So you think your inbox is out of control. Spare a thought for the editor of your favourite publication who is likely getting hundreds of cold pitches every day, with no inbox zero in sight…
As a PR, it’s your job to cut through the noise and get editors to take notice of you – but how? We asked some of the best editors in the biz what makes them sit up and take notice when a brand or PR reaches out to them.
To DM slide, or not to DM slide…
According to Yeong Sassall, Head of Brand at Vogue Living, email is always the preferred method of communication (just make those subject lines sing!). She says, “email, then a follow up email a few days later if it’s urgent or there’s a time component. Following up the next day, especially if there’s no real urgency, can be too much.”
What about a phone call follow up? Lauren Sams, Fashion Editor, Australian Financial Review, says no thanks. She says, “please don’t call me to follow up. If I haven’t replied, there is a reason.”
Sassall agrees. She says, “I generally only welcome phone calls from PRs with whom I’ve built an existing relationship, and same with social media DMs.”
Annie Brown, Head of Brand (digital) at Vogue Australia says, “most journalists hate a phone call to follow-up on an email pitch. Especially if the email was sent an hour beforehand. But we understand that you need a response. It’s best to follow-up with an email before a call.”
What about social media? Editors are infinitely more visible now, thanks to Instagram, but does that mean they want you sliding into their DMs on the regular? It can be a good way to start the conversation, according to Sassall, but email is still always preferred. She says, “we do get cold called on social media a bit, but if you can move it to email quickly after that it’s much preferred.
And what about a quick text on the weekends? Just. Don’t. Straight from the horse’s mouth (Sassall); “please don’t call/text/DM on weekends or after-work hours expecting an answer!”.
Creating a killer email subject line.
There’s a lot riding on that one little line of text. It’ll likely make the difference between whether your email gets opened, or if it’s relegated to the deleted messages folder.
Stand out with “exclusive content, relevant news-y angles, experts available for commentary,” says Sassall. And make sure every single email you send is personalised and that you understand what the publication covers. “I can’t tell you how many emails I get from PRs who don’t realise that Vogue Living is an interiors title, not covering beauty, bridal or fashion.”
The death of the smash cake.
Sending a physical sample or press kit isn’t as necessary any more, according to Melissa Singer, Fashion Editor of SMH / The Age. She says, “it’s useful but not essential. There is a lot of clutter in the world and receiving products that aren’t relevant to my area can be a turn-off more than not receiving anything at all.”
The power of personalisation.
Lauren Sams says, “send me something new, exclusive and relevant” when asked how a brand could stand out in her inbox. Melissa Singer wants a “well-timed, well-executed pitch, not a barrage of generic releases/EDMs” to get her attention.
Annie Brown says, “One surefire way to annoy a journalist is to pitch them a story that makes it clear you’ve never read the publication they write for or are not familiar with the journalist’s byline/the round they cover. Pitching a dog food brand to a luxury fashion magazine or a designer brand to a blog about frugal fashion finds shows you don’t understand the publication’s target market and will be be ignored or declined.”
The overarching message? Write something personal, and don’t spam. Life lessons.
Tell Your Story
Above all else, have something to say. Singer says, “everyone thinks their story is worth telling – and it is. But that doesn’t mean our readers will care, and at the end of the day our job is to entertain and inform our readers”. The key to a great PR pitch is to tell a story you know an editor’s readers will be interested in. Sams says, “Storytelling is very important. For us at the AFR, a great brand story is one that resonates with our financially motivated and highly educated audience. Tell me about a former investment banker who is now making luxury heels, or a management consultant who figured out a way to create mushroom leather”.
Image source: JAG, sourced via Flaunter.