People are always asking me: How did you get published in [insert prominent publication here]? How did you get an interview with [insert celebrity here]? How did you snag [insert big company here] as a client?
It’s simple, I tell them: I sent an email.
I don’t have any special connections. There is no big secret to my success. I’m just really good at finding the right email addresses and crafting an enticing pitch.
By sending an email, you could accomplish your dreams, just like I have. For over a decade, I’ve worked as a journalist, marketer and publicist, and have interviewed celebrities like Mayim Bialik, Bill Maher and Rachel Bloom, created content for companies like Mastercard, Visa, IBM and Dell, and have done publicity for influencers with millions of followers. I credit all of my achievements to being really good at email pitching.
Whether you’re working in the media business like I am, or you’re running your own business and looking for leads, learning the art of the email pitch is key to achieving your goals. Here’s where to begin.
Do research before sending an email pitch
Before sending a pitch email, do the research on your contact and the company they work for. That way, you can guarantee that you’re sending the right person the right email at the right time.
For instance, let’s say I’m writing to pitch an article about how I spent my winter vacation to a parenting website. I would first need to see if the website covers topics like this and whether or not they covered it already.
Then, I would make sure that I’m contacting the correct person. I would look at the masthead or LinkedIn and find the editor who assigns stories.
Let’s say you aren’t sure whom to contact even after doing your research. You could always make an educated guess. I’ve had contacts forward my pitch emails onto their colleagues, who then got back to me. Nobody has ever gotten upset with me for sending them an email by accident.
Back in the day, I’d have to find the email format for a company and then guess a contact’s email address. I would receive tons of bounced-back emails, because I was usually wrong. It would take many tries to get the correct email address.
Thankfully, however, now there are tools that can help you find emails. Some of them are free, while others will charge you a monthly or yearly fee.
My favorite email finder is GetEmail, which you can install on LinkedIn. Once you’ve installed it, go to the profile of the person whose email you wish to find. Then, hit GetEmail, and most of the time, it will be able to locate the email for you. This tool has a free and paid version.
If a contact isn’t on LinkedIn or GetEmail can’t find the email, then try RocketReach instead. RocketReach is a paid tool, but it gives you a free trial so you can try it out. I find that RocketReach is the best tool out there, but note that it’s $80/month at minimum. It could be a business expense that ends up paying off big time.
If you’re trying to reach celebrities—like I often do—IMDbPro is the tool you’ll need. It has a free 30-day trial so you can see what it’s all about. I always opt to contact a celebrity’s publicist instead of an agent or manager. If you choose to sign up for IMDbPro, it’s $149.99 per year, and totally worth it if you work in the entertainment business.
If these tools don’t work, you could try to find someone’s email address in their Twitter bio, Instagram or YouTube. Note: You should stick with professional email addresses instead of personal ones. People don’t like receiving business emails to their private addresses.
The guessing game
If these tools and tips don’t work, you can then do the guessing game. Typically, email formats are the first initial of the first name coupled with the last name (i.e. [email protected]), the first name dot the last name ([email protected]) or the first name if that company is on the smaller or more modern side ([email protected]).
How to write a great pitch email
Once you find your contact’s email address, it’s time to write that perfect email pitch.
Create a short, descriptive subject line so that your contact knows exactly why you’re reaching out. You can include a question mark as well—it can make you stand out in their inbox.
For example, when I pitch a publication, I’ll write something like:
“Pitch from a Writer: How I Spent My Winter Vacation?”
I like to say whom the pitch is coming from, because oftentimes, people receive spam. When you identify yourself in the subject line, you’re being transparent, and people are more likely to open your email.
Next, keep the pitch email itself short and sweet. Talk about the value you can deliver to the contact, not what they can do for you. Then, provide proof that you are the perfect person for this task. For me, that comes in the form of prominent publications I’ve written for in the past, as well as samples of my articles. Here’s a typical cold email pitch I’ll send.
Pitch email example
“Hi [First name here],
I hope you’re well. I’m writing to pitch an article on [subject here]. I believe it’d be a great fit for your publication. What do you think?
I’ve written for [list a few publications here].
Here are samples of my work:
Sample No. 1 link
Sample No. 2 link
Thank you so much for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.
Now, you may notice how I included niceties like “I hope you’re well” and “Sincerely.” Some people may cut to the chase and state the pitch right away, but I believe it’s better to be courteous. It’s just my style. Your industry may operate differently, so you’ll have to make that call. Either way, always be as polite and gracious as possible.
You may be wondering: What happens if I don’t receive a response? Usually, I give someone six days to respond, but if it’s a time-sensitive matter, I give two or three days instead. I’ve had to follow up with people three times to receive a response, since everybody is so busy these days. Every time I follow up, I make sure to be respectful and not aggressive.
Getting started with email pitching
Are you ready to begin pitching potential new clients? Now is the time to be fearless.
You may receive a “no,” and that’s totally OK. Don’t give up.
After so many years of doing this, I have absolutely no fear of rejection anymore. For all the visible wins I have, there are many, many more failures. And you know what? I’m still here. I’m still going.
Even if it doesn’t work out the first 10, 20 or 100 times, keep pushing on. After so many rejections, when you finally do get that “yes,” it’ll be that much sweeter.
Your dream could be one pitch email away. So start sending.
Photo by muse studio/Shutterstock