Stand Out in the Inbox: 10 Do’s and Don’ts for Better Media-Facing Emails

emailWith an increase in the demand for content, using email wisely in your media relations outreach can mean the difference between exceptional pickup and hours wasted on releases no one reads. The same characteristics that help grow relationships—authenticity, honesty, consistency and attention to detail—should be part of every email you send to a newsroom.

Even the most well-written release, loaded with brilliant assets, won’t deliver if no one opens your email. So how can you increase the chances that your release will stand out from inbox clutter?

Here are 10 do's and don'ts for better media-facing emails, courtesy of Malayna Evans Williams, managing partner at PWR New Media and a contributor to PR News' Writer's Guidebook Vol. 1:

  • DO use your organization name in your From line (the exception is if you’re sending to a small list of journalists you know personally, in which case personal names work better).
  • DO keep subject lines honest, clear and concise.
  • DO view From, Subject and headline in combination to avoid redundancies.
  • DO make contact info easy to find and use.
  • DO get creative with your content. Releases with more engaging content perform better. Recipe ideas, how-to videos, motion graphics and audio from key stakeholders are ideas worth exploring.
  • DON’T ever, ever, ever send attachments or large files (unless a journalist has specifically requested you do so).
  • DON’T send Flash files or animation.
  • DON’T hide important text in images. Most viewers in a B2B environment will have images blocked, so be careful about putting key info in images.
  • DON’T send journalists or bloggers information that is not directly relevant to them.
  • DON’T overestimate the value of metrics. Keep in mind that the value of a well-done release is not in the open rate—it’s in the ability to get your information directly to journalists and get more pickup.

For more writing help, check out PR News' Writer's Guidebook Vol. 1.

Follow Brian Greene on Twitter: @bw_greene

  • Pete Grasso

    These are some excellent tips. As a a B2B editor and former PR pro, I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to get terrible, irrelevant email pitches/press releases.

  • john

    As the editor of a magazine, I have 2 personal pet peeves for press releases sent to me:

    (1) A subject line that says “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE” or “IMPORTANT NEWS FROM XYX COMPANY.”

    When a deadline is looming and I’m scanning my press release folder for relevant news to publish, I want to be able to scan the subject lines and quickly determine if a release is relevant, and a subject line like “Jim Smith Appointed Deputy Head of Janitorial Services” or “ABC Pharmaceuticals Discovers a Cure for Cancer,” helps me quickly ascertain that.

    (2) a press release that is entirely contained in an attachment (e.g. pdf or Word document) with no information in the email indicating what the press release is about.

    If I have 500 press releases to go through, forcing me to open an attachment to figure out what the release is about means it’s less likely I’m going to take the time to do so, and I may skip over your press release.

    The releases I like have a concise subject line that summarizes the release, the text of the release in the email, and then attachments to support the text of the email.

  • EYang

    Thank you for the tips. At Firecracker PR, we strive to always improve our outreach to the media. We know they are bombarded every day with pitches, so our goal is always to maximize our chances of success.

  • lorenzo grandi

    About the From line – it also depends on what kind of audience you have, what business you represent and what message you’re trying to convey. Personally, I always use my name even when I email a lot of people and I see this in many other newsletters.