You know that getting publicity is vital to the health of yourbusiness. You probably also know that e-mail is the way mostpublicity seekers get in touch with reporters to score thatprecious coverage. Here’s what you don’t know: The vastmajority of e-mails sent to journalists never get read.

Bottom line: if your e-mails don’t get read, you have no shot atgetting the publicity you so desperately need.

Here's how to beat the odds:

Avoiding the Spam Trap

To a spam filter, your humble e-mail pitch may appear to containan array of trigger words and suspicious phrases. A server thatrelayed your message may be on a blacklist - a "do not open"list of known spammers. Or perhaps the filter’s having a toughday and has decided to start blocking things arbitrarily. Youcan’t prevent every instance of spam blocking, but you can takesome steps to help lessen the chances of your e-mail ending up ina black hole.

The most important step is learning how spam filters think, andcreating e-mails that avoid the usual pitfalls. Fortunately,you’ll find that -- once you can do this -- many spam triggersare easily avoided.

Rather than taking up space here with all the how-to’s, allow meto simply direct you a terrific site on the subject:

Getting Your E-Mail Opened & Read

After beating the spam filter, next up is getting your e-mailopened and read. The key: the subject line. No matter how on-the-money your pitch, a subpar subject line will kill any chanceof getting the reporter’s attention. You’ve got one shot atgetting your e-mail opened, make the most of it with a killersubject line.

Here’s how to do it: 1) Place the word "News" or "Press Info" or"Story Idea" at the beginning of your e-mail subject line, inbrackets e.g.: [Story Idea]:

2) Try to incorporate the reporter's first name also at thebeginning of the subject line.

3) If you know the name of the reporter's column, for instance"Cooking with Linda", also try to incorporate that. One morething -- if the reporter doesn’t write a regular column, try toat least include their beat (e.g. Joe, re: your future pieces onthe wi-fi industry).

With these three tips in mind, a successful e-mail subject linemight read:

[Story Idea]: Linda, Here's a Tip for Your "Cooking with Linda"Column

That’s a heading that will stand head and shoulders above therest.

Here are a few more e-mail do’s and don'ts: Do:

* Make the information you place in the subject line short andto the point. Often, reporter's e-mail software cuts off thesubject at only a few words.

* Don’t get cute or be too vague in your subject line. Forexample "Here’s a Great Story!" is vague and sounds like spam;"This Will Win You A Pulitzer!" will make you look silly (unlessyou’re delivering the scoop of the century, of course!).

* Try to make your most newsworthy points at the top of your e-mail message - don't expect a reporter to scroll down to find thenews.

* Include your contact information, including cell phone, e-mailaddress, regular address, fax number & website URL at thebeginning and end of the e-mail.

* Include a link to your website if you have additionalinformation such as: photos, press releases, bios, surveys, etc.


* Include more than a short pitch letter or press release in thebody of your e-mail.

* Allow typos or grammatical errors.

* Include an attachment with your e-mail. In this day and age ofsinister viruses, reporters automatically delete e-mail withattachments.

* Place the following words (by themselves) in the subject line:"Hi", "Hello" - the media's spam filters will pounce anddestroy.

* Send an e-mail with a blank subject line.

A cool tip: Use Google News ( to search forrecent stories that have appeared relating to your industry orfield of interest. Then, e-mail the reporter directly (use asubject line such as Re: Your July 5th piece on electric cars).Give positive feedback on the story and let him know that, nexttime he’s working an electric car story, he should get in touch,as you’re an expert with provocative things to say. Give acouple of supporting facts to back up the assertion, include yourphone number and web link, and ask if he’d like to see a fullpress kit. This technique really works!

Author's Bio: 

Bill Stoller, the "Publicity Insider", has spent two decades asone of America's top publicists. Now, through his website, eZineand subscription newsletter, Free Publicity: The Newsletter forPR-Hungry Businesses, he's sharing -- for the very first time -- his secrets ofscoring big publicity. For free articles, killer publicity tipsand much, much more, visit Bill's exclusive new site: