How to write emails journalists will actually read

How to write emails journalists will actually read

Most journalists get hundreds of press releases and email pitches every day – many of which get deleted unopened. Here’s how to write an email pitch to a journalist they’ll actually read.

1.Use the subject header to ‘sell’ your story

A concise subject header that summarises your story (ideally in ten words or less) is far more likely to get a journalist’s attention. Resist the temptation to use puns or clever wordplay though; an obscure headline that doesn’t mean anything to a journalist may get ignored.

Let’s say you’ve launched the world’s first disposable wetsuit. While you might be  tempted to write something like ‘UK business surfing the wave of fashion’ …this doesn’t tell a busy journalist what your story is about.

Much better to say something like ‘UK company launches first disposable wetsuit’.

2.Skip the introductions

When you’re pitching to a new publication or programme it’s tempting to give a long introduction that explains the background of your business or brand. Although this might sound harsh, journalists aren’t interested in you or your business – they’re interested in great content. So get straight to the point – you can fill in the background later in your pitch.

3.Get your ‘top line’ in the first line of your pitch

Summarise your story idea in the first line of your pitch (ideally in ten words or less – you can even repeat your subject header) and you’ll have a much better chance of getting journalists’ attention.

4.Use an informal, conversational style with strong, visual imagery and examples

Imagine you’re telling a friend about the idea and you should have it about right.

5.Don’t include attachments

Post press releases in the body of an email instead. Like most of us, journalists generally aren’t keen on opening attachments from people they don’t know (nor do they have the time). If they want more information, they’ll ask for it.

6.Offer images if you have them 

They don’t have to be professional, but they should be good quality.

And here’s what your entire pitch might look like. It’s an approach you can use (and adapt if necessary) for any kind of pitch including guest blogs, podcast interviews, speaking opportunities and other guest content.

7. Add your bio at the end

Unless your biography is integral story e.g. you’re an anti-smoking campaigner who’s just launched a brand of cigarettes, leave your bio until the end.

Here is the whole pitch:

Did you find this useful? Get my FREE five-part email pitch template.