Cold email marketing can be a tricky business, especially when it comes to pitching to journalists. One wrong move and you could find yourself blacklisted, making it difficult to redeem yourself and get your message across. However, it’s important to acknowledge your mistakes and learn from them in order to improve your future pitches and increase your chances of success. With a little bit of effort and attention to detail, you can avoid common faux-pas and build strong relationships with media professionals.

When PR campaigns fail, it is normal for companies to perform a postmortem examination to figure out what went wrong and how this can be fixed for future campaigns. Frequently, companies find that problems in the campaign started with the very first email marketing pitch.

What is cold email marketing? 

If handled appropriately and with a purpose, cold email marketing campaigns can give a business a plethora of benefits. If you mess this up, however, the time and work into developing the campaign will be for nothing. Ultimately, your emails could actually be flagged as spam. This makes it difficult to do any email outreach to the same people again in the future.

According to studies, cold email marketing can pay off big time. In fact, organizations are reporting up to 60% response rates and 80% engagement rates from cold emails. Even so, when you’re doing cold email marketing, you must understand that you are not only up against a considerable level of inbox filtering and competition. You must also have all of the knowledge and ability if you want to genuinely generate results from a cold email. Keep in mind that the average open rate for cold emails is just 14-23% to begin with.

While there are many other sorts of email marketing, cold emails send a targeted message to a recipient. This applies whether the recipient is a journalist, a corporation, or a customer. Unlike cold emails, bulk emails are sent to hundreds or even thousands of people. Cold emails are targeted at a small group of people and should only be sent to leads who have been researched and identified as good prospects. Cold email marketing differs from cold calling in that it is considerably easier to scale for the sender and is far less obtrusive for recipients. As with advertising, the goal is to expose a firm or product to a specific receiver and urge them to respond or buy. Cold email marketing is, however, significantly more cost-effective and, in many cases, more accurately targeted.

The rules of cold email marketing

Before we get into some email marketing campaign preparation guidelines, it’s crucial to remember that all email best practices rely on some basic rules. These rules apply regardless of whether it’s a cold email sent to people who are unfamiliar with a brand or a warm email sent to those with whom your company already has a relationship.


In either case, it’s critical to do some research on the email recipient’s organization and job description. In this way, you can ensure the solution you’re telling them about can help them with their specific needs. You need to create a more personalized message that highlights information that you have generated or shared. For this reason, it is also necessary to look up each recipient’s digital footprint.

A compelling email campaign message will have relevant and accurate personalization, audience-relevant content, and a clear call to action. Beyond the actual message, technical performance variables like list accuracy, email timing, deliverability, testing, and sender reputation can all help to boost response rates. While getting a response is the immediate goal of email marketing, it’s crucial to note that more individuals will read a marketing email than those who will respond. However, a good email will have a lasting impact on everyone who opens it. This is true regardless of whether they respond or not. As a result, whoever builds your cold email marketing campaign should aim to educate. Beyond that, they should leave a lasting impression of your company, influence referrals, and lay the groundwork for future engagement.

A/B testing

Sales emails make up the majority of cold email campaigns. However, companies also use cold emails for public relations, community awareness, brand engagement, networking, and influencing within the industry. These emails can also be used to persuade other companies to collaborate with you and request link insertions or brand mentions to boost SEO for specific content. However, no two email marketing campaigns are alike. As a result, doing A/B testing with your emails is vital in achieving the best results.

Tips & strategies for cold email marketing 

The success of a cold email approach is first and foremost determined by how well you understand your target demographic. This is because most email marketing aims to persuade the recipient and to do so successfully. You need a thorough understanding of what matters most to a particular target. With this in mind, the most crucial aspect of any cold email strategy is to plan a campaign around what helps your company’s target audience because they are more likely to engage with anything that will benefit them in some way.

It’s just as crucial to figure out who will get a company’s marketing emails. You will need to find the contact information of people who match your buyer persona. It’s also important to make a list of the qualities of these prospects.

There are numerous tools available to help you in this process, and manually constructing a media list is possible. It can also be time-consuming and may not yield the greatest results. A good PR firm can help you by creating a tailored media list depending on your company’s needs and specialization.

How Pressfarm can help with this

Do you need help building an effective media list? Pressfarm has a media database of over 1 million journalists, bloggers, and influencers across niches and industries. Sign up today and find the right media professionals to cover your brand.

If building media lists isn’t your thing, Pressfarm can also create custom media lists for your brand. This helps you to connect with the best journalists in your niche. In addition to helping you to reach the right media professionals to tell your story, Pressfarm can also create quality content that appeals to these journalists.

With a professional press release, some winning guest posts, and an eye-catching media kit, you can make a splash in your industry. By submitting this content to the right media outlets and startup directories, Pressfarm can help your brand to rank in relevant search results across different search engines.

With one of Pressfarm’s PR packages, you can reach a wider audience and win people over to your brand.

Creating a cold email isn’t difficult, whether your company is attempting to reach out to media professionals or schedule a sales call with a new company prospect. Having said that, writing one that converts can be challenging. Let’s look at some cold email best practices that can help your email pitch stand out.

Cold email marketing best practices

1) Personalize the email

When it comes to cold emailing, personalization is the most crucial strategy to follow. After all, this is the most effective technique to avoid getting spammed and significantly improve cold email conversion rates. From the sender’s perspective, the email should read like a personal email from a friend or colleague. This can be accomplished by using a personal email address or organization name in addition to a name.

2) Relate with the recipient on a first-name basis

You may not immediately know your email recipients by their first names. However, it’s worth it to do some digging and find a first name that you can use on your email. Addressing your sender by their first name establishes a cordial and personalized tone. Without doing this, you will create the impression that you’ve not done even the most basic research, such as figuring out their name. This is one of the reasons that a cold email might be ignored.

3) Create a connection 

We cannot stress this enough – every cold email sent should attempt to establish a relationship. A referral from a friend or another acquaintance would be great. Unfortunately, cold emails cannot always rely on this strategy because you are unlikely to find any shared acquaintances. Nevertheless, the same method can be used to establish a relationship and make an email relevant to the recipient. When businesses take the time to discover common ground, their cold emails become more relevant to the recipient, increasing the likelihood of a response. Many companies report that they have taken a cold email and made it a little warmer by developing a relationship via relevancy and shared interests.

4) Make it about them, not you 

It’s vital not to jump right into talking about a company’s products and services after establishing a connection in an email introduction. The email should be written entirely with the recipient’s needs in mind. It should explain why you value their work, what solutions you can offer, and what the recipient may require. Avoid talking about who you are as a company, why you are unique, or why you need the recipient to respond. Instead, you should learn about the recipient and tailor your message to their interests.

5) Provide value 

Following up on the previous point, every cold email should add value to the recipient. When a recipient opens your email, you have the opportunity to establish a connection with them and demonstrate why it is worthwhile for them to read, respond, or act on the information. Offering instant value or value as a result of a call-to-action is the best way to accomplish this. Some examples of ways that you can use to offer value are by talking about a solution to an issue the recipient may be having, sharing data or knowledge, a resource, or a valuable networking contact. Regardless of the level of value you provide, it is critical to demonstrate that there is something in it for the recipient.

6) Never resort to clickbait 

When a recipient opens an email, the subject line is the first thing they will see. Your subject line can make the difference between an email that goes into a spam bin and one that is read. As a result, a subject line should not be clickbaity. Rather, it should match the body of the email. Once a recipient knows they’ve been duped, there’s no chance they’ll read that email or any other email from you.

7) Follow up 

Many people overlook the importance of following up on an email. It’s fair to assume that someone is uninterested if they don’t answer your first email. The majority of the time, however, this is not the case. It could be because the recipient has a hectic schedule and just hasn’t gotten around to responding to your email. Since we have so many things going on in our heads at any given time, it’s possible that a recipient only needs to be reminded of an email that you sent so that they can check it out. For this reason, you shouldn’t shy away from sending follow-up emails. As long as you don’t send more than 2 follow-ups, that is. Any more than two crosses the line from a polite reminder to turn into nagging.

Examples of bad PR pitches that you can learn from

Lesson 1: Match the right message with the right audience 

Something that should seem pretty obvious and straightforward is that the media professional who you’re emailing probably specializes in a specific topic.

While this may seem obvious to many, it is still a shocking revelation to a few.

Example 1:

Example of a Bad PR Pitch

One of the most important aspects of any good PR pitch is reaching out to the right individual. It’s true that identifying the “appropriate person” can be difficult at times. Nevertheless, you should always take time to be sure you’re not writing to someone who covers legal affairs with baby news or anything unrelated to legal affairs.

Lesson 2: Check your definition of “newsworthy” 

Different people define words like “expensive,” “interesting,” and “beautiful” differently – these are all subjective adjectives. On the other hand, other words should be understood by almost everyone in the same way.

Words such as “newsworthy” come to mind. However, it is evident that this is not the case for everyone.

A true PR specialist knows that one of the most important aspects of pitching is persuading your contacts that the information you’re presenting is genuinely newsworthy. You need to check that the story you’re sharing is interesting to average media platform users.

Sorry, but it doesn’t matter if your corporation has employed a new assistant undersecretary to the assistant regional manager or if your workplace Christmas party was a big hit. Journalists must be persuaded that reporting on your company’s announcement will benefit their readers or viewers. The evil twin of a real PR pro ignores this and instead sends journalists the most mundane announcements. These turn out to be a waste of time because the journalists will move on to a story that has actual potential.

The apparent lesson that should be learned here is that you need to ensure that everything you’re discussing with journalists will pique their interest and that of their audience. If you fail to do so, your name will be associated with junk mail.

Lesson 3: Be transparent about who you are and what you want 

Example 2:

Example of a Bad PR Pitch

Is there anything more suspicious than the phrase “not a PR pitch”? This is the PR version of email spam, and recipients will react in the same way that they would if they got spam. You do not need to use deception to gain attention from media contacts. In fact, you’ll do everyone a favor if you just get to the point. Remaining direct and honest about why you’re reaching out is always a good idea.

You must keep in mind that journalists receive a large number of emails each day, and yours is frequently simply another part of the daily deluge. No one has time for clever games that stem from awful public relations advice from a list of life hacks. Journalists expect direct pitches and wish to be able to skim through them fast to get a sense of what’s being provided. You must help them by being upfront and professional from the beginning.

Right from the start, you should talk to the journalist you’re emailing in a professional manner, rather than deceiving someone into thinking you are not requesting media attention.

Lesson 4: Do your research

Example of a Bad PR Pitch

Before you hit the “send button” – preferably before you even start drafting your email – you should double-check the basics like whether or not the person you’re emailing is still alive.

Okay, this is an extreme example, but it demonstrates how easy it is to sabotage your chances of success by failing to check some fundamental details before reaching out. Double-checking simple things might seem like a waste of time. However, you won’t think it’s a waste of time when you’ve gotten something that was easy to research so terribly wrong. Confirming that the journalist is still on the same platform, confirming that they are still covering the same topic as last time, and confirming that the company has a previous relationship with them are all important steps to take.

Things change, and people move around (and die, as at least one public relations professional discovered…). You must ensure that your contact list is up to date with help of any accurate bulk email verification tool and that you understand who they are writing to, where they work, and what they do.

It’s also important to keep up with the names, trends, technologies, and other pertinent details surrounding your story. You make it obvious that you didn’t spend a lot of time preparing your pitch or learning about your subject matter by asking to interview dead people, for example. Why would a media professional help someone who can’t even do the bare minimum?

If you are using your own contact database, it is important to take the time to update your media lists occasionally so that they are up to date.

Lesson 5: Understand what you are asking for

Unless you work for or represent one of the world’s mega-brands, you need to understand that there is a power balance between you and the journalist you’re pitching.

In other words, the journalist is more important to you than you are to the journalist. As a matter of fact, media professionals’ inboxes are usually clogged with messages that will look exactly like yours, making it difficult to figure out who sent this:

Example of a Bad PR Pitch

We don’t think it works like this either. When you contact a media contact, you are attempting to initiate a dialogue. Yes, all parties recognize that the corporation wants this conversation to result in media attention. Be that as it may, there is still a getting-to-know-you phase. Attempting to skip this part of the process frequently results in any company’s pitch being overlooked.

Even in today’s world of seemingly limitless media options, media coverage is a scarce and precious resource.

It is essential to treat media contacts with respect and acknowledge their position and labor. You must take time to build a rapport with the people you’re reaching out to. Even once you’ve done that, you must still have realistic expectations of what is achievable and what they are ready to undertake.

Lesson 6: Don’t be a stalker

Example of a Bad PR Pitch

Let’s be honest: there’s no scientific formula for determining how long you should wait to follow up on a pitch. Even yet, a little common sense can help here. Why would anyone follow up on a pitch two hours after submitting it?

The general consensus on this topic appears to be that a corporation should wait at least 24-36 hours before sending an email follow-up. Moreover, journalists have made it plain that email is their preferred mode of communication on a regular basis. Hopefully, you can understand why. Even if you have a journalist’s phone number, it’s ideal to follow up via email.

It’s pointless to keep harassing journalists with follow-up emails. It’s even worse if you keep harassing them over the phone – this is a surefire way to get blacklisted. Keep in mind that, including your original email, three emails about the same thing are plenty. After that, it’s safe to assume that the recipient is not interested. Alternatively, it’s possible that the contact details you have for this person are incorrect, or they’ve left the outlet they were working for.

7) Avoid name-dropping big names, events, or topics  

Those anxious for media attention will exaggerate the significance of their announcement or their links to individuals and issues in the news.

Journalists can recognize when companies or individuals are insulting their intelligence with incomprehensible references to names and topics in the hopes of distracting them from the fact that their announcement isn’t particularly fascinating. Pulling this kind of stunt only serves to make a corporation look foolish.

As a PR professional, your credibility as someone who provides journalists with real stories of public interest is always on the line. Why would you risk losing crucial relationships by making blatantly implausible assertions about why your news is essential?

Journalists deserve credit for spotting cheap scams. The instant a media professional suspects that you are treating them like a fool by overstating the importance of your news, you will lose that media contact – for good.


Regardless of how you structure your email marketing campaign, keep in mind that the goal should be to establish a relationship between you as the sender and the recipient. Since the recipients may receive thousands of emails each day, personalization is critical in this type of situation. The goal is to stand out from hundreds of other businesses that are emailing the same person you’re emailing at any one time. Additionally, it is essential to deliver value to the reader and make sure that you’ve made the value you’re offering clear so that they understand why they should read or even respond to the email. If you follow the proper emailing procedures with consistent effort, then your cold email will stand out in a media professional’s flooded inbox.