Michael Smart

Are the Media Ignoring Your Email Pitches?

By: Michael Smart | August 23, 2016 | 
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Media Ignoring Your Email Pitches? Do ThisFrustrated that media influencers don’t respond to your email pitches?

Clueless as to whether they even OPEN them?

You’re not alone.

By some counts, there are now four PR people for every one media influencer.

It’s nearly impossible to stand out in their email inboxes.

But don’t worry—I have a panacea for you.

Best Email Pitch Subject Line of All Time

What’s the sole purpose of the subject line of your media email pitch?

It’s not to summarize what’s inside.

It’s simply to get them to open the email.

Therefore, here is the all-time, all-purpose best email subject line that ALWAYS gets their attention:

“I have your daughter.”

J/K 😄

Although I do have a legit, proven subject line formula to share with you.

More on that later.

First you need to look at this dilemma at a deeper level.

What Your Real Objective SHOULD Be

Often we get fixated on finding better ways to do the same thing.

And we totally miss the opportunity to accomplish our desired objective through a different, easier path.

Most PR pros slug it out with hundreds of other people every week to get noticed in our target influencers’ email inboxes.

Even though this is their most competitive real estate, PR people keep doing it because that’s what they’re used to and that’s what influencers have come to expect.

It’s like a “PR mosh pit” that goes from bad to worse.

You end up getting bruised and bloodied with weakened chances of success.

If you want superior results, you must have a superior plan to create those results.

Your primary intent should be to simply show up DIFFERENT.

A Different Strategy that Gets Results

The “least-crowded inbox” strategy is one way to do it.

Step back and scope out a different channel, one where there is less competition.

Not every time, but enough to stand out so the influencer starts opening your email pitches later.

Here are some examples:

  • A handwritten note referencing a recent piece and offering some additional value.
  • Posting a comment, not on the journalist’s primary article, but on his/her post on a less-trafficked blog or video channel.
  • Believe it or not, the phone is now a less-crowded channel, especially on Friday afternoons (another violation of conventional wisdom).

After you do this successfully, influencers come to open your email pitches not because of what’s in the subject line, but because of your name in the “from” line.

She Landed MarketWatch and WSJ

I shared this concept in more detail during one of my trainings.

A few weeks later I got an old-fashioned letter in the mail.

It was from Lia Giachino, a sharp NYC agency pro who wrote that she wanted to reach me via my “least-crowded inbox.”

Sure enough, hers was the only letter I got that day.

Lia also shared that she had used the principles she learned to land a feature story for one of her clients on MarketWatch and the Wall Street Journal.

I am always on the hunt for ways to improve my skills and your insights have gone above and beyond. I’ve seen a huge jump in my response rate and received very positive feedback from journalists thanking me for tailored pitches.

This “least-crowded inbox” strategy is a simple thing that 99 percent of your competition (except Lia!) will never do.

People want to believe that success is made up of silver bullets or “big breaks.”

It’s not.

It is made up of doing simple things 99 percent of people won’t do.

Lia has gone on to use her track record of pitching success to transition to a new job with a 20 percent raise.

She deserves all the credit for seeking continuous improvement and taking action to implement what she’s learned.

Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That

Notice how Lia mentioned her “tailored pitches”?

If your reaction to these tips so far is “that takes too long,” here’s the “higher law” that will free you to earn more and better placements than you currently think is possible:

Spend 80 percent of your time on the top 20 percent of your media list.

Instead of worrying about the entire universe of potential outlets that could feasibly cover you, take only the cream of the crop.

Whatever the time you have allotted for media relations—even if it’s only a couple hours per week—spend nearly all of that time on, say, five to 10 influencers.

They’ll catch on to the specialized treatment and knowledge you have to offer, and then everything gets easier.

Her Placements Went Up 800 Percent

Another PR pro reaping the rewards of this shift in perspective is Desirae Franco.

She was slaving away, managing PR for three of her company’s brands, getting some placements here and there.

She was told that’s just how this business is now, that it comes down to brute force and luck.

But inside she felt there had to be a better way.

She was on the hunt and came across some of these strategies I’m sharing here.

And in one year, her placements went up 800 percent.

We used to just spray and pray because we thought we had so much stuff going out that’s all we had time to do. But after learning about customizing from you, we applied it, and it works – this has changed the trajectory of my career.

Now Desirae has been promoted to director, with overall responsibility for all 10 of her company’s brands.

And she earned a budget increase to engage three agencies to assist her.

Okay, What To Do If You Need Results NOW

If you don’t have relationships yet, nothing I’m talking about here matters if your target influencers don’t read your email pitches.

One time of many when I was in that situation, I carefully crafted customized email pitches to seven top-tier business writers.

The pitch was relevant to about 100, but I started with those seven.

The New York Times writer wrote back, “Sure, sounds great!”

The Wall Street Journal contact responded, “I’m always happy to look at things like this.”

Those people had never heard from me before. Not by email. Not by any other “inbox.”

So why did they even open my cold email pitch?

Because I had figured out a subject line formula that earned responses from national media 80 percent of the time.

You might not think that’s possible.

And if our positions were switched, I would be skeptical as well.

So I’m willing to prove it to you.

By offering you this “magic” subject line along with a clear explanation about the psychology behind the words, you’ll be able to quickly adapt it for your own pitches.

All I ask is that you read it carefully and only use this power for good.

Use the request form here to get your free copy.

image credit: shutterstock

About Michael Smart


Michael Smart trains PR teams on how to be more effective. His recent clients include General Motors, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, and Georgia Tech. He is regularly rated among the top speakers at the industry's largest conferences.