If you’re starting off your press releases and pitches with boilerplate language, you might as well crumple them up, toss them in a garbage can, and set them on fire.
Alright, that may be slightly overdramatic. But it got you to keep reading the next few sentences, didn’t it? Attention is an increasingly precious resource in this age of constant stimulation, so grabbing hold of it and keeping it is paramount for any PR professional trying to get a message out into the world.
Standing Out in the Crowd
When a pitch is one of the hundreds in a reporter’s inbox, or a press release is one of the thousands published daily on the news wires, you can’t take for granted that anyone will read your content and understand the full scope of your announcement. A reporter may only see the first words in an email preview before deciding whether to open or delete an incoming pitch, so if the subject line hasn’t already grabbed them, your opening is your final chance to make the case for your message’s relevance.
Some contexts and audiences require an established professional tone, necessitating a more formal approach. But where there is an opportunity to add energy to your message without spilling over into the bombastic, introducing dynamic language can make all the difference. In other words, don’t “improve” your opening lines— supercharge, enhance, or revamp them.
From Standard to Stronger
The start of a message doesn’t have to be extreme or court outrage to be compelling — it only has to be unique and inspire curiosity to learn more. Methods may vary depending on the industry you’re working in or the types of audiences you’re speaking to, but there are a few core techniques that can reliably improve the start of your messaging. The following examples of standard introductions show how they can be strengthened by using these techniques:
Pitch Email – Make it Personal, Tell a Story
Standard opening: Hi Tom, I saw you have been covering trends in technology and wanted to share some information on new advancements in AI. An expert I work with has spoken on the anticipated opportunities and challenges at several conferences and can capably speak to the current moment…
There’s nothing wrong with this opening, but it is likely identical to dozens of other pitching messages Tom regularly receives. If the subject line isn’t compelling enough on its own, the body of the message is unlikely to improve the chances of your message being read. By making the introduction more personal, demonstrating familiarity with the reporter’s work specifically, and telling a story, we can strengthen this opening:
Stronger opening: Tom, I couldn’t agree more that “we’re on the precipice of the greatest global transformation since the internet,” as you said in your recent piece. That’s exactly how the AI expert I work with describes what’s coming. At a recent conference, he told me about his predictions for the next five years over a lukewarm hotel coffee and…
Press Release – Share a Surprising Fact, Use Dynamic Language
Standard Opening: City, State (Date) — A new survey released by IT firm Example Company shows that business leaders already use AI in their daily work. The survey, which polled 2,000 corporate workers, found that 68% of respondents have been utilizing the latest AI innovations.
This introduction is accurate, and you don’t want to stray too far from the core facts of the announcement. Still, by frontloading the interesting fact, using bolder language, and providing relevant context, the basic facts of this release can take on a more dynamic form.
Stronger Opening: City, State (Date) — Over two-thirds of business leaders are already using AI every day, according to a landmark survey of IT professionals conducted by Example Company. This finding, among several other insights in the full report, paints a picture not of an industry on the brink of transformation but an evolution actively underway.
Article – Ask a Provocative (But Fair) Question, Demonstrate Value
Standard Opening: Some workers express trepidation about using AI tools in their jobs, citing concerns about their role being deprecated by new technology. But these workers may not appreciate the ways in which AI can improve their experience at work.
This introduction clearly sets the stage for what the article will entail. But unless a reader is already interested in the topic and independently curious to learn more, they are unlikely to dive into this article. To improve this introduction, we can begin with a compelling question and clearly state how the reader stands to benefit from the message at hand:
Stronger Opening: Do you love every part of your job? Chances are, there are some tasks you begrudgingly complete and others you actually look forward to. Thankfully, the routine, mundane tasks that can make the workday feel longer are precisely the types of tasks AI tools excel at handling. Less time doing data entry or collating spreadsheets translates to more of your time dedicated to meaningful or creative tasks.
Going Bold Without Going Overboard
There’s a fine line to walk between an opening that is compelling and intriguing and an opening that is inflammatory or misleading. Bold openings require substantive and useful information in the body of the message in order to deliver their intrigue and avoid seeming like a bait-and-switch. If you begin with an unusual question, be sure to provide an answer or interesting points in support of different perspectives. Likewise, if you begin with a strange fact, ensure that it relates to the ultimate focus of your message. Starting an article with “Did you know frogs use their eyes to swallow?” may make readers continue reading the piece, but unless your story is related to frogs, it will seem like a cheap non-sequitur by the end of the article.
Of course, there is room for nuance, detailed explanation, and essential facts in PR messaging. But readers will only give that kind of material the attention they require if they are already invested in the story you are telling. Earning that attention with a strong and compelling introduction allows you to slow down and take time on the most critical details.
You would probably not be reading this conclusion if this blog post had started: “Writing an engaging introduction in press materials is a very important part of PR messaging, as it establishes a tone that encourages further reading.” But with a strong start, the piece becomes more engaging and ultimately reaches a broader — and more engaged — audience.
Interested in taking your press strategy to the next level? Contact Bluetext to learn about our PR services.