Five practical tips to make your PR pitch email stand out

Posted on 20/01/2022 by Team Hallam

With statistics showing the majority of PR pitch emails fall on deaf ears, we’ll talk you through how to make your email pitches stand out and get your content picked up.

It’s the bane of any Digital PR’s life: you’ve written great content, whether it’s a press release, a news story or a story idea, but you just can’t seem to land it with the right publication. 

In this blog, we’ll talk you through the importance of dedicating time and effort to the right areas of your pitch, understanding why journalists aren’t opening your emails and what you can do to change that.

Firstly, what does the data show?

According to journalists from the likes of Reuters, GoodHousekeeping, Vogue and The Washington Post, they receive anywhere between 200-400 emails per day.

In 2020, journalist open rates for pitches was 36%, yet in 2021, that figure dropped to 28%. Similarly, response rates to pitches also fell from 4.62% to 3.49%.

With journalists opening fewer and fewer of our emails, you need to make your PR pitch email pop and catch the eye of a journalist to ensure your ‘hot off the shelf’ content doesn’t get lost in their inbox. 

Here are our five tips on how to make your emails stand out.

1. Spend time perfecting the subject line

For a journalist who is receiving hundreds of email and PR pitches every day, the subject line is the exception to the rule ‘don’t judge a book by its cover.’ First impressions count when pitching so it’s important you give the email subject line the time it deserves.

Ensuring you are including a snappy, interesting and data-centric subject line will really draw the journalists eye to your email pitch and increase the chances of increasing the clickthrough rate of your content and the chances of it being picked up by the publication.

An email subject line is the first thing a journalist will read so really, it should be something you are dedicating some serious thought and time to before outreaching.

2. Always send a follow-up email – but don’t be pushy! 

As we have already touched upon, journalist’s receive hundreds of emails every day so despite having a killer subject line and a great pitch, your PR pitch email could still slip through the net. 

But, that doesn’t mean you can’t get your pitch through.

Always schedule a PR pitch follow-up email to be sent after your first email. This gives those journalists a chance who may have missed your email the first time around or those who may have been off on holiday to reconsider your pitch. 

It is important to remember that you do not want to spam your media contacts, especially if they have opened and not replied to your email, the first time around. 

Tools such as Buzzstream are incredibly useful here as not only will they monitor open and click-through rates, but they will also allow you to write and schedule your follow up email in advance to those within your media list who haven’t replied. 

It is also important to note that in some cases a journalist may still publish your content but hasn’t had the time to reply to your email. Keeping an eye on your media monitoring platforms and conducting your own research on Google before sending a follow-up is a good way to ensure you aren’t spamming the inboxes of those who are picking up on your content. 

As a rule of thumb, I tend to schedule follow up emails one week after sending my original pitch, giving my media outlet contacts an opportunity to read my pitch before reminding them.

3. Are overly-personalised emails worth your time? Not really… 

Something I thought made a huge difference in my pitches when starting my career in Digital PR, was that I needed to write a really personal email to ‘cut through the noise’ of an email inbox. 

This isn’t exactly the case.

Journalist’s are time-poor and, in frank terms, only care about the story and if it’s a right fit for them and their publication. Writing your email pitch to be concise, to the point and packed full of everything the journalist needs is the best way to get your pitch considered by a journalist. 

Each pitch you send to a journalist should be tailored to them and their publication but they shouldn’t be overly personal, take up too much of your time or take away from the real detail of your PR pitch email. 

During September 2021’s Digital PR Summit, Senior Digital PR Manager, Marina Plummer, argued that while it’s important to personalise your emails by directly addressing the journalist, it’s not practical to spend too much time on personalising when “most of the time, the only thing the journalist cares about is a great story.”

In a recent whitepaper, PR Specialist, Jayne Brooks, also comments that in her media pitches, she no longer writes ‘how are you?’ while asking the question. She explained: “If a journalist saw this pop up in the corner of the screen, why would they be inclined to click the notification and open the email?”

Building relationships with journalists is important but I believe the best way to do this is to send them relevant, engaging content that makes their lives easier. 

And an email thanking the journalist for publishing your content can never hurt…

4. Give the journalist everything they need in your email pitch

As I touched on earlier, journalists are very short of time so it is essential that when pitching your content, you make life as easy for them as possible. 

In most cases, when you are pitching content to a journalist, you will need to accompany this with high res imagery and other relevant media. A journalist should never have to ask you for access to this – it should be provided in the original PR pitch email. 

If not included in the body of the content, platforms such as Google Drive and WeTransfer are great tools that will allow you to send large attachments without taking up too much space in your email. 

Providing the journalist with everything they need to write a story will increase the likelihood of them picking up your pitch and publishing your killer content.

5. Keep your outreach lists up-to-date – avoid the dreaded email bounce 

As Digital PRs, a collective pet-hate is the dreaded email bounce. You’ve got great content, a smart pitch and a killer email yet when it hits the inboxes, it comes back moments later. 

Like pretty much anything in life, it’s essential to prepare. Ensuring you have an up-to-date outreach list will make your life a lot easier when it comes to increasing your open and click-through rates. 

Using reliable database tools, such as Cision, are a great way to keep your media contacts up to date but also doing your own research will also be useful. 

Researching journalists and the topics they cover for their publications is a great way to keep updated lists for your clients. Doing this will allow you to keep track of the type of content they are publishing and, crucially, give you an insight into what you will need to do to get their attention.

Can we help you? 

I hope you found these tips on how to make your PR pitch email standout useful. We have a dedicated team of Digital PR professionals ready to help you. 

Why not get in touch? See what we could deliver for your business here.


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