Perfecting the Art of the Pitch Email

You might know that I also help creative businesses with their PR and marketing. Which means I have sent out a bunch of emails asking people to do things for my clients. In this job, I get the reverse-- lots of people ask for the things. And I can tell you that being on the other end of the ask has really taught me a lot about how to pitch myself (that doesn't mean it's always easier though).

When Robin Reetz reached out about writing a blog post I knew pitching yourself would be a biggie! Robin is a freelance writer for lifestyle outlets like Clementine Daily and Refinery 29, so she know what she's talking about.

When have you sent a pitch email and what was it like? Did it work? Let us know in the comments!

One of the hardest parts about having a business is mastering the art of promotion. Self-promotion has a tendency to feel uncomfortable, so it’s no surprise that promoting your products can have that same slightly icky feeling.

But as we all know, promotion is necessary in today’s crowded creative marketplace – and I’m not talking about maintaining an active Instagram account. When it comes to getting the word out about your business and your products, a healthy relationship with bloggers and press outlets is extremely important – now matter how uncomfortable the outreach may make you feel.

Rather than feeling overwhelmed by the idea of speaking to bloggers, writers, and editors, you should learn to embrace the art of outreach – and it all starts with the pitch email.

I've spent the last seven years working in the editorial world as a full time employee and a freelance contributor at print and digital publications. In that time, I’ve seen my fair share of pitch emails and press releases. In fact, anyone who’s spent more than five minutes in the chair of a writer or editor has seen their fair share of press releases, persistent cold calls, and pitch emails. Some of these outreach attempts, particularly the pitch emails, grab your attention more than others. Some you may consider, then forget about. Others, you may delete right away.

Whether you’re launching a new business, collection, or product line, there are a few patterns to avoid if you want to make sure your pitch email is read.

Here are the top three pitch emails that every writer, editor, and blogger hates to see:

The email to the masses
The format of what we’ll call “the email to the masses” is in no way personal, and it’s not intended to be. This email is basically just a press release that’s been embedded in an email and distributed to seemingly every person who’s ever worked in media in any way. 99% of the time, I delete these emails. 95% of the time, I don’t even read them. Not only are they sent quickly and with little effort, but they also tend to fall into the next category...

The completely, utterly random email
Here’s what I’ve covered in my career as a writer and editor: fashion, home wares, travel, some beauty, and items that we’ll throw under the vague but incredibly useful “lifestyle” category. One look at my blog, social media feeds, or a quick glance at my experience will tell you who I am and the types of publications I write for, have written for, and am generally likely to write for. All of this being said, I often receive press releases and pitch emails that don’t make sense with the type of content I cover or have been known to cover in the past. Sending me a press release that in no way fits the audience of any publication I’ve ever written for doesn’t make sense. Not only are you wasting my time with an email that’s completely, entirely random, but you’re wasting yours as well. In short: do your research! This will save you both time and effort in your outreach work.

The overly persistent email
I am a huge, huge fan of follow-up. Like, big. I even point to follow up as the reason I’ve gotten many of the professional gigs I’ve had in my life. But there is a point of too much follow-up, and it has to do with two things:

           -The actual number of times you’ve followed up (one-two is plenty)

           -Your approach to follow-up (Nice, quick, “check-in” follow-up emails are appreciated. Overly anxious, rushed emails are not.)

Now you know what not to do in your press outreach. So, what should you do?

From my perspective, the key to a successful email is personalization. Think quality, not quantity. If I receive an email from a maker or designer who’s seen my work and would like to find a way to work together, that’s something I’m likely to consider. The same press release related to a market or topic I’ve never covered sent three times? That’s something I’ll probably ignore, or politely decline.

Another tip: Consider reaching out directly to freelance writers. Not everyone who contributes to a magazine or a site is on the masthead – freelance contributors often aren’t, but they will be the ones choosing content in many cases. The next time you spot an article that features products or services that fit with your brand, consider doing a little sleuth work on the writer. Send them a friendly email, introduce yourself and your product, and wait before following-up. After all, it just might work.

Connect with Robin Reetz here:
Twitter: @reetzrobin
Instagram: @robinreetz
Pinterest: robinreetz