Want Your PR Pitch Read? Don’t Underestimate the Subject Line

inboxAny effective PR professional puts a great deal of thought into crafting the body of a pitch e-mail, making sure it’s informative, accurate and organized in a way that will grab the attention of the media and likely lead to coverage for clients. What many people don’t consider as carefully, though, is the e-mail subject line. This brief line of text introducing an e-mail might seem insignificant at first, but in reality it can be just as important – if not more important – than what’s inside.

The subject line is the first thing a contact sees in an e-mail pitch, making it an extremely powerful tool. It can cause a someone to form an instant opinion about you and your message before even clicking “open,” and can even prove the deciding factor in whether they’ll read the e-mail at all.

Here are some tips for creating subject lines that will help make sure your e-mail pitch is actually read and doesn’t wind up overlooked or sent directly to the trash folder.

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Peter Shankman (of HARO Fame) Comes to Chicago

Peter ShankmanYesterday afternoon I had the opportunity to attend an event hosted by the Chicago P.R. and Marketing Network. The speaker was Peter Shankman — most recently known for creating Help a Reporter Out (HARO), a free service that helps connect reporters with sources. As a competitor to fee-based ProfNet, HARO has grown tremendously since it started as a small 600-person Facebook group. Now it boasts more than 110,000 subscribers.

Peter spoke about the changing role of public relations, journalism and today’s 370 million micro-journalists equipped with camera phones and a propensity for blogging; about how social media is a tool that allows for an “easier way to screw up to a larger amount of people,” but at the same time to also better facilitate customer service; and about the Internet making it easier today to search for and investigate the wrongdoings of the “old white men” who run our country.

He also outlined five qualities of a successful business or PR professional, which I’ll detail here.

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The Downfall of Being Too Comfortable With Industry References

What does it mean?In today’s society, slang words and phrases certainly prevail.

Perhaps the most recent examples are “pulling a Kanye” (to impetuously capitalize on a moment in the spotlight in order to express an unfounded political statement), or a “Town Hall Moment” (According to BuzzWhack.com, “Sen. Joe Wilson’s tacky explanation for calling President Obama a liar during the president’s address to Congress.  ‘I had a Town Hall Moment.’ The recent healthcare town halls were known for the disrespectful behavior of some healthcare reform opponents.”) BuzzWhack, in fact, is a site chock full of interesting buzzwords and phrases. One of my favorites is “jitterati” (what the digital generation becomes after sipping one too many cups of Starbucks).

Jargon in the Office

Such slang terms are not limited to pop culture and politics, however, but also prevalent in everyday office semantics. 

For example, I recently had a conversation with a friend of mine who works for an advertising agency. She was talking about her supe and the AMD this, and the MD that.  For all I knew, she was talking about Advanced Micro Devices and her Medical Doctor.

For those not working at her company, this would be quite meaningless. Just for clarification purposes, “supe” referred to supervisor, “AMD” was Associate Media Director, and “MD” was simply Media Director. 

“We also use jargon all the time in terms of media math,” she explained to me. “Instead of thousands, we speak in MM and M.” In their digital department, she further explained that there is a whole dictionary of words that you won’t know unless you are working in that specific division of the company. “If you’re not in the field you probably won’t hear the words,” she stated.

This is where she’s wrong, however. At Walker Sands, we work with a variety of industries and don’t necessarily have direct contact with some of these slang terms or acronyms on a daily basis. Just as our clients oftentimes need to clarify certain terms for us, we likewise have to do the same with journalists. 

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An Adventure in BtoB Blogging

This morning I attended the second part of the Chicago Chapter of the Business Marketing Association‘s social media round table. The speaker was Mike Volpe, a marketer who is really on top of the Web 2.0 world and is doing great things with his company, Hubspot. The main discussion in this morning’s presentation was about leveraging social media and various web tools – such as blogs – for BtoB Marketing.

At Walker Sands, we are currently going through this journey. If you’re here, you are looking at our new blog – Footprints. We started this blog just weeks ago and I am proud to say I am writing the 31st post. We have been very active on our blog. We are putting up posts with great thoughts, but are of course hoping to expand to leverage our blog for new business leads.

This morning’s presentation by Mike Volpe really put some things in perspective for me that I would like to share with all of you. These ideas will help those of you walking down this path with us and hoping to start a blog or better develop your blog to promote sales leads and ultimately assist your business’ bottom line.

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Featured Marketer: Kyle Berry, Director of Marketing, Emmi Solutions

We’re launching a new monthly feature on Footprints in which we interview some of the top marketing minds who, everyday, deal with the same issues that you do. They are dealing with ever increasing pressure from sales, new emerging technologies, and a desire to continue to produce results in the changing economy.

Kyle Berry Marketing DirectorOur first featured marketer is Kyle Berry, Director of Marketing for Emmi Solutions, a company that “helps patients make sense of complicated medical information”. My understanding is that if I’m about to undergo heart surgery, I want to know what’s going to happen. My doctor prescribes an Emmi program to show an interactive engaging web-based program of exactly what’s going to happen, discussing the risks and providing me with the ability to document questions for my doctor, thus easing my fears and answering many of questions I’ll have. Pretty cool stuff.

We’ve been fortunate to work with Berry on a few projects and he’s one of the most talented marketers we know. Here, as he transitions to a new role at Emmi Solutions, he agreed to sit down and chat about what’s made him successful.

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Footprints Blog

Visit the Walker Sands website. We specialize in PR and marketing services for technology solution providers and B2B companies. Walker Sands Digital offers a wide array of digital marketing solutions and helps firms to get the most from their online presence.
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