Inbox etiquette: How to write a snappy subject line

write snappy subject

PR pros have to compete with hundreds of other emailers if they want to grab a journalist’s attention when they mail a pitch or media release.

That’s why it is important to have a snappy subject line that jumps out of the inbox — and won’t get marked as spam.

Here’s how to create the perfect subject line:

Lead with your hook

Journalists receive story ideas and media releases all day, every day. Think about what makes your story stand out and lead with the angle.

Tackle inbox obstacles head-on and avoid the guillotine

If your subject line runs over 50 characters, chances are the journalist’s inbox will chop off the end. It’s like the trap door opening mid sentence.

Aim for five to seven words. Like a good headline, write it in the active verb tense or future tense to create a sense of immediacy. It will also make it easier for your reader to understand if they are quickly scrolling through their inbox.

Don’t be mistaken for spam

Subject lines that are written in all caps or include multiple exclamation points (two stylistic sins) will increase the chances of your message getting lost in the spam box sin bin.

Pose a question – or chance a joke

An interesting (and relevant) question will focus your reader’s attention and entice them to look for the answer.

Depending on your organisation’s voice, a pun here or some wordplay there is good way to get your message noticed.

Politely command them to open your email

Sometimes a straightforward command — “Join us on this date”, for example — is the best way to make your subject line stand out.

This article first appeared on is Ireland’s largest and most dynamic media intelligence company, with contacts to more than 7,000 journalists on our database. Since we started in 2009, we have helped Ireland’s best known brands connect over 100,000 stories with the media.

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