In today's spam-filled email world, it's sometimes VERY difficult to get your news releases and PR pitches to the media person you are trying to reach. These tips hold true for personal emails, too, so even if you don't do P.R., this article offers some important email tips.
Here are a few ideas to help you be more successful in reaching your target.
1. Write the release with spam filters in mind.
There are many words that trigger spam filters these days. Learn to write alternative words, substitute zeros for Os or add * in the word to avoid the spam trap. You can find out which words are likely to be a problem in this excellent list provided by Dr. Wilson: http://www.wilsonweb.com/wmt8/spamfilter_phrases.htm
2. Check your content to see what your spam filter rating is.
There are free sources to check your email. One of them is Lyris Content Checker ( http://www.lyris.com/contentchecker/), which checks it against the SpamAssassin database.
3. Send each email individually, not as a CC or BCC.
The CC function allows everyone to see who you sent your email to so you definitely don't want to do that. The reporters will get irritated when they see you have sent it to all of their competitors. As my grandmother used to say,"It's better to keep some things to yourself."
The BCC function allows you to hide the list of recipients from everyone who receives the email, but it doesn't hide it from the email programs and filters. These programs know that you are sending a BCC message to a list, and if you send it to 10 or more, it will automatically trigger the spam filter.
You can send your emails efficiently from many database programs. I use ACT! and it allows me to not only send to a group, with each email going individually, but it also keeps track of what I sent to whom.
There are also systems available, like the one I use to deliver my ezines (which comes with my 1ShoppingCart.com service), designed to send hundreds and thousands of emails all at the same time. And the best thing is, you can tailor your release to add personal details about each recipient, such as their name and the industry they cover. I use my shopping cart to deliver my newsletters, but you can also use a service like ConstantContact for this.
4. Include the recipient's name in the subject line.
When someone sends me an email that begins, "Lois,...", I pay attention. I know that this person either knows me or I have subscribed to their ezine or asked to have them communicate with me for some reason. And I NEVER report these people as spammers. If I don't want to continue receiving information from them, I politely unsubscribe or email them to take me off their list. Think about it. You respond better when someone uses your name, don't you? It's a terrific way to get someone's attention.
5. Include [News] or [Pitch] in brackets at the beginning of the subject line.
Again, you need to give the reporter an easy way to spot your news as legitimate. So tell them up front you are sending them news or a pitch and watch your email delivery rate soar.
6. Include the reporter's column or beat in the first paragraph.
A reporter is always going to pay more attention to your pitch if you are one of their faithful readers. If you start out your email with something like, "Jane, in last week's Cooking for One column, you said...", you will surely get the reporter's attention.
7. Include all your contact information
Nothing's worse than getting an email that you want to respond to immediately and having no way to contact the person except by email. Give the reporter all your phone numbers. And don't forget your physical address and website domain. Make it easy for them to contact you.
8. Never include any attachments.
Unless you've been living in a cave without Internet access, you know that attachments are the way that most worms and viruses are spread on the Net. Windows XP strips off most attachments, and most corporate entities don't allow attachments to come through their systems. They can even get you blacklisted so your emails cannot get through. So don't be stupid. Don't send attachments unless someone asks for them.
9. Provide a link to your website to download photos, graphics, graphs, bios and other background information.
Just about anything that you need to deliver to a reporter can be uploaded to your website. You can include product photos, people photos (remember to make them 300 dpi for print/ 72 dpi for online and in various sizes, so that the media can choose which size they want to use), bios, background information, sample chapters, and even an entire digital book. If the reporter wants you to send the product or a physical book, then you'll have to mail that, of course.
10. Always include a subject line, but never put "Hi" or"Hello" in the subject line, especially alone.
Emails without subject lines are usually spam, and those that say hi or hello are usually viruses, so no one is going to open them. Be thorough. Include a subject line.
11. Follow CAN-SPAM rules and allow an easy unsubscribe method to your email list.
Even if you don't include a one-click unsubscribe, you should at least include a statement that tells the reporter how they can get off the list or let you know that their beat has changed. A simple statement that says, "To get off this subscriber list, simply hit 'reply' and put 'remove' in the subject line" will suffice. And don't forget to include your name and address.
Lois Carter Fay, APR, is a 30-year veteran in the P.R. and marketing field. She now produces three marketing ezines, Brainy Tidbits, Brainy Flash, and Success Secrets of Women Entrepreneurs. All are free.
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