Public Relations 101: Six Tips for Subject Lines That Pop

Journalists often complain about the grind of the 24-hour news cycle. They’ve finished writing one news story and it’s immediately on to the next. They rarely have time leave their desk, let alone meeting you, grabbing coffee or sharing a drink.

For many journalists, a good day is when they find moments to check email or clean out their inbox.

Since email is their preferred way of communicating with public relations people, how do you get them to pay attention to your new product, start-up, or research?

  1. Command attention with subject lines.
    Nothing matters more to your email open rate than making your subject line stand out. Devote some time to it.  I’ve learned from experience that long and boring subject lines will get you no traction.

  2. Make the subject line your priority.
    It shouldn’t be an afterthought once the pitch is written. I often tell my PR clients to envision the headline about them in print. The subject line is that headline. Short ones that will captivate. Make it clever and funny. If you’re short on a sense of humor, ask your office jokester for ideas.

  3. Make it eye-catching and provocative or counter-intuitive.
    If your idea or concept goes against prevailing wisdom, say so in the subject line.

  4. Avoid your company’s name.
    Unless you’re McDonald’s, Walmart, Apple, or a local corporate giant its name is not likely to draw her to the story. It’s the news itself that will catch attention.Here’s an example:

    Boring: Company ABC’s new app helps teens find jobs

    Interesting: Teen-job seekers get help with new job-hunting app

  5. Don’t pitch. Praise!
    Reporters are human, too. They love to get compliments just like you do.Your subject line compliment could be: Loved your helpful story about XXX .Be genuine and tell him how their story moved you. It’s better if your compliment is NOT tied to pitching a client. Remember, your job is to build relationships, and that sending praise is the best way to do it.

  6. Don’t pitch. Thank!
    I’ve often thanked journalists for writing stories that shed light on a topic I care about. It shows that you’re a human too, and that you genuinely care about the reporter’s contributions to educating his/her readers. Again, your sincerity quotient jumps when your email shows you’ve taken the time to send only a thank you note.  It’s more likely you’ll be remembered and spotted in their inbox next time, when you send a story idea.

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