Easy Media List staff
Updated October 15, 2019
Today, journalists rely on email, texting and other online communication tools to do their jobs. When you need to contact the media with your press release or news alert, email is almost always the best way to begin.
Here are the most important things to know about sending a press release via email. How do we know? We talk to writers, editors, news directors, and publishers every day as part of our work producing Easy Media List and sister service Mondo Times, the worldwide news media guide.
Needless to say, you want your email message to be opened, to be read and to spark interest. In the worst case scenario, your email might not even get seen by a living, breathing person, because a computer program filtered it out. Many newsdesks have automated systems called spam filters that are designed to prevent junk mail from reaching inboxes.
To avoid getting filtered, don't use any kind of attachments with your email, either documents or images. And avoid phrases that give the impression you are selling something, such as "why pay more" or "money back guarantee." Just as important, never ask for money -- including requesting donations to a worthy cause. Your job is to offer editors and journalists interesting story ideas.
Sending your press release as an attachment to your email message (for example, as a Microsoft Word document) is a fairly common and very big mistake. Many news media outlets (and many other organizations) will not accept email that contains attachments, because they can contain computer viruses.
So forget the attachments. Instead, simply copy your text and paste it into the body of your email message. It's also best to stick with "plain text" and stay away from special text formatting in your message.
And you should send images only to people who have requested them, or who already know who you are and what to expect from you.
Email marketing services (bulk email senders such as MailChimp, Constant Contact, Emma and many others) are a useful way to stay in touch with people interested in your business or charity. But they are not a good choice for publicity because editors and journalists are not your fans, followers, customers or members.
Public relations is not direct marketing. That is, you are not trying to convince journalists to buy or support your product or service. You are aiming to convince them to write an engaging story about what you do.
News media email servers sometimes reject email messages coming from email marketing services. Avoid this problem by sending email from your own domain. And never add an editor or journalist to an email marketing list without their permission. It's a quick way to alienate them.
The subject line of your email is the most important part of the message, and it can make or break your email publicity campaign. A good subject line will give the editor an instant feel for what your press release is about, so she can decide if your story offers a good fit. There is always debate about what makes a great subject line, but it definitely needs to be concise, free of spam words, and engaging to the recipient. If you have a strong press release headline, use it in the email subject line.
This one's easy -- DON'T TYPE IN ALL CAPS! It's annoying, hard to read and suggests that you don't know what you are doing.
We are frequently asked "How many emails should I send out at a time and how many a day?"
It's best to send each email individually and to address each one to a specific person. This is much more effective than doing "mass emailings," because we all appreciate personal attention and like to be addressed by name.
Sending your emails one by one is time consuming but highly recommended. It also gives you the chance to personalize your press release email with special comments to the recipient (for example, why the press release might appeal to readers or viewers of the media outlet).
If you must send email in groups, this is one way to do it. Take a group of email addresses, separating each with a comma, and paste the group into the blind carbon copy ("Bcc") field of your email message. Placing the emails as a group in the Bcc field will prevent the multiple recipients from seeing who else received the message. Usually, people using this group mailing approach will put their own email address (the one they are sending from) in the "To:" field of the group email. This is necessary because an email cannot be sent if it does not contain an email address in the "To:" field.
In terms of how many email addresses to include in a group email, there are no fixed rules but it is best to keep the groups small. We generally recommend sending groups of no more than 20 emails at a time, based on Internet service provider guidelines, but these guidelines vary greatly from ISP to ISP.
Keep in mind that if you send a group email, you always run the risk that the message will be blocked by a spam filter. This is because spam messages are often sent to many recipients at once.
As far as how many emails to send per day, that again depends on your ISP. Some ISPs limit the total number of email messages a user can send each day, but that number varies from company to company. It could be as low as 100 a day, and up to 500 or even more. If you send too many email messages per day, you could be categorized as a bulk emailer or spammer by your ISP and even have your account suspended until you resolve the issue. So if you are sending a lot of mail, it's best to spread out your email campaign over a number of days.
Remember that competition for the attention of journalists is great -- an average newsdesk receives hundreds of emails each week. Following these guidelines will dramatically improve your chances of getting noticed, and getting coverage for your story or event.
You can find more publicity tips and ideas here at Easy Media List.