The Do’s and Don’ts of Emailing Journalists
Emailing is a great way to communicate, it’s fast and efficient. However, when done incorrectly, your email may be ignored or deleted and the journalist may be less likely to open subsequent emails – and you want them to stay open to future ideas. As a public relations firm, we’ve had a lot of experience emailing journalists and learned some best practices along the way. Below are some do’s and don’ts of emailing media, so you successfully captivate them the first time around.
Do write a relevant and catchy subject line – but don’t write too much
The quickest way to get your email deleted is to write a boring or long subject line. Look at your inbox and count how many words show up on the subject line – that’s about how many you should stick to, any more won’t be seen. If the average space is 5-7 words, use that space wisely. Stick to the point and grab the journalist’s attention – they receive many (maybe hundreds) of emails each day, and it’s probably not a stretch to say that most of those emails won’t get a response. With a catchy and short subject line, you’re increasing the chances of getting your email opened and one step closer to securing your story.
Do start with a pleasantry – but don’t be over-the-top
Starting your email with a pleasantry is a great way to be authentic. After all, developing relationships with media is more important than securing a one-time piece about your company’s 10-year anniversary. Start your email with something quick and friendly, such as “I hope your day is going well”, “I hope you’re staying dry on this raining day” or “Happy Friday!” If you don’t know the journalist personally, you probably shouldn’t send a paragraph about the Trailblazer’s big win last weekend, it may seem like you’re trying to schmooze them.
Do provide all the relevant information – but don’t give them a novel
Again, keep in mind how many emails journalists receive each day. With so many emails to read and only eight hours to get through them, journalists often give emails a skim before moving on. If they open an email to see seven paragraphs, they’ll probably delete it. Keep the email short – but don’t leave anything important out. If possible, make sure to always include who, what, when, where and why. Tell the journalists everything they will want to know, just do it concisely.
Do follow up – but don’t call them
Journalists are busy and may forget to respond to your email. It’s okay to follow up after a week or so – in fact, they often appreciate the reminder. However, avoid calling them. If a journalist didn’t respond to your email, they either didn’t see it or aren’t interested in the story. Calling them won’t change their mind, it will just take up more time of their day.
When it comes to emailing journalists, the most important aspects are to be yourself and know who you’re emailing. Make sure you’re reaching out to the most relevant person that will care about your idea/news – not just the first contact you can find. Spend time crafting your subject line and ensuring the email reads easily. Other than that, be authentic and don’t be afraid to follow up after a week. If you aren’t finding success, be patient! Good relationships take time.