In 2011, the marketing world experienced a paradigm shift. The bullhorn of outbound marketing began losing efficacy as inbound methods skyrocketed overnight.

google trends content marketing

As content marketing took off, publishers began seeing an onslaught of pitches from companies trying to secure press in this new digital age. How do you as a business owner stand out in all of this noise?

Fractl and BuzzStream partnered up to survey 500 top-tier publishers on pitching best practices. In our survey, we discovered that 85% of editors open an email based on its subject line.

Knowing that the subject line acts as a gatekeeper to getting press, we followed up on our survey to discover how we could improve subject lines to drive open rates. We combed through our data and came up with nine tips that will help you secure more press.

1. Know your target.

60% of publishers told us that the best subject lines should be tailored to their beat. 50% agreed that you should do this by being both specific and descriptive. Improve your open rates by getting to know your contact's work, then highlighting elements from your campaign that directly relate to their interests.

best practices for pitching publishers

2. Keep it short and sweet.

40% told us that subject lines should be as concise as possible, and 75% agreed that "concise" means between 1--10 words. While it may be tough to whittle down your words, the bonus to brevity is that your subject line won't get cut off in inboxes.

3. No clickbait.

Sensationalism and sales jargon are not welcome in the inbox of busy publishers; nearly 100% agree that your subject line shouldn't look like clickbait. Don't tell them "You won't believe what we found!" or that your pitch is "Revolutionary!" or "Life-changing!"; odds are, they'll pass on that bait without ever reading your hook.

4. Highlight your assets.

65% of publishers are interested in data visualizations, but a whopping 85% want raw data along with your pitch. Try listing a unique statistic in your subject line, then elaborating that the data is included with a format like "Kylie Jenner posted 451 selfies to Instagram [Celebrity Selfie Study]."

tips for pitching influencers

5. Remind them you've worked together before.

If you have previously worked with a particular writer, you may have an advantage. More than two-thirds of respondents said a subject line reference to a past relationship would be more likely to entice them to open an email. But don't forget that the uniqueness and relevance of your ideas are still the most important aspects of your pitch right now, regardless of whether you've worked together in the past.


You formatting should be professional. 70% of publishers told us they are never OK with ALL CAPS (the Internet equivalent of yelling) or emoji, and 80% said they were only rarely or sometimes receptive to exclamation points. Another reason to avoid these tactics: all caps and excessive exclamations are both red flags for many spam filters.

7. Don't pester publishers.

If more than a week goes by with no reply to your pitch, you might want to send a short reminder in case your email got lost in the shuffle. But 87% of publishers want 1-2 follow-ups at most; any more than that and you run the risk of being seen as a spammer.

8. Be familiar, not phony.

In your research to better target your contacts, you should take note of their beat, the tone of their writing, and their personal interests. 55% said they will often or almost always be receptive to emails that reference something you found in their bio, but you should avoid appearing overly friendly or aggressive. Editors want contacts who appear to do their homework, not those who appear to be potential stalkers.

9. Don't slack on good practices.

Tempted to send a mass pitch or save some time by not crafting tailored, thoughtful pitches? You might want to reconsider. 30% of publishers have blacklisted more than three people this month alone due to bad pitches, and more than half have blacklisted at least one person. The consequences of blacklisting affect more than just your specific email address; some servers will block an entire domain once one contact gets added to the list.

pitching influencers

Improve your subject lines and you'll see improvements in your placement rates. With these insights straight from the publishers you want to connect with, you're equipped to cut through the noise in their inbox and earn their attention every time.

See more insights from this study, including the verticals that get pitched the most and least, in our free white paper, 21 Tips For Pitching Publishers And Writing Exceptional Subject Lines.