Last week I attended a Business Wire event on green technology; geared towards entrepreneurs, ad agencies and PR folks. Among the four panelists were two reporters, an editor of an industry site, and an analyst covering the space. As the session turned to Q/A, the obligatory question on how members of the audience should pitch them was asked.
Interestingly enough, all four panelists indicated that email was the preferred method for receiving a pitch.
I find the concept of a PR pitch much like “old-school” link building. While one could argue link building emails are not the most effective way today, they can still be a tried and true method.
It didn’t really surprise me when I heard some of the panelists’ replies and in coordination with their feedback, here are some of the ways I’ve had success getting site owners (and publishers) to read my email requests.
- Try to be Personal
I always try to find the name of the person I want to contact. In addition, it’s important to learn a little bit about them as a professional before engaging. Sites like Twitter and LinkedIn can be invaluable for research but I also make a point to read a few of their blog posts or articles as well.
- Subject Lines Matter
Contrary to what one of the panelists said, I don’t believe “Hi There” would work as a subject line but I do feel that crafting a solid subject line matters. In many cases, if a site publisher does not know or recognize your name, the subject line is the only reason they’ll open your message, so make certain it will (positively) attract their attention.
- Keep the Message to the Point
Don’t send long-winded messages. Get right to the point of how you found them, why you are writing and what you/your site has to offer. I prefer sending press releases or supporting text as attachments rather tham copying/pasting the details right into the message.
- Explain How You Can Help Them
…as opposed to why they should help you. If they take the time to open your message, make sure to quickly explain the value their audience will have in connecting with your site.
- Attach Relevant Links
Give the person two or three important links to review which support the objectives of why you are emailing a request. And don’t just link; explain why each link is valuable or relevant as well
- Attach an Image or Video
I’m pretty sure all the panelists saw value in this idea. If you can give someone audio or visual, it can certainly be appealing. At the least, it helps make your message stand out a bit more when making the decision to open or delete the email.
- Create a Campaign
A member of the audience talked about how they invite media to their location for a live demo as a way to draw interest. While it was conceded that this might be a considerable time investment, the key takeaway is there can be more value than what’s provided in the email correspondence. Put a plan in motion to offer more once you’ve caught someone’s attention and they’ve responded to your request.
- Maintain Flexibility
Don’t stick to one email template. Your messages should be tailored to the particular site owner or publisher that you would like to secure a link or a response from.
- The More Valuable the Opportunity…
The more time should be spent in the process. Have a link building checklist for what would make an inbound link from one site more important than another. Once you’ve established the most valuable opportunities, take more time in exploring their content, social networking and media exposure, and tailoring a specific link building strategy.
One final tip outside of the actual link request: don’t be afraid to fail. In fact, in many cases, your requests will be deleted or left unanswered. It certainly takes time and creativity to craft a message that will stick.
Fortunately, social networking tools like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and blogs actually make this process easier. If you’re able to establish a positive connection ahead of time, the likelihood of an email request being opened and responded to will increase significantly.
What do you think? How valid are email requests in your link building campaigns and if so, what tricks can you share with others that have lead to success? I’d love to hear your thoughts via the comments below.