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Most media pitches are sent by email, so how do you make sure YOUR pitch gets opened? It's not uncommon for journalists to receive 200-500 emails a day. Who has the time to open and read every one and still get their job done? Nobody!
That's why the delete key can be a reporter's best friend. Grab 'em with a good subject line or your carefully crafted pitch will hit the virtual trash can.
Personally I like a pitch that says it's a pitch in big letters – PITCH -right up front. That way I can prioritize my email reading. Also if I know the person who is pitching or the organization, that name goes next – Nancy XY or Z Clinic – then a short catchy headline-style teaser such as "New Cure for the Summer Blues." (I made this up. I don't know if there is such a thing as the summer blues so please don't steal my line.)
Most email programs will preview display about 50-70 characters so keep it spare and to the point, but strive to be accurate. Don't mislead. If it's nothing new, don't say it is NEW. And don't go for empty hype such as DON'T MISS THIS MIND-BLOWING EVENT or YOUR EMMY-WINNING STORY IS HERE.
I also like using the telephone first, even though you'll probably get voicemail. Tell them you are sending an email pitch with the subject line (whatever) and give them a fascinating quick line or two about your story. If you've raised their interest, they'll be looking for that email and it will get opened. Now you're one step closer to getting on the air.
(I just started using the Zemanta.com free plug-in for firefox so you'll see some supposedly related articles noted below. Don't know if I like this tool yet, but I'm hoping it makes research and image gathering for my blog posts easier and gives you, my loyal reader, more value. Let me know what you think.)