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How to write an outreach email that gets links

Jack Bamfield

Jack Bamfield

June 19, 2019

Subject line

The subject line is the most important part of the outreach email. With some journalists at national publications writing eight to ten articles per day and receiving anywhere upwards of 100 emails a day, catching their eye with a newsworthy and noticeable subject line is essential. The idea is to make it as close to a useable headline for journalists. Here is an example from one of our more successful campaigns – ‘On Location‘:

“Look Familiar? These are the most-filmed locations in California”

The headline is short, punchy and is likely to entice the journalist to open the email to find the information they are looking for. We often vary our approach depending on the target publication. For example. using simple language and popular tabloid phrases such as ‘revealed’ often helps our open-rates with tabloid journalists. The subject line below helped us get national coverage from the Sun and Daily Express for a recent campaign:

“(Data) Revealed: London has UK’s most affordable fuel prices”

It is also important to make it clear what you are offering to a journalist from the outset. If you are pitching content to be used as a listicle, make that clear in the subject line. The sign of a great subject line for our team is when the journalist uses it verbatim as the headline for their article.

Opening lines

It is important to get to the point of your email as quickly as possible, setting out the basis of the article in the first few lines. The opening lines should include the most newsworthy aspect of the story, as well as a concise explanation of the information you are pitching. Below is an example of the opening of the email for ‘On Location’ I highlighted above:

In three lines, this email clearly sets out what the journalist needs to know about our research. We compiled IMDb film location data to find the most popular locations for movie scenes around the world, and that Venice Beach is the most-filmed location in California. The most important points are listed in bold to help the journalist spot the story quickly.

Our team usually take three to five lines in an email to give the journalist the essence of the story in the campaign. If this appeals to them, they are more likely to read on.

The link

Our outreach team prefer to be direct when asking for a link to a campaign. We make it clear that we are offering something of value to the journalist, and they should link to our asset for the story to make sense.

We use the line, “Please credit via a link to our campaign page”, as it makes our request clear without it being too forceful. It also saves us vast amounts of time having to reclaim links for articles where journalists have used our story and/or assets.

Main body

Now is the time to introduce the substance of your research, and to provide the journalist with all the information they need to write the article. There is no set rule to how much content to include, but you should include any relevant data that you think would be important in an article.

Writing clear headings with colour-coding can also be an efficient way of helping a journalist sift through the body of your email to find relevant information. Here is an example of a recent email we sent out for a campaign around AI Jobs:

 Top 5 outreach tips

  1. Write the subject line to match your target publication, using a tone of voice similar to that of the journalists at that news outlet.
  2. Keep the subject line simple and state the most newsworthy aspects of your pitch.
  3. Get to the point of the story as quickly as possible in the body of your email.
  4. Break-up the content of the email so you are not overloading the journalist with information and blocks of text.
  5. Sign-post headings and sub-headings within the email so a journalist can clearly see what you are offering.

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