This is an interesting question that has been brought up numerous times by public relation professionals. As a provider of tools for PR teams, we were keen to find out the answer, so we decided to investigate.
The Research: 1 Million Email Pitches
By talking with a lot of PR professionals, attending conferences and having conversations with journalists, we noticed everyone is doing email pitches in a different way. Some are using text-style emails with compelling headlines while others are sending stunning visual email templates to support their story. (And it turns out that yes, adding visuals to your press release does make a difference to whether it gets read.)
Trying to find answers to some of the recurring questions “do you attach the entire story to your email?” or “do you include all the visuals in your email?”, we found out most decisions were made using “soft” arguments such as emotion, previous experiences or gut feeling.
Yes, gut feeling.
While it’s notoriously difficult to decide how to measure PR engagement, we thought we’d take it a step further to see what really goes on. We set out a challenge to use both qualitative and quantitative research to come up with an answer to that question.
Labelled vs Unlabelled
There are a lot of different ways to add the press release label to your email subject line, for example:
For the purpose of our study, we count the subject line as “labelled” if it includes the term “Press Release”.
What do the numbers say?
The average open rate of “labelled” press release emails is 2% higher than their “unlabelled” counterparts, while looking at the click rate, we don’t see a substantial difference.