Emailing your pitch to a reporter? Make sure you follow these simple rules of etiquette:
- Quit with the caps in the subject line. Trying to show excitement in the subject line? Let me assure you that using all caps is not the way to do it. Let’s forget the whole idea that caps are considered yelling in the world of messaging. Even more than that, you need to remember that reporters’ inboxes are filled with spam. And a subject line with all caps is going to scream spam to them. And even if it doesn’t… well, it’s just plain annoying.
- Nix the exclamation points. Excessive exclamation points are the mark of a novice writer. People seem to think that by using them repeatedly, they will convey how interesting and exciting their news is. However, much like the caps, using too many exclamation points is plain irritating. And not to mention, when you use them repeatedly they lose their value. However, one or two well-placed exclamation points can add that excitement you’re looking for. Just place them wisely.
- Put the best info in the subject line. It’s plain rude to waste a reporter’s time. And if your email title offers them nothing, then it’s sure to get deleted. That said, make sure that your email subject line gives them the most important information. Don’t make them work to find out why they should listen to your pitch, because they won’t, whether due to lack of time or plain arrogance. Whatever the biggest “so what” part of your pitch is, make it as plain as day before they even have a chance to click.
- Spell check. For real. We’re past the days of excuses for misspellings. Our email basically does it for us. Even if you don’t click the spell check button, it usually underlines the misspellings. Failing to correct tells the reporter that the email isn’t very important to you.
- Don’t get fancy. I never understood peoples’ fascination with email backgrounds and fonts. To me it just seems plain juvenile. Because it is! Look, when you start changing text color and adding graphics and all that, all you’re doing is distracting them and making your pitch more difficult to read. They aren’t interesting in your cute fonts. Just get to the point. And for God’s sake, don’t use Comic Sans.
- Make sure your attachment is actually attached. “Please find the attached document…” means very little if the attached document isn’t actually there. You’re already extremely lucky the reporter even opened your email, much less tried to download your attachment. And if your attachment isn’t actually there, odds are when you figure it out and resend, they aren’t even going to bother looking because they think you’re incompetent.
- Say no to emoticons. Another way to get on a reporter’s nerves and appear like a newbie. Look, the idea here is for them to take you and your pitch seriously. But let’s be honest here: who is going to take someone seriously that follows their signature with three smiley faces? Keep that to the texting you do with your friends.
- Be polite. You aren’t entitled to jack. That said, be humble and polite. Say “please” and “thank you.”
- Don’t send multiple emails. Following up is fine and all, but if you don’t hear back, sending emails to see if “they got your pitch” is not only useless — it’s spam. So if you’re looking to get blacklisted, go ahead and break this rule.
- If they respond, make sure you return the favor. They emailed you back? Great! Now what? Did they ask you a question? Do they want an interview? Whatever they requested, do it immediately. They were kind enough to take notice, so don’t make them wait for it.
Can you think of any other rules to email etiquette I should add to my list? Fill me in!
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Grab your free 160-page copy of the Big Press Release Book – Press Releases for Every Occasion and Industry here: http://www.ereleases.com/insider/bigbook.html