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What’s In a Subject Line?

email keyboard

Consider these email subject lines:

“Press release: First in Canada”

“MEDIA RELEASE ­ Eliminating cluttered rooms an”

“News item: Ipsos survey results for latest emplo”

While they all try to draw attention as being timely news releases, none of them really say what’s in the body of the email. The “First in Canada” email could be about a new business, but it could also be about the first time a new furniture line has arrived in Canada. As well, the way I’ve typed them shows exactly what I see in my in­box on my smart phone, which I check as often as my email on my desktop. Both the “cluttered rooms” and “Ipsos survey” are cut off because they’re too long.

Editors or producers scanning their in­boxes are less like to even look at these because there isn’t even a hint of whether or not the content will fit what they are looking to put in their publications or broadcasts.

As an editor or producer, I may be looking for content for special features, such as sustainability, small business or health. So when I scan, I’m going to be looking for those keywords. A morning show producer might be looking for a new angle to a story about bullying that has been in the news. What will they see in the email that will grab their attention?

Now let’s looks specifically at one of those emails above. The email that stated “Ipsos survey results” was actually about an employee survey that found a growing trend toward paternity leave. More and more fathers were taking time off work to help with newborns.

That would be fantastic for a human resources section, and what a great angle for the morning show! If that email with the subject line “Employee survey” had instead indicated what the survey actually found: “Growing interest in paternity leave” ­ it would have grabbed both our attentions.

Make your subject line like a classified ad: use specific keywords and keep it short!

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