Your outreach email strategy can make the difference between your brand earning press mentions or ending up in a journalist’s trash folder. Sending the perfect email might seem very straightforward. However, there’s more to it than meets the eye. In order to capture a journalist’s attention with your outreach email, you must make an effort to connect with them long before hitting send.
Do you need help making a curated list of journalists who will be interested in hearing your story? Pressfarm’s media database can help you with this.
Before we talk about how to build an effective email outreach strategy, let’s talk about what this is first:
What is a cold outreach email?
A cold outreach email is an email you send to a media professional to share your company news in the hopes that they will share your story with their audience. Traditionally, you would send this email to a journalist. Even so, these days it’s just as beneficial to send email pitches to bloggers, social media influencers and other thought leaders in your field.
Ultimately, you send a cold outreach email to generate good press for your brand.
How does cold outreach boost your digital PR strategy?
The whole point of digital PR is to generate positive publicity for your brand through your online efforts. These include:
- Social media marketing
- Website development
- Guest posting
- Email marketing
When done well, digital PR not only positions you as a thought leader but also increases brand awareness. Over time, building a positive brand image in this way boosts sales of your core product or service.
A good outreach email strategy can complement your digital PR strategy by earning you quality backlinks. If you can earn backlinks from quality sources, then you can establish yourself as a trusted authority in your industry. Over time, people who trust your brand are likely to turn into paying customers.
Many brands make the mistake of giving up on cold outreach too early and opt to pay for sponsored content instead. Even so, a journalist’s career is driven by good stories. Likewise, an influencer’s success is driven by good content.
In other words, if you take the time to develop a good outreach email strategy, and you offer your media contacts value for their time, then they will be more than happy to write about you. Journalists, bloggers and influencers alike all appreciate quality content which resonates with their audience. For this reason, if you pitch them something of value and you pitch it in a memorable way, these professionals have little reason to turn you down.
How to develop a winning cold outreach email strategy
1) Generate value
Before you launch any media outreach campaign, you must first determine if you have something valuable to say. Once you’ve developed a news story, you must evaluate it to make sure it is newsworthy and people will actually care about it. Don’t be like the boy who cried wolf. Pitching the media every time something small happens in your company is a surefire way to be ignored when you actually have a big story to share.
Identifying the value your story holds will help you to know what aspects of this story to highlight when you’re talking to journalists. Provided that you can frame your story in terms of the value it offers them, they will be excited to share this story.
How do you craft a newsworthy story?
In order for your story to be newsworthy, it must meet at least one of the following criteria:
- Timeliness: Your announcement must be new or linked to a significant event in recent news.
- Proximity: Your announcement must affect people within your community or immediate neighbourhood.
- Conflict: Your announcement must address a problem or highlight a controversy.
- Human interest: Your announcement must focus on a real person or real people in the community.
- Relevance: Your announcement must be relatable to the people you’re telling it to.
It’s one thing to determine whether your story is newsworthy. It’s an entirely different thing to determine whether it will matter to your media contact’s audience. Figuring out how excited a journalist’s audience will be to hear your story is just as important as evaluating your story for newsworthiness. After all, if their readers won’t care about your announcement, then why should a journalist bother writing about you?
So, how can you learn what your media contact’s target audience cares about and, therefore, what stories they want to hear? By moving on to step 2 below.
2) Research, research, research…and then research some more
Before you launch an email outreach strategy it is crucial to do in-depth research. Your research will benefit your brand in three ways.
Firstly, it will help you to find the right media contacts to reach out to. Building a media list containing the right media contacts is an important part of any successful media outreach strategy. For effective media outreach, you need to connect with media professionals who operate in your niche and whose target audiences match yours.
Conducting research beforehand will help you to understand the target audience of each contact in your media list. This will help you to decide whether each media contact is a good fit for your brand. If you determine that this person is the right fit, then understanding their target audience can also help you to craft an appealing story.
Finally, taking time to understand who your media contacts are during the research process can help you build a more effective outreach strategy. In order to conduct effective research on your media contacts, you should read their stories and find out what they enjoy writing about. Additionally, you should follow them on social media and see what kind of content they share.
It also helps if you can get an understanding of who your media contacts are outside their careers. Once you find out what their hobbies are and what causes they care about, you can connect with them on a personal level. Personalizing your approach will encourage your media contacts to be more open when you reach out.
3) Build a positive relationship first
Once you’ve done your research and built a media list of relevant contacts, it’s important to reach out to all these people before you ask for any favours. How do you do this?
You can initiate a relationship with a media contact by expressing your admiration for their recent work. Complimenting their work with no strings attached is a good way to reach out the first time. Media professionals are so used to receiving pitches from people they don’t know. If you’re only reaching out to compliment them, then they will lower their defences and be more open to connecting with you.
Alternatively, you can follow the media contact on social media and engage with the content they post. Leave meaningful comments and initiate interesting conversations so that this person recognizes you when it’s time to pitch them a story. Since you’ve offered valuable information in the past, they will expect your email to contain something worth their time.
Finally, you can build a positive long-term relationship with a journalist by offering them help before you ask for help. It might not feel like it, but as a thought leader, your brand has a lot to offer a journalist. Have you realized that the journalist you have your eye on is working on a story which you can help with? You can offer to contribute to that story somehow.
For example, you can share recent research data or offer to host an interview with an expert from your company. By doing this, you will equip this journalist with valuable content and insightful quotes for their story. Helping a journalist in this way could result in them writing a truly outstanding piece. And if you can do that, then they will come back for more in the future. The moment a journalist recognizes you as a valuable source of information, you can definitely count on being their go-to when they next need a source for a story.
4) Use templates wisely
It’s important to personalize your cold email outreach strategy if you want to capture a media contact’s attention. As we’ve said before, these people get tons of pitches daily. For this reason, in order to attract attention in a journalist’s overflowing mailbox, you need to adopt a personal approach.
Some brands like to use templates to simplify their media outreach. If you’re going to do this, make sure you take time to personalize the final result. Taking the lazy route and copy-pasting a template then inserting a journalist’s name to make your email appear customized will save you time but cost you valuable media coverage. Sending a journalist a mass email which you’ve CC’d to everyone on your media list will also end in tears.
Since media professionals receive so many pitches every day, they know when you’ve made an effort to write a customized email and they know when you’ve taken 5 seconds to copy-paste a generic email and hit send. A journalist who suspects you of having done this is unlikely to write about you. After all, if you don’t value them enough to spend a few minutes crafting a personal email, why should they waste their time writing about you?
We’re not saying that using templates is a bad thing. On the contrary, they can be very useful for brands which don’t have a PR professional working in-house. A template will provide valuable guidance on the proper structure and format of an effective email pitch. However, if you’re going to use a template, use it wisely. To customize it, you can use the personal details you collected from your earlier research.
5) Dare to be different
While we’re on the topic of templates, it’s completely acceptable to take an unconventional approach with your cold email. Beyond simply being acceptable, daring to be different can help your brand stand out and secure you that much-needed media coverage.
To be different, you can write your email in a conversational and witty tone. You can even go one step further and crack a joke or two which you think the recipient can relate to.
Sending an unconventional email might seem like an unnecessary risk, but by doing this, you are reminding your reader that there is a unique human being on the other side of the screen. And humanizing your brand will leave your media contacts curious about you and eager to connect with you.
6) Craft a catchy headline
Aside from your name, your headline is the first thing your media contact will see when they receive your cold email. We’ve already showed you how to make sure they remember your name when they see it. Now, let’s talk about how to make sure they open your email when they see your headline.
A good headline should be concise and interesting. You need no more than 10 words to capture a reader’s attention. Any more than that, and your headline will most likely be chopped in the preview of their inbox. And, let’s face it, they’re unlikely to open your email just to read your headline to the end. They’re also unlikely to open your email if your subject line is boring and lifeless.
While it’s important to craft an interesting headline, it’s even more important not to create a cheesy headline which will only look like clickbait. Examples of cheesy headlines include:
- Revolutionary [Brand X] launches an innovative system: Instead of saying this, explain exactly what your brand has done, without using clickbait-y words like innovative.
- Exciting news to share! Open to read more: Instead of saying this and earning an eye roll, be clear about the contents of your email and prove to your reader that this email is actually worth opening.
Or, worse still:
- Re: Our earlier conversation about [XYZ]: Instead of pretending you have had a previous conversation and souring your relationship with a journalist forever, be straightforward. Don’t pretend you’ve talked to a journalist about something before, you’ll only fool them for a moment before they delete your email and blacklist you.
7) Get to the point
Since you want to write a pitch which a journalist will read, it’s important to get to the point as fast as possible. The ideal pitch should be no more than 100 words, with links to your website if a journalist wants to hear more.
Remember, journalists have tons of deadlines everyday. Rambling on and on instead of getting to the point will only result in them wandering off to their next urgent email, unless you have something very interesting to say. Rather than risk losing a journalist before you’ve told the whole story, you should just keep things short and simple.
8) Include a CTA
You might think it’s obvious what you want a journalist to do after they receive your outreach email. You want them to write a story about you, right? However, this might not be as obvious to a journalist as it is to you.
When you decide what you want them to do, spell it out in direct words. Do you want them to write a story about you? Tell them. You want them to interview your founder? Invite them for an interview. Mincing your words will only waste your time as well as the journalist’s time.
9) Follow up
As we’ve already said more than once, media professionals receive multiple email pitches every day. For this reason, your email outreach shouldn’t end the moment you hit the ‘send’ key.
If you don’t hear back from someone you’ve sent a pitch to, it’s natural to assume they’re not interested. Even so, since these people receive tons of pitches daily, it’s also logical to assume some of these emails will fall through the cracks.
So, if you don’t hear back from a particular media contact, don’t be shy. Go back to your computer and send a follow-up email to check whether they received the first one. Just remember that the professionals recommend you follow up no more than 2 times. Any more than that, and a journalist can easily start feeling like you’re harassing them.
10) Keep in touch
Just as it’s important to establish a relationship with media contacts before you launch your email outreach, it’s also important to keep in touch with them afterwards.
Thank your contacts every time they write a story about you. Try to keep up with the work these media contacts are doing. You can reach out to congratulate them on getting featured in a top-tier media outlet. Alternatively, you can initiate conversations on future pieces of content which they produce.
Staying in touch with a journalist in between pitches will help keep you top of mind at all times.
11) Always be useful
We’ve already talked about the importance of offering a journalist value. Just as with any relationship, you shouldn’t confine the nice things you do for a media contact to the beginning of your relationship with them. Instead, you should strive to offer value continuously.
If you keep sending the journalist you’re interested in tidbits of useful information for stories they’re working on, they will put you in their good books for a lifetime.
Building a successful cold email outreach campaign isn’t complicated, but it involves time and effort on your part. As you can now see, the key to successful email outreach isn’t nailing it on the first try, but making a sustained effort to build relationships with your media contacts. If you need some extra help with this, we’ve developed some pitch templates which might come in handy.
Do you need help finding journalists to reach out to with your brand story? At Pressfarm, we can create quality content for you and build a strategy to push it to the right media outlets. As a client, you can connect with over 75,000 journalists, bloggers and influencers through our media database. Sign up today and get the publicity your brand deserves.