Here are some examples of subject lines from PR-spam emails I have received. I write about technology, marketing, writing and aviation. Why would I be interested in any of them?
- Interview Op – How-to Burglar Proof Homes and Businesses: Valuable Advice from Security Expert Alan Young
- There’s A Reason Your Cat Doesn’t Bark – How To Find The Perfect Partner The Right Way
- RELEASE: ENTERPRISES GET FAILING GRADES IN CMO COUNCIL SCORECARD OF CUSTOMER SALES INTELLIGENCE
- Highlights from The Nation Blogs: Twice Betrayed, Survivors of Military Sexual Trauma Face Discrimination at the VA.
- Thomas Allen – Winner of SEAWARD Award – Press release
- Justified: The Complete Fourth Season arrives on Blu-ray & DVD December 17th
- AOL On Original Series – Acting Disruptive – Features Felicity Huffman and WhatTheFlicka [featuring ‘fun and easy tips on life, children, family, cooking, beauty, fashion, books and urban mom survival tips’]
Based on my experience at the receiving end, here are a few tips for PR firms:
- Add an unsubscribe button to every email so people can stop the flow of unwanted messages. This is actually in your own interests because if we can’t unsubscribe, we’re going to use spam filtering and your emails will get a bad reputation and become increasingly undeliverable. (If you have one, make sure it works. I’ve unsubscribed from several PR firms’ lists only to keep getting emails.)
- Don’t use block capitals in your subject line. Jeez, didn’t you get the memo about this in 1996?
- Use sentence case for headlines. Headlines where you only capitalise the first word and proper nouns are easier to read than headlines where you capitalise every word. So do that. Why would you make it harder for journalists to read your story?
- Keep the emails short. One paragraph and a link is all you need. A long squeeze email just confirms you’re spamming me. Yes, you get to bill the client for all those words. No, I’m not going to read them.
- Get to the point. Don’t waste the first sentence telling me you have exciting news or that your client is a good company. Tell me the thing.
- Actually read the blog or magazine. If it’s about flying, don’t send stuff about kids’ toys.
- Don’t buy bulk email lists. Try to build real relationships with real people about real shared interests. This works better for you and your clients in the long run. A PR that actually delivers relevant stories is a rare treasure. Be that person.
- Never call me to ask if I got the press release. Luckily this doesn’t happen so much any more but, good grief, it’s annoying.
(PS – PR people, if you’ve got something cool about gadgets, flying, writing, marketing or technology, then I’m listening.)