How to send killer email pitches to journalists and bloggers and get published

Photo by rawpixel from Burst

When it comes to journalists and bloggers, they're always busy. They don’t have superpowers. They're not harsh when they seem to ignore your email pitch. They don't have enough hours in the day to respond to everyone.

So if you’re a PR person or you’re simply a creative who would like some exposure, there are ways you can get noticed. Read the following tips on how to send killer email pitches to journalists and bloggers, and successfully get published.

Find out what they want

I can’t emphasise this enough – find out what the journalist or blogger wants and give them that. It’s so simple. It just involves a little effort on your part. Now I know what you’re thinking – it’s an obvious tip. But no, it’s not. I would say 85% of all email correspondence I receive is from people who haven’t even bothered to do their research.

It might be laziness. Or ignorance. Whatever the reason, if you want a response to your email – understand this: journalists and bloggers get bombarded with emails and are very busy. Make their lives as easy as possible by supplying them with precisely what they want.

Do some thorough research

Don’t know what they want? Most bloggers supply FAQs or submission pages to help out – and most online magazines do the same. If you’re researching printed media, sometimes it’s a case of calling the journalist and asking them what they want, developing a relationship that way.

Another useful trick is to pick up the newspaper or magazine you’d like to be featured in and seek out any regular feature opportunities. Take FX Magazine as an example – it runs a regular ‘Forum’ piece where someone from the design industry shares an opinion piece on something relevant. Why not put yourself forward as a potential interviewee for similar opportunities?

In Creative Boom's case, there are various ways to get coverage on our online magazine. You have to take a look at the content we share to determine what would and wouldn't work on our site. For example, we share inspiring work from the fields of art, crafts, graphic design, illustration and photography. Everything is very visual, so we always ask for images at least 1,200 pixels wide, and we request that images are of the highest quality.

But we also share interviews and are always on the lookout for suitable candidates.

Like with any magazine, you have to get to know the content and then send similar things or suggestions.

Consider the small criteria

Before you send that pitch email – double-check on any specific requests. For example, if a journalist likes to receive high-resolution jpegs that are at least 3,000 pixels wide and would prefer them sent via a DropBox link – do that! If they'd prefer you to copy and paste a press release into the main body of the email, rather than send as an attachment – do that! If a blogger requests certain things added to the subject line of your email – so they instantly know what section of their website you'd like to be featured in – do that as well!

Look at the little things that will make all the difference on whether your email succeeds and grabs their attention, or finds its way to the trash.

The more you put in, the more you get out

It's all too easy to create a generic email and fire it out to every single media contact you have, but it won't necessarily get you anywhere. Emails such as these tend to look like spam and aren't very personal, so often get overlooked or deleted.

Yes, emailing every single media contact might seem daunting and time-consuming, but in my experience – the more effort you put in, the more you'll get out.

So when doing your research on what each blogger or journalist wants, use your findings to create bespoke pitches to each contact. Make it personal and rub their egos. Say things like: "I loved that post you wrote last week regarding Joe Bloggs... so I thought you might like to interview so-and-so as well...". By making more of an effort, you'll have a better chance of winning them over and getting published.

Write powerful, attention-grabbing subject lines

Journalists and bloggers tend to scan their inboxes and pick out anything that grabs their attention while deleting anything that looks boring or like spam. In which case, make your subject lines enjoyable. Write titles that will spark their interest.

It's you're only chance to stand out from the crowd. Avoid saying 'important' or 'press release for your attention' – because who cares? Write a punchy, enticing title, and you might get lucky.

Get straight to the point

While it's nice to write introductions in your emails, try to resist waffle by keeping things clear and concise. Journalists and bloggers don't have time for niceties, so immediately get to the point to grab their attention. You're more likely to win them over if you respect their lack of time.

Still not getting a response?

Guess what, you’re not special. Drop the ego and don’t be offended if a journalist or blogger doesn’t respond immediately, or at all. It's not that they don't care. It's just that they have to be ruthless with their inbox and sift out what's interesting or relevant.

If you're not getting a response, why not reassess your technique and find other ways to reach out? Could you engage on Twitter and build a relationship that way? Could you stop sending press releases and start sending feature ideas. Don't, whatever you do, go down the horrendous route of repeatedly emailing journalists and saying things like: "I'm just checking that you got my email...?" and "Sorry to email again, but did you get my dozen emails last week?". You get the point. Remember you're dealing with people and hassling them will only make things worse.

If all else fails

If your emails still aren't getting through, you've followed our advice, and you're still not having any success – try to meet the journalist or blogger in the flesh because nothing beats meeting someone in person to establish a good relationship.

For example, Charlotte Rose is the new in-house PR officer at illustration agency JellyLondon.com, and she offered to take me for a coffee when I was next in the Big Smoke. I met up with her last week, and we had a lovely chat, talking about Creative Boom and what I needed. As a result, she now knows my magazine inside-out, knows what I'm looking for and – as we've met face-to-face – I feel a sense of loyalty towards her. I'm also planning to publish various things regarding Jelly in future.