5 ways to use email marketing for public relations

by | Jul 18, 2024 | Public Relations

Public relations and email marketing are both powerful tools in any business’s arsenal. But they don’t come naturally to mind as a pair. Email marketing, though, can boost your PR strategy, as long as you know how to use it effectively to forge connections with your audience. 

That effectiveness comes when you make your messaging personal. The personalization opportunities of email marketing allow you to improve your brand reputation and foster trusting customer relationships. So, this article will cover everything you need to know about how to use email marketing for public relations towards that direction. 

1) Use email automation software for personalized communication

Email offers you the chance to reach subscribers at their most private space online: their inbox. Due to their personal nature, emails allow for deeper connections. But to get there, you need personalized and timely messages. It’s certainly worth the trouble, seeing that most consumers want to consume personalized content: 

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The way for personalized messaging passes through robust email automation software. By setting up targeted automation workflows, PR representatives can dispatch the right content to the right people at the right time. And they do so while saving time and resources to work on more creative tasks. Let’s get more specific on what you can do with email automation tools: 

  • Segmenting media contacts based on specific criteria like their industry, level of engagement, or publication type, to send more relevant emails. 
  • Personalizing email content with details about the subscriber’s past coverage, publication’s focus, or interests for increased engagement. 
  • Automatically inserting dynamic content, such as new product or service features, event details, or recent awards into your emails. 
  • Managing your email lists to keep them organized and up to date, removing outdated and invalid email addresses. 
  • Scheduling the sending of important email campaigns like press releases or follow-ups so it coincides with optimal times for media attention. 
  • Tracking critical metrics like open rates, click-through rates, and response rates to measure the effectiveness of your PR emails and refine your narrative. 

Many email marketing automation solutions come with the abovementioned capabilities even in low tier plans or free versions. For instance, Mailchimp is one of the first options that come to mind for automating your email marketing. Its free plan is popular among PR agencies that want to test the waters, offering granular segmentation and effective automation.  

But ease of use should be an essential factor, too. Mailchimp users report there’s a considerable learning curve when using the tool, especially for beginners or non-tech-savvy professionals. Also, you have no option to remove Mailchimp branding in the free version.  

Keeping a unified branding in all your emails is a vital part of separating your brand from others. In either case, you could keep an eye for low-cost yet solid alternatives to Mailchimp that make it easy for your team to build and customize branded emails.  

2) Send valuable email content

One of the most crucial steps in strengthening relationships with your audience is sending helpful email content. There are several use cases to deliver value to your subscribers’ inboxes. Let’s check the most common ones to use for public relations purposes: 

  • Show thought leadership: Use your emails to share your work, such as articles and research findings, to position your brand as an industry leader. Also, consider informing your contacts about recent awards or recognitions you’ve received for positive coverage. 
  • Announce and promote events: You can use your emails to promote your events to journalists and influencers to gain media attention. Especially in the case of webinars, your emails are an excellent opportunity to ask attendees for their contact details to capture more leads.  
  • Distribute press releases: Adding press releases to your emails lets you announce important news like product or service launches or company milestones—not only to external stakeholders like media contacts but also to existing customers or partners.
  • Solicit customer feedback: Interactive email components like surveys or polls allow you to gather valuable insights into your recipients’ preferences and needs. This type of feedback serves as a compass to tailor future pitches and refine your outreach strategy. 
  • Incorporate trending news: When you use email to deliver timely content aligned with industry trends and news, you boost your company’s visibility. Plus, you come across as a credible brand and a reliable source of information. If it fits your industry, you could run a series of podcasts and invite subscribers to turn into regular listeners for all the trending news. 
  • Promoting a special cause: This use case of email marketing is particularly helpful for NGOs, letting them share the details of their cause and the results of their efforts. That way, they can highlight their unique values while inspiring more people to join the mission and donate to it.  

As we can see in Everlane’s example, promoting a special cause isn’t aimed at NGO audiences only. Everlane uses this email to present the problem and thank its customers for supporting its cause for everyone to have equal access to food supplies. The brand makes use of an actionable CTA to motivate recipients to give their donation, making them feel part of a community. 

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3) Incorporate user-generated content

Customers value authentic brand communications more than ever. In the meantime, PR professionals tend to face skepticism and doubt from their target audience. One more reason to enhance their company’s credibility through user-generated content. Your emails are an ideal platform to invite customers to share their stories about how they engaged with your brand, products, or services.  

By doing so, you show them you want to involve them in your brand’s storytelling experience. Not only that, but you can use the material as social proof that validates your trustworthiness. It’s no wonder that reading customer reviews is the most common research method used by shoppers to evaluate lesser known brands:  

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If you want your subscribers to share their experience of using your product or service through email, you could offer incentives like discounts, freebies, or entry to contests. The same goes for simplifying the submission process; so, provide readers with clear instructions and easy-to-use platforms where they can upload their content. 

UGC serves as a powerful token of authenticity across different touchpoints, from your social media and emails to dedicated landing pages. There are many forms of UGC to leverage, and each of them reinforces your brand’s credibility in a unique way: 

  • Star ratings are the simplest and most immediate form of social proof to showcase overall customer satisfaction.  
  • Customer reviews offer depth and emotion to your brand story while being particularly effective in building relatability. 
  • In-depth case studies provide comprehensive insights into how your value proposition solves specific pain points and contributes to customer success stories. 
  • Video testimonials capture the genuine usage of your products or services, demonstrating real-life benefits in a dynamic way. 

4) Navigate crisis management with emails

In the public relations sector, crises are bound to arise. In fact, 59% of companies have experienced a PR crisis. Ensuring that such an incident doesn’t pose a threat to your brand reputation is a skill every PR professional should possess. There are several factors that could initiate a PR crisis, some of the most common ones being: 

  • Disasters and accidents 
  • Product recalls 
  • Legal issues 
  • Employee misconduct 
  • Controversial campaigns 
  • Environmental violations 
  • Supply chain disruptions 

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Crisis management is among the most effective ways to use email marketing for public relations. When things escalate in multiple channels, it’s time to move the conversation to a private space. A carefully planned email strategy helps you mitigate the negative effects of the incident by allowing you to contact all stakeholders in time, and at scale.  

Create well-written emails that acknowledge the situation and show you take responsibility. You should be precise and clear regarding the measures you’re taking to address the problem and express your empathy for the individuals affected.  

It’s crucial to consider your messaging during times of crisis. You may have a casual tone of voice, but this is no time for it. Instead, make sure you create professional content with appropriate and compassionate language.  

Perhaps you’ll need to adjust your sending frequency, too, to guide customers, employees, and partners through every step of the PR crisis. It could also mean you should pause automated emails, aligning your communication with your audience’s struggles. Losing these sales will be a small price to pay in return for your customers’ loyalty and respect. 

5) Invest in email accessibility

Digital accessibility extends beyond mere legal compliance, forcing PR professionals to consider its broader impact. Besides meeting legal requirements, accessibility comes with a strategic advantage: allowing brands to tap into new markets while fostering loyalty among existing customers. 

There’s a common misconception that prioritizing accessibility compromises the quality of email design. However, accessibility principles focus on creating user-friendly, functional, and visually appealing emails that promote the reading experience. Although accessible emails may be designed with readers with disabilities in mind, they have a significant impact on a wider audience, too. 

For instance, non-native language subscribers, users commuting, or people with temporary impairments (e.g., a broken arm) benefit from accessible design. Clear and properly structured emails improve usability for everyone. Start by avoiding cluttered email designs and ensuring a straightforward structure. Choose legible fonts and provide sufficient color contrast to facilitate users with visual impairments. 

To foster inclusivity, add alt-text for images as it benefits screen readers and provides context for users who can’t view them. When it comes to your video marketing, they should include captions and audio descriptions. Also, ensure your hyperlinks convey their purpose clearly and your CTAs are large enough for mobile users to tap easily. 

Building stronger customer relationships

Email is much more than a marketing channel for your PR strategy. When brands use email marketing for public relations effectively, it turns into a pathway to building mutually beneficial relationships between your company and your audiences. 

Tailored communication is precisely what public relations is all about. Creating personalized email content helps you reach a broad audience and creates a dynamic dialogue between your brand and recipients There’s a wide range of scenarios to explore, ranging from delivering trending news to asking customers to share their experiences with your brand.  

Companies that advocate for email accessibility reach new audiences and create an inclusive community. Each of these practices will bring you one step closer to building a positive brand image and growing in the challenging field of public relations. 

Maria Fintanidou
Maria Fintanidou works as a copywriter for email marketing automation software Moosend, having created the Help Articles (FAQs) and overseen the platform’s translations in Greek and Spanish. She loves exploring new cultures and ways of thinking through traveling, reading, and language learning.


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