5 Tips to Writing a More Effective Subject Line for Your PR Pitch

Pitching is one of the most important parts of a PR pro’s job—but it can be tricky. Journalists receive dozens (sometimes even hundreds) of emails every day, so you need to work hard to make sure yours stands out and gets opened. Whether you’re pitching client news, an interview with a subject matter expert, or a product review, your best chance of success is crafting an intriguing subject line that will make the journalist want to know more.

Here are 5 tips to writing a more effective subject line for your PR pitch:

  1. Pay attention to word count

When writing the subject line for your PR pitch, the general rule of thumb is to keep it short and sweet—but what people mean by “short” can vary. Some experts recommend capping your subject line at 6-10 words, while others say you can get away with up to 20.

If you’re not sure which rule to follow, consider your target audience: Will they be checking their email mostly on a mobile device? If so, it’s best to keep the subject line on the shorter end, so it’s easy to read on a small screen.

For a general rule, keep your subject line to just one line—anything more will be too cumbersome and get lost in a full inbox.

  1. Think about the journalist’s beat

One of journalists’ biggest complaints is receiving PR pitches that have little to no connection to what they actually write about, according to Cision.

First, make sure that you’ve done your research and are contacting the best person to write the story. To show journalists that you are familiar with their work and are pitching something relevant to them, be clear in your subject line. If you try to cast a wide net by being vague, you’ll most likely end up getting deleted.

Instead, be specific with your wording to show journalists that you understand their beat and have something to share that’s of value to their readers.

  1. Use keywords

Everybody gets bored slogging through their inbox. To catch the eye of a journalist, your pitch’s subject line needs to be relevant and punchy.

Co-founder and CMO of Sleeknote Emil Kristensen says the most effective keywords are those that invoke emotion and curiosity, like “improved,” “exclusive,” “announcing,” or “know.”

Using just 1 or 2 of these powerful keywords can help your pitch stand out in the middle of a journalist’s cluttered inbox.

  1. Don’t go overboard with keywords

Read that last sentence again: Using just 1 or 2 of these powerful keywords can help your pitch stand out.

While punchy keywords can go a long way to helping your subject line spark interest and your mail get opened, too many keywords can have just the opposite effect.

Look at this subject line: “You Won’t Believe How Insanely, Crazy Popular This Widget Is—Read On For More!”

Putting too much zeal in your subject line can make it look like clickbait and land it in the SPAM folder. Be mindful to use enough keywords to generate interest, but not so many that you’ll end up bruising your own credibility.

  1. Use your past relationships and contacts

Another way to make your PR pitches stand out in a journalist’s inbox is to remind them of your past relationship or contact with them.

Have you worked with them or another relevant contact on a past opportunity or story? Journalists won’t remember everyone they’ve ever worked with, so pointing this out in your subject line (like “I have another COMPANY NAME story for you, would love to tell you more”) can help jog their memory and get them to open up your pitch.

Still not getting the response you want from journalists? Check out The Art of the Follow-Up Pitch for more tips on pitching.

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