Your hard work on that press release just went bye-bye with the click of the delete button.  You know what’s the saddest about this?  I don’t even know what I deleted.  There was no information, other than your name and contact info in the body of the email.  You expected me to open an attachment to find out what you’re pitching.  I don’t have time to open the attachment.  Delete.

I’m not making this up.  Earlier this morning during a rush on the news desk I deleted four of these emails.  These emails didn’t even have subject lines that helped me understand what the emails were about.  Delete.

I have said it before.  I say it again.  The news desk receives hundreds of emails per day.  Most of it I consider to be spam. It’s not the kind of spam you may receive in your personal email, but random statements on situations not related to the Denver market like, nationwide email blasts on feeds; or stories that we would never air; or political slam-downs from various campaigns around the country.  Around a dozen of us in the newsroom are on this email list, but not a single one of us has the time to actually monitor the email constantly. 

When the newsroom is buzzing with no down time I scan the emails when I can.  I look at:
  • Who is sending the email
  • Email subject
  • Content in body of email

In seconds I make a decision to file the email or delete it.  If you make me search for the important information: Who, What, Where, Why, How, I will delete it.  If that information is easily accessible I will immediately copy/paste the information into the appropriate planning file.  If I don’t have time to file it, I will leave it in my inbox until I have the time.
I do NOT have the time to search through an email to find out if it’s of interest or not.  I may not even have the time to open an attachment, like this morning.  If all of your information is in an attachment and I’m slammed on the desk, it will be deleted without opening the attachment.

So I beg of you, if you are emailing story pitches, make sure you put the pertinent information in the body of your email. You may have the most gorgeous, cunning, clever press release ever attached to the email, but I won’t see if it I don’t open it.  I can’t stress enough that most likely I won’t have the time to take the extra step of opening it.

You may think this is ridiculous and I’m just being lazy.  I’m listening to 12 scanners, monitoring email along w/several social media networks; working with photographers, producers, reporters, and editors; and answering phones, all at the same time.  My coworkers may not have same exact responsibilities as me, but they are all doing as many tasks at the same time that I am.  In any breaking news situation take all this and multiply it by 10. 

If you’re still not convinced, just think about how long it takes a police dispatcher to utter horrible words like, “officer down” or “shots fired at a school” or “fire in multistory building with parties trapped.”  It takes just seconds for news to break and to throw the newsroom into a frenzy.  In the time I have to take to open an attachment to figure out what the heck the email is about the entire news of the day can change.

If you still don’t believe me, I simply ask you:  If you expect me to take the time to open an attachment to get any information whatsoever, why can’t I expect you to put a succinct story explanation in the body of your email?  I can and I do.  You’ve put all your efforts into creating a list.  I advise you to take a few extra seconds to write something plain and simple or even snazzy in the email to make sure your hard work doesn’t find itself in the deleted items folder.