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By Emily Oakes, Bianchi PR Intern, Central Michigan University (May 2019 IPR Graduate)
As a PR professional, creating and distributing content is one thing; getting journalists to use it is another, especially with reporters receiving more than 25 email pitches – and often hundreds of press releases per day.
The big question is: How do I get my pitch opened? Agility PR Solutions, which maintains a popular global media database for PR pros, reviewed 4,453 pitch distributions, deciphering what practices and formats caused email pitches to yield the highest open and click-through rates. This data showed that certain approaches proved to be more effective than others.
Here is a summary of Agility’s findings and how they can help your team:
Top Open Rates
The first step to getting your pitch noticed- entice the journalist. Many of the pitches with the highest open rates included similar attributes, down to the day and time journalists would view them.
• Maintain subject lines that are between 60 and 75 characters in length. Additionally, when it makes sense, reference a previous email.
• Send pitches through a personal email address. Journalists are not exempt from favoring a familiar, friendly name. This is why using a PR firm that has long-term relationships and is known and respected with your key media targets is helpful.
• Send on Mondays during late afternoon; 3:53 p.m. is the new 9 a.m. sharp. While this is a good rule of thumb, if you know your reporters’ specific schedules and how they operate, submit pitches and press releases when you know they’ll notice them.
• Pitches with very few recipients scored the highest open ratings, however, depending on the type and timeframe of your pitch, your amount of receivers may fluctuate. Breaking news will call for a larger pool of reporters as oppose to a local feature story.
• Keep your distribution lists up-to-date, organized and relevant. Aligning with certain journalists’ realm of expertise makes it easy for them to pick up your pitch or press release. Additionally, reporters are more willing to read-through your email if you show them you care; following and interacting with their social media feeds lets reporters know that you pay attention to their publications and won’t send them irrelevant content.
• Send a second email for every pitch. With the amount of content reporters receive, a quick check-in won’t hurt to make sure your material doesn’t get lost in the shuffle.
Top Click-Through Rates
Motivating journalists to not only open your email, but to also click-through it, is the next obstacle. Agility found a mix of tactics PR professionals employ to help the writers to go one-step further, and hopefully, choose their message.
• More than half of the top click-through distributions consisted of releases that were copied-and-pasted into the email. Journalists need information and they need it now, so this works better than links to releases or attachments.
• Links to additional info, graphics, video, etc. can be clickbait. There was a slight preference for company websites, YouTube videos and Dropbox or Google Drive folders for additional hi-res images or videos. Supply journalists with more than enough content; press releases, images of all shapes and sizes, videos, quotes, articles, etc. Journalists are more likely to act on a pitch if all the information they need is in one spot. Attach as few or as many links as you want, but these four are goldmines for journalists.
• The most clicked-through emails featured upwards of 800 words. The more information and resources you provide the journalist, the better.
• Follow-up within a week of your initial message. Journalists receive hundreds of emails a day, so ensuring your story wasn’t overlooked can prove victorious, especially if you include updated or additional information.
Overall, journalists are eternally under deadline pressures, regularly juggling several tasks at once. Our role as practitioners is to smoothly hand the baton of information to these busy beings. Employing these strategies when emailing journalists allows us to both be more effective.
For more information on the study, visit: www.agilitypr.com.