Sarah Whelband | Yoo hoo! I’m here! – How to grab a journalist’s attention
Journalists receive hundreds of emails every day. Yet, they’ll probably only write an average of two stories. Which means that if you’re emailing them a press release or an email to encourage them to write about you, it’s got to be something special to capture their attention and not get sent straight to the deleted items folder. So how do you ensure you’re writing a winning pitch? Of course, it’s never guaranteed, but if you follow these tips, then you’ll be putting yourself up there and giving yourself the best chance to be picked out from the crowd.
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Yoo hoo! I’m here! – How to grab a journalist’s attention

26 Aug Yoo hoo! I’m here! – How to grab a journalist’s attention

Journalists receive hundreds of emails every day. Yet, they’ll probably only write an average of two stories. Which means that if you’re emailing them a press release or an email to encourage them to write about you, it’s got to be something special to capture their attention and not get sent straight to the deleted items folder.

So how do you ensure you’re writing a winning pitch? Of course, it’s never guaranteed, but if you follow these tips, then you’ll be putting yourself up there and giving yourself the best chance to be picked out from the crowd.

  • Start by ensuring you’re writing to the right person. There’s nothing more infuriating for a journalist who’s writing for the health pages, and you send him or her a business story. You can find this information out by simply reading the publication, or failing that, asking the person on the switchboard who the best contact is to send your email to.
  • Think about the story you’re trying to pitch. Is it really newsworthy? Will it make that 1% of stories that reach publication? I always say that it should pass the journalist ‘so what’ test. If you are able, perhaps ask a few friends what they think. If they don’t seem interested, then it’s likely a journalist won’t either
  • Ensure that it says all it needs to in the first couple of lines. In fact, the subject line should be the most important part of your email. Most journalists will only open the email if the header is enticing enough (but without being too cryptic, say what it is you want to get across!)
  • Think about using other mediums. Will a photo enhance the story? How about a video? It’ll make you stand out, that’s for sure
  • Make it easy for them. If you package a story up (add a quote, case study, photo, research statistics etc.) then you are making the journalist’s life a lot easier. If they don’t have to do much work, they’re more likely to pick your story
  • Think about an exclusive. You are more likely to attract the journalist’s attention if they know that they’ll be the only person who has access to this story and your information, and in turn, they usually give it more space in a publication, or give it more prominence on a website
  • Finally, remember that there are other ways of contacting a journalist rather than sending them an email. If that’s not working, how about Tweeting them? If time isn’t of the essence, you could even write them a letter, now how many people do that nowadays?

Above all, don’t be afraid to give it a go. If you get a response that the story’s not right, or the journalist isn’t right, make a note of it for the future. There will be that occasion that you make it through, and once the journalist then recognises your name, they’ll be more likely to open your email, as they know it’ll contain something good that’s worth reading.

If you’d like some advice on how to target journalists to get your name out there, and your brand recognised, please get in contact, I’m more than happy to help.

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