Quality & genuine links are more important than ever and can be hard to come by if your company doesn’t generate a lot of publicity on its own. As a public relations student at Kent State, a portion of my study is dedicated to learning what people want and how to give it to them. So, we’ll do just that as I break down the process of writing the best e-mail pitch you can to earn those links your quality content deserves.
1. Subject Line
Take time to write a quality subject line. It’s the first thing a person sees when checking their inbox. It should be unique, descriptive, and most importantly it should break through the “clutter” to catch their intention. Try to provide a tease of your content to prompt them to open it. You can also try relating your content to a popular current event to add relevancy.
*Expert tip: Create cognitive dissonance (the feeling of discomfort that results from holding two conflicting beliefs) in your subject line to compel the recipient and almost guarantee a read!
Address the person as what he/she is most commonly referred to online. Don’t try to use a nickname if you have no personal connection, it will come across as fake. If the person is in a high level position, using Mr. and Mrs. or Ms. might be appropriate, but is not required.
If this is your first contact with the person, now is the time to provide a brief (and I mean brief) background on you and your company (link to website upon mention for easy viewing). We’re talking one to two sentences here – the email isn’t about you.
Now you’re ready to hook them in. Show interest and display knowledge in the person and their work by reading their website and following on social networks. Know what types of stories the person is prone to writing about. Use this to mention something of theirs in the email – it could be a blog post, a tweet, a Facebook update, anything of relevance.
Next, we can get to the reason for your email. This is the item you’re pitching – an article, a white paper, a new app, research findings, an event, whatever (make sure to include the URL here too). Explain to them what it is and most importantly why it is something to care about – a solution to a problem the site’s audience might have, a free contest to win a relevant item for that demographic or new and exclusive info on a product or industry. Focus on the “What’s In It For Me” for both the owner of the website and its audience.
Once you have pitched your item, it’s important to prompt a call to action. This is the desired result you seek – a tweet with a mention, a link on the blog, a write-up/interview, etc. Ask if it’s something of interest and if he/she would consider doing so. Be open to any ideas that person may have and do not come across as demanding. You’re asking for a favor and owed nothing.
Write that you will be following up (with email, phone call, etc.) and include a time frame for doing so. Let the person know to not hesitate to contact you with any questions and provide the best method to do so. Thank them for their time and genuinely show your enthusiasm for the future relationship.
- Give them all resources needed to execute your call to action – links, images, social media, contact, etc.
- Be short & succinct. Make every word count and avoid fluff. The entire pitch should be no more than a couple paragraphs.
- Use links, not attachments, especially if it’s first contact. Attachments are how viruses spread and will scare away the recipient.
- Build relationships! Relationships are the key to successful link building. Let them know this isn’t just a selfish pitch, but you are interested in working more with them, for the benefit of both parties. This includes following and interacting on social networks and blogs.
**I’d like to thank my Kent State PR professors for passing on some of these best practices I continue to find useful. As well, a credit to the Fathom resources which I’ve pulled from.