EDITOR TIPS: SUBJECT LINES THAT GET PITCHES READ
You can put together a beautiful pitch that’s well thought-out with bullets, tips, links, imagery and more. But, if you can’t get anyone to open your well-crafted email, then all that time spent was pretty much a waste.
Responding to a pitch is a whole other ballgame, but the key to getting someone to open it is all about the subject line.
The subject line is the invitation to the party. You want it to be clear, catchy, and a reason for the editor or writer to want more info about this exclusive, VIP party.
In other words, you want to deliver that the FOMO feeling.
While there’s not one way to create the perfect subject line, there are multiple ways to give off the be-in-the-know vibe. Here are # ways to write subject lines that will hook ‘em and get your pitch read.
Keep it simple and to the point
Editors and writers get bombarded with pitches All. Day. Long.
You want to stand out through the piles and piles of emails, but keep this in mind, less is more.
A subject line with five or six words that’s direct is better than a subject line that’s a sentence long. The subject needs to be eye-catching, scannable and conversational.
When writing the subject line, think about what it is you’re trying to convey.
Are you trying to share tips, introduce a new product, share statistics, provide quotes? Think of something that is different than other pitches, like the standard, 5 Ways to Improve Running.
Sorry, everyone says they know how to improve running. So instead, what’s so different? Is it a specific technique?
Share that information.
Also, consider using attention-grabbing words like:
Q&A Opp (short for opportunity)
If you use these, follow it up with something specific.
Journalists get hundreds of pitches a day, and if there’s no suggestion of a story or angle, no explanation of how it can fit into broader trends, then you just missed the opportunity for them to open the email.
You hate spammy emails, so avoid creating them.
Don’t make your subject lines a promise that might not work out. Like, Make a 6-Figure Salary in a Month! Spammy and what does it provide?
Avoid using exclamation points, claims and terms such as "free" or "click here."
Using numbers in a PR pitch can help to catch journalists' attention and leading to coverage.
If your client conducted a survey of 1,000 business owners on productivity and a healthy lifestyle, use the data to pitch.
For example: 73% of business owners see employee happiness and productivity increase.
A data-driven PR approach can be an effective way for journalists to read your pitch and contact you back.
Make it personal
Do your research on the topics the writer/editor covers.
If they are all about FinTech, would it really make sense to pitch them about the latest pop-up restaurant? No.
Find the topics they cover and find a story that fits their beat.
You can use their name in the subject line and something around their coverage.
One of the best ways to get your emails read, at least I’ll read them, is to form a relationship with the journalist.
Introduce who you are, maybe meet for coffee.
Instead of just pitching a story, build something first. This way you may have more access to the journalist instead of just email.
You can shoot them a text (of course once the bond is formed) letting them know you have a story idea and wanted to get their feedback.
Share what it is
This ties back to keep it simple and to the point.
Let the person know what it is you’re trying to pitch. As an example, I received this subject line for a pitch: Must-Have Dream Gear, Samples Available
But what is the gear? Why do I even want to bother testing it? Is it for a specific sport, season, male or female?
I just skipped right over and went on to the next email subject line.
What may have caught my attention would have been: [Brand] Must-Have Dream Gear for Trail Running Spring 2019, Demos Available.
From that subject, I would know the brand, sport, season, and demos available. Since I cover that sport and need to know what’s new each season, I would have been more likely to click on the latter.
Regardless of the industry, you work in, pitching to a journalist or influencer can have its challenges.
Don’t be afraid to send a follow-up email with the subject line Follow-Up.
I also appreciate those who call and leave me a voicemail after a few email attempts. It at least grabs my attention.
Remember, these are just a few ways you can use subject lines to help set your email pitches apart from the rest.
Good luck and have fun!
Are your pitches on point?
About the author
Fara Rosenzweig is the founder and chief content officer of Fit Creative Media and is a health/fitness writer/editor based in San Francisco, CA. Her love for storytelling earned her an Emmy Award and has been seen in many other publications, such as Runner's World, Women's Running, Refinery29, Active.com, and MyFitnessPal. Follow Fara on social media @fjrose.