how that is relevant, interesting, helpful, important – dare I say ‘news’ – to the reporter’s or blogger’s viewer, reader. On the follow-up; it depends. Perfunctory new hire or sales announcement, no; something really newsworthy, an event or source perfect for the media outlet/writer, yes I’ll give due time, make the call. FWIW.

  • markgrimm

    The slug (the four or five words in the subject box) is critical. Think how that will get them to open it. More about that here: http://markgrimm.com/blog/how-to-get-people-to-read-your-e-mails/