Emailing your pitch to a reporter? Make sure you follow these simple rules of etiquette:
1. Don’t use capital letters in the subject line.
Want to show excitement in the subject line? Using all capital letters is not the way to do it. Let’s forget the idea that capitals indicate yelling in the world of messaging. 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. Even if it doesn’t, it’s just plain annoying.
2. Nix exclamation points.
Excessive exclamation points are the mark of a novice writer. People seem to think that when they use them repeatedly they convey how interesting and exciting their news is.
Much like capital letters, using too many exclamation points is just plain irritating. And when you use them repeatedly, they lose their value. However, one or two well-placed exclamation points can add the excitement you’re looking for. Just place them wisely.
3. Put the best information in the subject line.
It’s rude to waste a reporter’s time. If your email title offers him nothing, he will surely delete it. Make sure your subject line gives the reporter the most important information. Don’t make him work to find out why he should listen to your pitch. He won’t, whether due to arrogance or a lack of time. Make the biggest “so what” part of your pitch as plain as day before the reporter even has a chance to click.
4. Use spell check.
We’re past making excuses for misspellings. Our email basically does it for us. Even if you don’t click the spell check button, it usually underlines misspellings. Failing to correct a misspelling tells reporters the email isn’t very important to you.
5. Don’t get fancy.
I never understood peoples’ fascination with email backgrounds and fonts. It seems juvenile to me. When you change the text color and add graphics, all you do is make your pitch more difficult to read. Reporters aren’t interested in your cute fonts. Just get to the point. And for goodness sake, don’t use Comic Sans.
6. 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 opened your email, much less tried to download your attachment. If you resend the email with the attachment, odds are the reporter won’t bother to look because he thinks you’re incompetent.
7. Say no to emoticons.
Emoticons are another way to get on a reporter’s nerves and look like a newbie. The idea is for the reporter to take you and your pitch seriously. And let’s be honest: Who will take you seriously if you put three smiley faces after your signature? Keep that for the texting you do with your friends.
8. Be polite.
You aren’t entitled to anything. Be humble and polite. Say “please” and “thank you.”
9. Don’t send multiple emails.
It’s fine to follow up, but if you don’t hear back, it’s useless to send emails to see if she got your pitch. Plus, it’s spam. If you want to get blacklisted, go ahead and break this rule.
10. Reply quickly.
The reporter emailed you back? Great! Now what?
Did she ask you a question? Does she want an interview? Do whatever the reporter requested immediately. She was kind enough to take notice, so don’t make her wait.
Can you think of any other rules of email pitch etiquette?