Spammer or Contact: Which Are You?


Claire from Wild West Communications, who’s made a recent career change into PR, has cunningly written to ask me to address the topic of subject lines.

I say “cunningly” because I’m not really sure she gives a damn what I have to say about them, but in our brief exchange she’s done what every sedulous PR should try to do: she’s established a rapport.

It didn’t take much – a kind word about my writing, a hint of self-deprecation, a friendly but still professional tone – and she stands out from the crowd.

I now know and will remember her name and will most likely continue to open her emails. She hasn’t hit on an angle that piques my interest yet, but perhaps it will come. At least she’s in the running.

And it seems to me that that is the most important step, far more so than getting the right subject line. It may sound harsh but journalists tend to divide PRs into two categories - spammers and contacts – and you’d far rather be the latter than the former.

The spammers you recoil from, with their relentless drip of impersonal and irrelevant releases. Pretty soon you learn to delete their emails without a second glance (or even add their names to your auto-delete filter - names and addresses on mine available to the highest bidder).

Contacts on the other hand are the ones you bring business to when building a story. It takes time to reach that position, but as they say, every journey starts with a single step.

And next week, Claire, I promise I’ll get on to subject lines.