3 Hacks for getting reporters to open (and read!) your pitches

Hello? Is this thing on?” 

“My email must not be working…” 

“Anyone? Bueller…? Bueller…?”

These are the mantras of those new to PR, but grisled public relations flacks know that rejection is just a part of the job. Not all of your pitches are going to hit with every reporter every time.

I’m no psychologist, but I have been on the “other side” of the pitch process. I’ve been on the receiving end of pitches as a reporter and editor, and I know how I like to be pitched… and especially how I don’t like to be pitched. 

Using this insider knowledge, throughout my PR career I have discovered consistent keywords and visuals that resonate with the journalist psyche. As with all PR outreach, it’s about knowing your target audience, what they cover and the types of stories they’re interested in writing. But it’s also about adding a little ja ne sais quoi to stand out from the copy-and-paste pitches that are bound to be ignored. 

FREE PR Tips from a Subject Matter Expert

Like moths to a flame, people are drawn to receiving a good or service for FREE. You might notice that I keep capitalizing FREE like that, and it’s because it makes an exciting thing even more exciting. See this pitch here…


This pitch, sent with additional detail to multiple reporters at once, generated at least two PR hits within an hour of sending. That’s the power of FREE, baby! 


(Do) Get Cute With It!

Subject lines determine if your pitch gets opened or ignored. A reporter doesn’t worry about jamming every piece of information about a story in a headline, and you don’t need to fret about doing the same in a subject line. Just get them to click! 

Here’s a pitch we sent out about a new restaurant opening… 


I don’t know about you, but I don’t often think of food as “sultry.” (Not everything is a chocolate covered strawberry!) Knowing the client’s cuisine lived up to that promise, I included that unusual descriptor in the pitch subject line. The media went bananas for it, often using it in their own coverage. 


Emojis… Somehow They Work?! 🧐

Here at TJA, we like to do what’s called “business to human” marketing, and sometimes that means putting a human face on our pitches. And sometimes that human face is actually a bright yellow cartoon face with a monocle. 

Taking marketing tactics from sales emails I always seemed to open, I started using emojis in the subject line of select pitches. Surprisingly, they work! Plus, they add a little personality to otherwise standard-looking emails. Like this one…


Emojis might not be appropriate for pitching all types of clients, but in this instance it was. And it paid off! At least three outlets picked up this information. 

Of course, these tips aren’t all there is to doing PR. Public relations is part art, part science and part luck. These strategies may help your pitches stand out, but they should also be a part of a comprehensive public relations strategy that identifies the messages you want to convey to your audience. Want expert advice from our PR pros? Contact The James Agency today! 

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