How to write a subject line for your pitch email

The very first thing a journalist will see from your email is the subject line. As such, it is your chance to make a strong first impression and get your pitch approved.

In fact, a survey from BuzzStream indicates that 85 per cent of publishers will open pitches just based on the subject line.

To improve your chances of your pitch email being a success, here are some useful tips.

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Keep it concise

Remember that each device has its own character limit before cutting off a subject line. As such, you want to make the subject line as short as you can, so it does not get cut off on any device.

Keep it specific

You need to find a way to make your subject line specific and concise. Adding a few extra words for the sake of specificity will be worth it, as long as you still keep it reasonably short. Remember that your goal is to grab attention, and a vague topic will not do so.

As you craft the subject line to make it specific, try to focus on the people involved. Instead of leading the pitch with what is great about an organisation, focus on a specific story of a person doing good.

Avoid something simple, such as “story idea” or “my pitch.” Not only will the journalist have no idea what to expect, reducing their chances of opening the email, but your email will be indistinguishable from hundreds of others in their inbox. If they do like your pitch, what are the chances they will be able to find it again with such a generic subject line? You also need to use caution to avoid phrases that could increase your chances of getting flagged as spam, such as “click here” or “free.”

Keep it relevant

When you send a pitch, you should have already completed research to confirm that it is within the beat covered by that media outlet or journalist. You want your subject line to show this relevance, as this lets the journalists know that you are not wasting their time. Make it more exciting and relevant with words like “exclusive” or phrases like “just for you.”

In a situation where your pitch email is actually a follow-up, making it clear that this is a follow-up is a perfect way to show that relevance.

Keep it professional

Professionalism is key in your subject line for a pitch email. That means avoiding using all-CAPS, too much punctuation, or emojis. You want to make a strong, professional first impression, and including any of those things would detract from that impression.

Include numbers

Data always attracts attention, as it gives media outlets or journalists something specific to work with. If you have statistics or raw data, go ahead and include that in the subject line. This lets the reader know that you have figures that can attract attention. It will also appeal to them since it slightly reduces their work, as your data provided a starting point.

Proofread it

As with anything you send in a professional environment, be sure to proofread your email subject line (and your full email) before you send it. Remember that a simple mistake like a missing comma may dramatically change the meaning of a sentence. Additionally, spelling or grammar mistakes will reflect poorly on you and the quality of your pitch. The journalist may assume that if you cannot be bothered to proofread a subject line, you would not take the time to carefully consider your pitch.

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The bottom line

Once you have put in the time and effort to painstakingly conceptualise your pitch, you want to ensure you complement it with the right subject line. Think of this as another part of your pitch that deserves careful attention. Follow the industry best practices, and always remember to treat the journalists you email as people.

If you’re curious to learn more about public relations or want to speak to a SYNC consultant about starting your brand’s PR journey, contact us at [email protected]

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