Writing a great press release about your story is only half the battle. Getting it published is just as difficult, if not more so. Knowing how to pitch journalists (which means sending them an email about your press release) correctly is crucial to getting your news spread by the media.
Table of contents
- Double-check if your press release is written correctly
- Who do you send your press release to?
- When should you send your press release?
- What should your press release email include?
- Press release email example
- How should you follow up on your press release email?
Double-check if your press release is written correctly
It’s no use trying to find the best way to email journalists your press release if there’s something fundamentally wrong with the way it’s written.
Press release structure
Make sure your press release follows the proper structure:
- Headline: a taster of what you can expect.
- Lead: a brief overview of the story, including answers to the questions: Who? What? When? Why? With what effect?
- Body: an explanation of the information provided earlier in the lead, starting from the most newsworthy info to other less important, background info.
- Dateline: to confirm that you’re providing the most up-to-date information.
- Company info: a short paragraph about your company to help journalists understand the nature of the business and make writing about it easier.
- Media contact information: author or company’s/agency’s contact information.
Make sure your topic is actually newsworthy
This is something that’s often overlooked. If you have some company news that you’re excited about, it doesn’t necessarily mean everyone else will be too—or at least to the same extent.
If you want to get a journalist to cover your story, it’s worth asking yourself these two questions:
- Is my news actually newsworthy?
- Is my news presented in an exciting way that people will get people interested?
If it’s not, it might be worth waiting until you have something that actually is newsworthy, or you could make a bad first impression with the media contacts you send your press release to.
Additionally, support your story with rich media such as photos and videos to make your news more attractive and eye-grabbing.
Note: if you’re using a “wire” type of press release distribution service, adding images may cost extra.
Grammatical errors and typos
Even if your press release contains everything it should, a typo—or even worse—a major grammatical mistake, can seriously damage the trustworthiness of you and your news.
Double-check your press release with a grammar-checker such as Grammarly, or ask someone from your team that you trust to have a second look.
Who do you send your press release to?
Theoretically, this is obvious, but in practice, you get the impression that some PR companies send notes randomly without any plan or consideration.
The fact that a journalist is on your media contact list does not mean that you have to send everything to him or her.
Only industry-related information should be sent to editorial offices covering particular industry-related topics, while the ones related to a city or region should be sent to local editorial offices.
In the media, individual journalists have their own specializations (referred to as a “beat”). Instead of sending your press release to the general email address of a news outlet, it is best to address it to the person most interested in whatever subject you’re writing about.
What if your list of relevant media contacts that that could be actually interested in your story is lacking—or even worse—empty?
With Prowly, you can access a Media Database with over a million contacts, and use smart recommendations based on the contents of your press releases. This way, you’ll always pitch relevant journalists that are likely to be interested in your story.
It has free search access for 7 days, so you can try it yourself and see if it’s worth paying for.
When should you send your press release?
If you’re writing a press release about an event or a product launch, remember to submit your press release to the media early enough so you have time to get coverage before your event or product launch. Keep things in mind such as when your ticket sales end and time your release accordingly.
It’s also important when journalists receive your press release email. Recently we analyzed over 55470 press releases sent in 2018 and 2019 with Prowly and checked when respondents opened them.
The best day to send a press release
You’re probably thinking Monday when everyone is feeling crisp and relaxed after the weekend.
The best day to send a press release is on Thursday when the average open rate jumps to over 26%! The worst days are Wednesdays and Fridays when even 85% of your emails get lost in the journos’ inboxes.
Which hours are best for sending a press release?
The best time to send a press release is between 10 am and 2 pm—this is when editors open about one-third of all the emails they’ve received.
Early mornings are less effective: open rates drop to 20.5% between 6 and 10 am. If you do decide on the early morning, however, we recommend waiting at least until around 8 am or 9 am.
What should your press release email contain?
There are various approaches to constructing a pr pitch. Since I started my PR career, I’ve seen dozens of different email types: from overflowing with text to nearly empty, with just an email footer and a press release attached. No matter which format you decide on, a pr pitch email should always provide just enough information to engage the recipient.
3 methods of writing a press release email
Here are three easy ways of writing pr pitches that you should try out if your click rate is too low and you’re aiming for more media presence.
1.) The short & concise method
Probably the easiest one, but often the most time-consuming—to make your email look authentic, it should never be based on the copied & pasted parts of your press release.
You should write your email from scratch, include all the key information (Who? What? Where? When? Why? How?) and throw in 1-2 quotes used in the press release (if possible).
Such an email is basically a condensed press release, allowing editors to start working on the piece of news right after reading the email body.
2.) The bullet method
Some time ago, we’ve asked our fellow editors about their favorite formats of email pitches they get from PR people. One of the PR Week (UK edition) editors said that what works best for him is a short message with three-four bullet points presenting the key details about the news.
Reason? Such amount of space is enough for him to decide whether he wants to run the story or not; if you’re unable to engage a journalist using such a short form, chances are they won’t be interested in reading the entire press release.
I admit that if I had a choice, I’d love to receive all my emails written in a similar manner. It may not be easy and quick, but it’s sometimes worth to try and write down even your biggest announcement in the form of a three-bullet list.
3.) The all-in-one method
It’s good to try this method, especially if your recent click rate is rather disappointing and you want to make sure your media contacts have read the whole news.
The main part of the email body should include one or two paragraphs containing the so-called “meat”—the essence; the key details and info that should win the journalists’ attention. Next, after your standard email ending (“Regards, John Smith”), paste your press release text into a clearly separated section.
This way, most editors who open your email will also see the full story (useful when you can’t measure how many people opened the attached/linked material).
Make your subject line count
The subject line for your email is often your first point of contact with journalists and sets the tone for everything that follows. Writing a good subject line is just as important and what’s inside your actual message.
Some things to consider:
- Don’t make it too long: keep it under 60-80 characters or 8-10 words
- Don’t go overboard with trying to make your subject line witty: being direct and specific can be a good thing
- Beware of spam filters: excessive use of punctuation, capital letters, or click-bait words can mean your email ends up in the spam folder
- Mention multimedia if you’ve included them: “Video shows…” or “see how…” are all great ways to start your subject line and spark interest in what’s inside
Avoid adding attachments to your press release email
Journalists get a ton of press releases every day. Their poor inboxes are usually running out of space, so it’s a good idea to ditch the attachments.
If you’re using a PR outreach tool like Prowly, the process is a lot easier. All you have to do is throw in a link to your press release that’s located in your company newsroom, which a place where you keep all your news and press releases.
Upon following the URL, the journalist will find your press release along with any photos, videos, social media conversations, and other rich media that you added. Check it out in the example below.
Press release email example
Here’s an example of a press release email sent to journalists from Prowly, spreading the news about an internal promotion of our CMO. If you look carefully, you’ll notice it’s written using the bullet method listed above.
Below is the same email example from above viewed from Prowly, a tool that helps you find relevant media contacts and pitch them effectively to get press coverage.
By attaching your press release via an external link, your email stays lightweight, and your message short and to-the-point.
How do you follow up on your press release email?
One of the less pleasant parts of pitching to journalists is the dreaded follow up. A few days have passed and the journalist’s response is nowhere to be found.
You can almost hear the crickets chirping.
Did they read my press release? Did they open my email? Did they even get my email?
While it’s possible that the journalist has simply no intention of covering your story, it’s important to remember that journalists are, simply put, busy.
A safe way to follow up is to wait a few days and send them another email asking if they received your story.
Follow up by knowing if they’ve read your email
You’ll be able to view individual email statistics for each journalist you send your press release to, including open rates (who opened your email), click rates (who viewed your press release), and bounce rates (indicating there was a problem with their inbox).
This makes the follow-up process a lot easier because you’ll know how to approach the journalist if you know if they’ve even opened your email.
Conclusion: how to send a press release email to journalists
If you’ve made it all the way here, congratulations! By now, you should know the basics of sending a press release to journalists. To sum up, follow these 5 steps:
- Make sure your press release is newsworthy and error-free
- Figure out which journalists will be interested in your story and find their contact details
- Send your press release at the right time to increase the chances of it getting noticed
- Write your press release email: make it attention-grabbing, short & simple (and without heavy attachments!)
- Follow-up if needed