So, what are emotional trigger words, you ask? These are words that, when read or heard, elicit a certain emotion from a person. By making use of the correct trigger words, you will be able to get a very specific reaction from the recipient of your PR pitch.

media update's Talisa Jansen van Rensburg walks you through seven emotional trigger words that will get your next PR pitch published.

According to SnoviLabs, “in 1980, professor Robert Plutchik visualised a wheel of eight emotions. They are a useful starting point for connecting with people’s emotions in your writing. They are: joy, surprise, trust, fear, anticipation, anger, sadness, and disgust.”

Since there are so many different types of trigger words, you need to know what reaction you want from the media industry before you decide on one. And depending on the PR pitch that you are sending out, it is important to first understand what reaction you will get from each trigger word that you use.

For example, you could use a trigger word for ‘sadness’ and ‘fear’ if you want the journalist to feel those particular emotions. This will work when your press release is about something that needs its audience to sympathise, act upon or understand how important the news is. 

You can also use happy trigger words to make them feel pleased after reading the pitch. This works best when you send out a press release that is focused on reminding people that there are still positive and good things happening around them. 

So, without further ado, here are seven emotional trigger words that you might want to include in your next PR pitch:

1. ‘Visual’ word — Huge 

Making use of visual words in your press release will help create an image that you want the journalist or publication to envision; this will help to better convey your message. For example, when you say ”I know it is typical Monday morning, but I have this huge story that will surely shake things up!”

When a press release creates visual imagery, it allows your audience to better engage with the content and see what you are trying to say; this approach is more productive than just telling them to publish your press release. 

With the amount of content that is written and sent into publications, you want to make sure that yours stands out — in a good way!

2. ‘Trust’ word — Absolutely 

Everyone wants to feel that they can be trusted and that they can trust others. Therefore, one of the very first emotional trigger words that you want to make use of when writing your PR pitch is a ‘trust’ word, such as factual, proven, trustworthy and, of course, absolutely

You want to ensure that the person receiving your email knows that you are reliable and honest. For example, you could say to the journalist, “I would absolutely recommend the following person’s story —  it fits perfectly in with your publication.”

By saying that you ‘absolutely’ recommend something shows that you have confidence in your pitch, and this will build trust between yourself and media agencies because they will be more likely to believe in you if you believe in your pitch.  

3. ‘Surprise’ word — Terrific 

When you are sending out a PR pitch, it is vital that you show the recipient that you are excited about what you’ve sent. For example, you could say something like: “I have terrific news! The following press release contains positive insights for South Africans in the marketing industry.” 

When you use words like ‘terrific’, you are informing the journalist that you are excited about the story, meaning they will also have a sense of excitement. This will persuade them to read your email and look at your press release, because they will want to know themselves what is so ‘terrific’. 

4. ‘Fear’ word — Anxious 

Making use of a ‘fear’ word will either make the person reading your PR pitch relate to or feel the strain that fear can have on a person. If you are sending out a press release that comes with time sensitivity, for example, you might want to make it clear in your PR pitch by using a trigger word. 

So, you could say: “Sorry for sending this email so early in the morning, but I was really anxious to share this news with everyone.” This gives the journalist the sense that it is important as it will trigger the feeling of shared anxiety, meaning they will click on that attachment faster than you can say time-sensitive content.

5. ‘Sad’ word — Heartbroken 

Using emotional triggers that will make the reader feel sad might not seem like the best strategy, but with sadness comes empathy and sympathy. Therefore, if you make use of sad emotional trigger words in your PR pitch, the journalist is more likely to feel sympathy towards the content.

For example: “Heartbroken doesn’t even come close to describing the way we all feel when we think of the amount of people struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic. Because of this, the following brands have set out to change the fate of these people with much needed essentials.” 

By triggering a sad emotion, your audience will either relate to the situation, respond to a call-to-action or be thankful for everything that they do have. The journalist who receives your pitch will be more inclined to act upon your pitch if their feelings are brought into the mix.

6. ‘Angry’ word — Irritation 

Let’s say that you need to get a press release out for one of your clients and it is a pressing matter, such as the need for more people to recycle. Sending that story onto media agencies with a PR pitch that merely says ‘consider for publishing’ will not do the trick!

The topic should evoke anger and urgency within everyone (everyone should recycle!), and you want the journalist to get angry too so that they publish the story. 

So, you could say something like, “People are not recycling enough in KZN and the beaches look horrible. It is such an irritation; luckily,  there are brands out there focusing on creating greener strategies to help save the planet — soon we might not need plastic at all.”

Getting the person angry alongside you about relatable issues will ensure a higher possibility of them publishing the press release. Trigger words create an opportunity to build relatability between you and the journalist — use this to your advantage!

7. ‘Anticipation’ word — Discover

People love adventures, which means that everyone wants to find something new once in a while to keep the creative juices flowing. This includes media agencies, journalists and everyone consuming content. 

This is a great opportunity to include an anticipation word in your PR pitch. You have the opportunity to make a few readers feel really excited about what the future could hold. For example: “Click on the attachment to discover an entirely new world of mysteries.” This will trigger anticipation, making them want to click on that attachment as soon as possible. 

Note: It is vital to remember that, when getting creative with writing PR pitches, you still need to stick to the facts; there is no use in selling a press release to be something that it isn’t.
A touch of clickbait never hurt anyone. In fact, it’s actually helped a lot of publishers. Find out How a hint of clickbait helps media agencies rise to the top to learn more. 
What are some of your favorite trigger words to use in your PR pitch? Be sure to let us know in the comments section below.

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Now that you know what emotional trigger words are and where to use them be sure to read Four ways visuals can help you nail your next PR pitch, and spice things up.
*Image courtesy of Vecteezy