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Any tips for using e-mail to send press releases?

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Answer: As the saying goes, when all you have is hammer, everything looks like a nail. Such is the case with e-mail. It is pervasive in all corporations and an often preferred method of contact by editors, reporters and analysts. As with any e-mail program, corporate PR e-mail starts with considering the needs of the audience. These same media magnets are inundated with e-mail press releases every day. If you want your important news to get opened—and, more important, get covered—follow these best practices:
  • Stop including the entire press release in the body of the e-mail. Research reports you have less than six seconds to capture attention in the preview pane. Press releases can average five or more paragraphs. Instead, include a teaser of the release and a click-through to a hosted version on your Web site.
  • Don’t include attachments. They can be deliverability killers. Corporate e-mail filtering systems are often more stringent in their rules than even the largest ISPs. Attachments from outside sources are often confused with viruses or attacks. Leave data sheets, photos and other release-related attachments to an expected, person-to-person e-mail so you’ll be ensured they get delivered.
  • Think carefully about “from” and subject lines. Remember the rule: The “from” line tells the recipient whether or not to delete the e-mail and the subject line tells the recipient whether or not to open the e-mail. If an individual at your company has a relationship with the media, test using that person’s name in the “from” line instead of the company name alone. Write an engaging subject line and include first name personalization. Recipient first name personalization has fallen out of widespread favor in the b-to-c e-mail world, but in b-to-b, it’s still another way to catch the recipients’ attention.
Once the e-mail gets opened, the relevance of your message takes over. Just because the media recipient list may be smaller than your customer retention or acquisition lists doesn’t mean relevancy rules don’t apply. If your message isn’t important to the recipient, you’ve lost their attention today and maybe in the future as well.

Tricia Robinson-Pridemore is VP-market and product strategy for StrongMail Systems (www.strongmail.com), a provider of e-mail marketing solutions.

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