When trying to pitch a story to the media, it takes a lot of time and effort researching and coming up with compelling content to reach media outlets and target audiences. However, one aspect of a media pitch that seems to be overlooked or treated as an afterthought is the subject line. Subject lines are too often quickly put together in a rush. However, you should put just as much thought into your subject line as you do into the other aspects of your pitch. After all, your subject like is the part of the pitch that convinces a media outlet to open the email because it contains essential information. You can make a memorable first impression, and nail this critical element to ensure that your email is being read rather than overlooked.
In this article, we will look at:
- What is a media pitch?
- How to create compelling media pitch subject lines
- Best email subject line styles to increase open rates
What is a media pitch?
A media pitch is a document, letter, email, or phone call that aims to create interest in a news story to any media professional or media outlet. A successful media pitch is a great way for companies and individuals to gain publicity for their business and build good relationships with the media for potential future coverage.
For a media pitch to capture media attention, it needs to be relevant, newsworthy, brief, structured, and timely. Targeting the right media professionals is one of the first steps to creating a successful pitch. More importantly, it is essential if you want to increase your chances of getting noticed by the right audience. The media pitch being sent out should reflect the interests of the individual being targeted. Before sending out your pitch, you need to do your research and read the content that your target contacts have written in the past to see whether your story is in line with what they have already written.
For example, if a company were in the health and beauty industry, they would need to send their pitch to a media outlet that focuses on that industry. If they were to pitch to any others, they will either be unsuccessful or completely overlooked.
Secondly, your story needs to be newsworthy and focus on a topic audiences will find interesting. Since journalists receive hundreds of pitches every day, companies are always having to compete for limited space or broadcasting time. For this reason, you need to provide a different angle to capture media attention. This is true regardless of whether it is a breakthrough product or something that has never been seen before.
In addition to being newsworthy, your story needs to ride the fine line between being brief and informative. It should have all the necessary information required to create content for the media outlets. At the same time, it should not be so long that the reader gets bored or uninterested. The ideal pitch should outline details of a news story or article and explain why the product or service would be of interest to the journalist and their audience.
While it is only an outline, you can also provide your contact information in case media outlets need any additional information or want to arrange an interview. A successful pitch should also cover the critical points from a journalist’s perspective. Make sure you address the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the company and its products/services.
Answering these questions provides a starting point for the content creator to assess the potential of a story. Finally, most media outlets follow a relatively strict deadline process, especially in radio and television or daily and weekly publications. So, when pitching to a target media outlet, you need to figure out their deadlines and work accordingly. This gives journalists time to consider their pitch and put together a story.
What to avoid when creating media pitch subject lines
In your search for a fascinating subject line, it’s easy to make a mistake that can land you in a journalist’s trash or spam folder without a second glance. Let’s look at common mistakes which brands make.
Exploiting current news
Newsworthy pitches are more relatable and more attractive to journalists. So much so that this is the golden standard for brands when they’re pitching a story. While plugging into a trending news item is a good way to capture attention, you shouldn’t refer to trending news in your headline if your pitch isn’t remotely related to this news.
For example, in 2020 many brands made the mistake of pretending their news is related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is because they knew journalists were on the lookout for COVID-19 stories. However, as soon as the journalist opens your email and realizes it’s not what they thought it was, they will most likely delete the email without a second thought. To make things worse, a faux-pas like this can result in a journalist blacklisting you for the foreseeable future. The same goes for any click-bait which you include in your headline.
Using templates incorrectly
It’s true that email pitch templates can make your life easier by helping you to write a pitch which journalists will find appealing. However, in order to use your templates correctly, it’s essential to proofread your email before you hit ‘send’. Failure to do so could result in you sending an unprofessional email and ruining your chances with a journalist. For example, you could end up making the same mistake shown below:
You could accidentally send your email out with your subject line saying [INSERT ATTENTION GRABBING HEADLINE HERE] instead of replacing that placeholder text with unique content. Worse still, you might even forget to insert any subject line at all, which might result in your pitch being ignored altogether. The solution to these mistakes is to proofread your emails before they go out.
Using a long-winded subject line
Another common mistake is using a subject line that is so long that it gets chopped off in the preview pane. If a journalist can’t read the whole headline at a glance, then they are unlikely to open your email so they can read the rest of it. Furthermore, if you allow yourself to ramble in your subject line, you’re likely to miss the point of your email. Keep your subject line to 10 words at most to avoid losing someone’s interest before they’ve even read the contents of your email.
How to create compelling media pitch subject lines
Much like a narrative hook, which is a literary technique in the opening of a story that captures and retains a reader’s attention. A subject line is what draws target media outlets in to read an email. For this reason, you need to think about ways to make a memorable first impression with your subject line. A survey done by Buzzstream showed that 85% of respondents decided whether to open pitches just based on the subject line alone. If you want to craft a compelling subject line, there are a few things that you need to think about before sending your email out.
1) Write the subject line first
Authors and writers generally follow the “introduction, body, and conclusion” format because there is a flow to the content being written. The introduction is how to present the content in a piece of writing concisely and gives writers a general outline. The same goes for a media pitch. By writing the subject line first, you get the purpose of the pitch out of the way. This also gives you an idea of what you want the rest of your pitch to look like. A key thing to remember is that an email with a blank subject line will more often than not go unread or get lost in the sea of emails in a media outlet’s inbox.
2) Be specific and concise
A subject line is meant to summarize the entire message of the email pitch. Since there is generally a limited amount of space in a subject line, it should ideally be limited to six to ten words and present information that lets the media outlet know exactly what to expect. If it seems complicated, try writing the subject line and then eliminate any words that do not add value.
Sometimes, it can be more effective and more comfortable to hire professionals to create an email pitch and subject line when trying to get the word out there to media professionals. The purpose of PR professionals like those at Pressfarm is to help startups. The team at Pressfarm helps companies create content that will help them to achieve the media outreach they deserve. More specifically, the Pressfarm team can help you to create engaging email pitches, winning press releases, and creative press kits.
In addition to helping you develop quality content, Pressfarm can also help you reach the right people with this content. With a custom media list from our account executive, you can connect with the best journalists in your niche and partner with them to tell your brand story. In addition, by submitting your content to respected media outlets and startup directories, Pressfarm can increase your online visibility by helping your brand to feature in relevant search results. By working with Pressfarm, you can finally generate the publicity your brand deserves.
3) Be straightforward
There are so many clickbait emails being sent out daily. For this reason, sometimes the most effective way to reach out to a media outlet is to be straightforward with the presented information. A mistake that some companies make is trying to be creative with their wording. To be specific, they use unnecessary capitalization and punctuation marks to capture the attention of media outlets. Capitalization is considered to be the digital equivalent of yelling. Rather than giving a journalist anxiety, try to make the email as easy as possible to read. Studies have shown that emails that get straight to the point without all the embellishments also get the highest open rates.
4) Play on the media outlet’s interests
As mentioned previously, researching a target media outlet is very important when trying to pitch to them. Finding what they write about and their reporting styles can give you a clear indication of whether media outlets will be interested in the pitch. Depending on the journalist, using buzzwords or topical information related to their previous content will create a higher possibility that a reporter will open the email. Another thing to note is that you should be target specific journalists when sending out media pitches, rather than being generic.
Best email subject line styles to increase open rates
Let us now look at some types of email subject lines that can generate a higher open rate.
1) Subjects that generate curiosity
Whether or not we admit it, it is human nature for us to be curious. Creating subject lines that spark interest will increase the chances of a reporter clicking on your email. Rather than using a statement in your subject line, try asking a question that people may be interested in. This might prompt your target contact to read more so that they can find out the answer. By stimulating curiosity, you’ve just increased your open rate and boosted the chances of a journalist covering your brand.
2) Subject lines that communicate urgency
People also tend to have a FOMO case (Fear of missing out) when it comes to certain situations. Developing a subject line that creates a sense of urgency and an email that entices a call-to-action causes media outlets to consider picking up a story faster so that they don’t miss out on a great opportunity. Setting a deadline or insinuating that there may be others interested in the content causes media outlets to think about featuring your brand in a story for their audience.
3) Subjects that are personalized
Journalists like to feel special. By doing research on specific journalists, as well as their previous content, and writing styles, you can personalize your subject line to appeal to a journalist’s interests. If you speak to a journalist in a way that appeals to them, they are more likely to consider your pitch.
4) Subject lines that establish a company’s authority and expertise
Regardless of whether or not you eventually decide to send out an email pitch, you need to establish yourself as an authority in your field. While it’s time-consuming, you can build a good reputation for your brand through effective content marketing. When a journalist already recognizes your brand as a thought leader, they will be happy to share what you have to say with the world.
Creating a media pitch to capture media attention is all well and good. Even so, without a practical and attractive subject line, there is a very high possibility that your email will go unread and forgotten in the sea of pitches that media outlets receive daily. By creating a concise and informative subject line that is targeted towards a specific media outlet, you’ll have a higher chance of receiving media attention. However, sometimes it can be difficult for companies to figure out how to do this. This is where PR professionals come in. PR agencies like Pressfarm can create quality content for further media outreach. With guidance from expert writers and access to a wide media network, you can reach a wider audience with your news.