Mar 14, 2006

Pitching to Reporters (via Email)

A couple of days ago we posted a link to Guy Kawasaki’s blog, where he interviewed Adam Lashinsky (senior writer for Fortune magazine) about how to pitch story ideas to reporters.

It’s a good interview, but it didn’t cover emailing pitches to reporters.

So we sent Mr.Lashinsky a few questions for our MonkeyBrains audience…

Here’s the real reason we contacted Mr. Lashinsky. We’ve read in the past that reporters absolutely, positively, hate email press releases. And they hate HTML email press releases even more. But that was so long ago. Is it still the case? And would it be worthwhile for our MailChimp customers (or any email marketer) to setup an opt-in list on their website "to receive company news and email press releases?" Or are reporters so overwhelmed with email pitches that they never bother subscribing to them?

With that in mind, here’s what we asked Mr. Lashinsky:

Q: How badly do you, as a reporter, want to punch someone for sending you unsolicited email  press releases? I’m hoping the answer is "extremely."

A: I really don’t mind unsolicited emails at all. Much better than a phone call, which I hate. I scan and delete all day long. So it’s no big deal.

Q: As a reporter, do you ever subscribe to email newsletters or opt-in to receive press releases from companies?

A: I do. Certain big companies have me on their press release list. And again, I appreciate it. It’s not difficult to delete the emails. I subscribe to quite a few opt-in lists myself.  Things like the New York Post business section and Venture Wire. Same thing. Very easy for me to scan and delete.

Q: Are you totally bombarded by useless press release emails?

A: Well, yes.

Q: If you actually do read email pitches, do you prefer HTML email, or plain-text?

A: Six of one, half a dozen of the other. (No, I don’t have a preference.)

Hmm. So maybe reporters don’t hate unsolicited pitches via email afterall. Keep in mind there’s a HUGE difference between sending one email to a reporter vs. "blasting" an unsolicited press release to a whole list of reporters. The first one is email. The second one is spam (check out this recent example of a PR agency that spammed a blogger).

But it does seem like reporters definitely prefer email over phone calls (read the Guy Kawasaki interview to get insight into how much "noise" reporters put up with).

Email’s simply more convenient for reporters. Email marketers can take advantage of this by creating opt-in lists on their websites that are  specifically for the media.

Examples of Opt-in Lists Built for the Press

You might want to setup a separate "Press Room" opt-in list for your own company. Here are some examples you can use for ideas: