PR pros, stop using ‘Re:’ in subject lines

It’s a sleazy tactic that will only make you enemies.

For years spam artists have used “Re:” in subject lines to trick people into opening an email. People will open the email because they think it is a reply to an email they sent. Many phishing attempts use this tactic.

Here are some examples I’ve received in the past few days:

Re: HomeDepot Replacement-Windows-Special

Re: AUTO-DEALS — Cars-Below Kelly-Blue Book Value

RE: Your-Energy Bill-was recently-lowered-by 80%

Re: Automobile Bonanza Sales

A sleazy PR and marketing spam tactic

Sadly, many public relations agencies and marketing firms are now using this deceitful method. They’ll send pitches disguised as a reply to a message.

The sender specifically designs these emails to be confusing. Yes, in normal use “Re:” means “in regards to.” However, at the beginning of an email subject line, the only correct use of “Re:” is in reply to an email.

PR people, have you no shame?

Here are a few emails I’ve received in the past week or so:

Re: What’s the “Secret Sauce” to Social Media Marketing?

RE: Story Idea: 5 Steps to Make Your Ad ‘Go Viral’

RE: Interested in featuring ‘The Value of Coupons in Digital Marketing’ [Infographic]

RE: Hope you received my last email

RE: Mad Men vs. Mad Math: How Data (Not Dimensions) is the Future of Online Advertising (Web Ink Now)

Re: Update on social media content optimization survey

What do you think? Am I overreacting? I’m sure I’m not the only person who deletes these things unread.

A version of this article first appeared on David Meerman Scott’s website,

Topics: PR

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