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Why Journalists are Deleting Your Email Pitches
By: Don McLean
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The difference between emailing and phone pitching is a hot debate amongst generations in the PR world. I hear it and I get both sides. However, with a new generation moving entirely to a focus on email communication, you have to understand how to make email pitching work hardest for you before you pick up the phone.

As PR professionals we, as an industry, can get very caught up on words — we want to make sure we say everything in the messaging. But that’s not your goal. Your goal is to get a journalist — a very, very busy journalist — interested in the news you have to share. They don’t have time to read everything, unless of course you get their attention first. My background in marketing and business overall has proven very helpful in understanding what goes wrong in the email hole between your desk and say, The Wall Street Journal.

It was too long
Don’t get too wordy. Cut that out right away. Get the interest, then provide the support. Your email should be as short as possible to get your point across. Journalists seem to appreciate emails that don’t read like an epic novel.

It lacked focus
Why should they care? Think about that. You have created the “perfect pitch,” but what is the one thing you want them to think about after reading it? Once you determine that, rewrite the pitch around it. I like to start out with the ask right away. If they need more info, include a few bullets or background material below your signature. When you’re focused and up front, it will pull you ahead in the line of emails.  

No visual
This one’s simple. Anytime you have a visual, use it. Whether it’s an interesting product, infographic, design, or picture, it will help catch the eye.

You don’t know them
Know their beat before you pitch. Sounds simple, but it doesn’t happen as often as you think. Your email pitch will work harder for you if you personalize it a bit because you know what they like or what they’ve written.

Thoughts on a proper subject line
A headline should be relatively short as well. There are tons of articles out there that will tell you how snappy to make it, but I just use a headline analyzer. It’s really simple and it rates how well your headline would perform. In my office, we have even created a little game to see who can get the strongest subject line for the same pitch.

Of course, there is no silver bullet that will give you the nickname “media slayer,” but these tips should give your pitching a jumpstart to make your emails work harder for you before you pick up the phone. If you have any other interesting tips, tweet me.


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About the Author
Don McLean, MBA is an account supervisor at Airfoil Group, an independent marketing and public relations firm serving tech companies and innovation-centric brands with offices in Detroit, New York and Silicon Valley. Follow Don on twitter at@mclean_don.  
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