Alyson Shontell is one of Business Insider
’s reporters covering startup companies. She is routinely one of the first to know—and write about—the happenings in and around Silicon Valley.
But she initially missed the news that Rally.org was announcing $7.9 million in new funding from a slew of tech heavyweights that include LinkedIn cofounder Reid Hoffman. Rally’s PR firm, Atomic PR, sent Shontell three separate emails about Rally leading up to the announcement.
“I didn't open any of them until I saw the news -- which was actually interesting -- up on other sites,” Shontell wrote Thursday in a story on Business Insider
. “Due to an absurd amount of startup pitches that infiltrate my inbox, I've learned to manage emails by scanning for three things.”
Which three things? Sender, subject line, and first sentence.
Shontell posted the subject lines she received, in order:
The Trouble with Pebble: Kickstarter competitor Rally.org Sheds Some Light
Embargoed News: Rally.org secures unique round of funding from superstar investors
Social fundraising platform Rally.org raises $7.9 million in Series A funding online
She goes on to explain why she didn’t open the emails and subsequently missed out on the news:
• I had never met or heard of the people sending me the news, and it was clear they didn't know me either.
• I had never heard of Rally.org, so using the startup's name in the subject title wasn't alluring.
• "Embargoed news" isn't particularly compelling either. No reporter wants news every other publication will be receiving. They want exclusives!
• The most interesting part of the news, the investors (which help give unknown startups credibility), were never mentioned up front.
• The most compelling (final) email arrived in my inbox after the news was already out (it was a short email followed by a press release). It still didn't list any of the impressive investors up front.
The No. 1 takeaway for PR pros: Lead with the news.
Andrew Cross is a Chicago-based public relations professional with Walker Sands Communications and a contributing writer for PR Daily. Follow him on Twitter at @Andrew_R_Cross.