PRo Tips: Mastering the Art of Subject Lines and Follow-Up Emails 

Successfully converting pitches into media opportunities for clients remains the bread and butter of public relations professionals. So how is it done? While the body of a pitch holds significant importance, securing the reporter’s interest via the subject line is critical.  

Considering that most reporters don’t respond to the initial email pitch, the follow-up process is also important. An effective follow-up is often the difference between securing a media opportunity and coming up empty handed. 

The following tips from The Bliss Group’s Media Specialist Team detail how to write compelling subject lines and how to engage in a successful follow-up process. 

The Art of Subject Lines  

The subject of an email is like the cover of a book or the headline of an article. You must convince the reporter in just a few words to read and respond to your pitch. A subject line should strike a balance between informative and intriguing, prompting reporters to click without over or under-promising on what’s inside.  

  1. Keep it Short and Sweet 

70 characters or less (with spaces) is ideal. Be concise – you don’t need to tell the reporter everything in the subject line. It’s also important to put the most important words at the beginning. When skimming, reporters tend to focus on the first and last three words of a sentence. Assuming the end of your subject line might get obscured in mobile, focus on putting as much relevant and important information up front.               

  1. Test Subject Lines 

Because no two reporters are the same, the emails you send to them shouldn’t be either. Don’t be afraid to try different subject lines and test to see which one generates a response. One approach is to personalize the subject line by using two of the most preferred words in the English language: “You” or “Your.” For example, starting a subject line with “Your recent article on AI…” or “New resource for your readers…” might position you more favorably in the eyes of a reporter. While no subject line will guarantee a response, it’s best to tweak and edit, learning what works and what doesn’t as you go.  

The Art of Following Up 

When following up with journalists who haven’t responded to your initial pitch, it’s important to draft your message with meaning. Don’t just follow up by simply saying “Just checking in to make sure you got my previous email.” This approach can work against you.  

Relate your follow-up to current news or reference a reporter’s previous story. Employing these tactics lets them know you’ve done your research and may convince them that your client is the right source for their articles.  

  1. Be patient

Typically, you should give the reporter time to consider your pitch before following up. It’s best to wait a day or two before sending another email or making a call.  

  1. Be specific

Mention specific details that elaborate on your initial pitch and don’t be afraid to ask if they’re working on something unrelated that you could help source. 

  1. Be concise

Make sure your follow-ups are brief and to the point. Don’t recopy the full original pitch. 

  1. Be professional

Always maintain a professional tone in your communication. Avoid being overly pushy or aggressive and remember to thank the reporter for their time and consideration. 

  1. Be additive

Consider offering a specific time slot for the source/spokesperson, a new piece of data, or another intriguing item (but of course keep it short!). 

If you’re having trouble converting pitches to coverage, take time to review your subject lines and follow-up emails. Test alternative subject lines and remember to keep them interesting and simple. When following up, reporters often appreciate additional insights or previews of future announcements. This approach will position you – the public relations professionals – as a helpful resource. And ultimately, will position you and the source in a manner that is efficient and helpful for the reporter. 

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