This is a post by PR columnist, Alison Kenney.
As a P.R. pro you know the challenge of writing a successful email pitch that stands out and convinces its recipient to take action. The last thing you want is for your email to be ignored or labeled spam.
I’ve come up with 7 questions P.R. pros should ask themselves before hitting the send button on their next email pitch:
- Is this a job for PR? Sometimes P.R. is tasked with something – say, launching a new company — that requires involvement from many other departments. In these cases it’s important to consider what advertising and other marketing efforts are being done to support the P.R. effort as it can affect the angle and tone of your pitch and provide you with perspective to make the right “ask” in your pitch.
- Is email the best way to tell this story? The answer could be “yes” if you have a reasonable number of targets. Surveys of reporters have found that the media prefers email as the #1 way to communicate with P.R. but they are also sticklers for email that’s “on target.” Do you have the resources to draft well-researched, personalized email pitches to a wide number of media targets?If the answer to #2 is “no,” then is there a better way to “go wide” with this story? Alternatives to sending individual emails could be putting your story in press release form and using a wire service or using social media tools to tell your story.
- Do I need to create a relationship with the media to tell this story? The truth is that not every reporter wants a relationship – sometimes they just want to get that product snapshot for their spring column and be done with it. So…No, you don’t have to “build relationships” or know everything about a writer or follow them on social media before sending them an email pitch. Notice, however, I didn’t say that you get a pass on researching the media and targeting your pitch to the right audience. Especially if your story isn’t a no-brainer or if your client doesn’t have any brand recognition, then, yes, you really need to put in the effort to research and find an angle to tell and sell your story.
- How comfortable am I with the accuracy of my media list? How well do you know the contacts on your list – when was the last time you read their work? Did you research the names yourself? If you bought the list or built it from a database, did you verify the names, contact information and beats? Yes, this is time-consuming work, but it is critical to the success of your pitch.
- Will the recipient recognize me? Of course, sending email pitches “cold” can be tougher than reaching out to people who already know you or who are expecting to hear from you. Some P.R. pros publish an opt-in newsletter in which they provide insider tips, introduce relevant sources and plant seeds for stories to recipients interested in a specific industry. Others bring in partners with specific industry experience if they’re lacking it themselves.
- Will the recipient think this is spam? You’re not a mind-reader and can’t foresee every reaction but you can proof-read your pitch before sending it to gauge whether it’s personalized and relevant. You can also do small tests to see which messages resonate with particular audiences and create different versions of the pitch that highlight different key messages.
Alison Kenney an independent PR practitioner with more than 15 years of PR consulting experience. She is based on Boston’s North Shore and has worked with organizations in the technology, professional services and consumer industries. She writes a bi-monthly PR column on LindsayOlson.com. You can find her at www.kprcommunications.com. Learn more about Alison Kenney.