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Coffee with a Journalist: Collette Reitz, Elite Daily

CWJ - EPISODE 142 - Collette Reitz, Elite Daily - FEATURED IMAGE

Our guest this week on Coffee with a Journalist is Collette Reitz. Collette is a news editor at Elite Daily where she’s in charge of assigning and editing trending news coverage of all things food, viral, tech, social media, and travel. She also oversees Elite Daily’s “Life Behind The Likes” and “Chef’s Kiss” monthly content series. Click below to follow Collette Reitz on Twitter and LinkedIn.

During the episode, Collette shares her thoughts on pitches labeled as ‘exclusive’, why it’s important to include dates in your subject lines, her thoughts on brand recognition vs quality products, and more.

Click below to listen to the full conversation and read below for highlights from the interview:

 

Her Inbox & Pitches

[00:02:30] BB: Okay. So that informs them the pitches. I do like to talk, of course, about your inbox. How is it in there, specifically with pitches?

[00:02:41] CR: A lot. Too much.

[00:02:42] BB: Too much. Yeah. Okay. Then what’s your system? What’s your system? It’s very rare that anyone ever has been on the show, and they’re like, “You know, it’s okay.” No. It’s disaster. It’s bad. It’s overwhelming, etc. Go ahead.

[00:02:56] CR: I think it was the beginning of this year. I attempted to be an inbox zero person. But I just found it wasn’t like a great use of my time. So I’d rather just have – Because I get a lot of pitches, honestly, I think I wound up on a lot of Listservs that I don’t know how I got there. So leaving those unread no longer bothers me.

“But in general, I have the brands that we cover a lot, so I’m always in touch with their PR people. The one thing I do like, and I don’t even keep a tab for this but I keep a running list for myself, is embargoes.”

I try to utilize label to keep track of pitches because we know I prefer food, tech, travel somewhat, social media. So I like to keep labels in my inbox. So even if something’s unread, I can go to a label and still find it. I do a lot of searching in my inbox. Like I’ll just search and if it’s – Basically, I see all the headlines. Then if I see something that I remember, and I’m like, “Oh, let me search this term,” and then I find the email.

[00:03:42] BB: That is a common technique we have found with journalists. They use their inbox as their own personal Google to find stuff. Yes. Okay. So is your labeling technique, though, at all helpful? I’ve heard people just say like, “Yeah. I started labeling, but that doesn’t really help.”

[00:03:59] CR: I would say – You know, it was funny. I think I probably agree with them. It’s helpful in terms of like if – Say it’s like a really slow news day, and I just go check all of my tabs. Then maybe I can find something that is something we’d write about, but wasn’t urgent enough that I was like, “We need to put this on the docket.” So I find it can be helpful that way. But in general, I have the brands that we cover a lot, so I’m always in touch with their PR people. The one thing I do like, and I don’t even keep a tab for this but I keep a running list for myself, is embargoes.

 

Her Thoughts on Embargoes & Exclusives

[00:04:30] BB: Oh, we do talk about embargoes and exclusives on here. So, okay, open that up. Embargoes you like.

[00:04:36] CR: I like embargoes. I like to see the date in the headline. I don’t like just embargo because, honestly, we’re getting so many, and it’s nice if you can just plan. Like, personally, if this embargo was a week from now, I might leave that email unread for a second because I know I have time in terms of like daily hits like product announcements or something like that, something that’s not too intensive.

Yeah, an embargo all caps at the top. I like all caps ‘embargo’ with a date and then specified in the email like in bold or red. Always great when you have the date and time. If you just send along the assets, that’s always really great too.

[00:05:16] BB: The date in the headline, I have not heard – Or in the subject line. I haven’t heard that necessarily before.

[00:05:20] CR: Yes, in the subject.

“ I like all caps ‘embargo’ with a date and then specified in the email like in bold or red. Always great when you have the date and time. If you just send along the assets, that’s always really great too.”

[00:05:22] BB: That’s a great tip. Do you ever get exclusives?

[00:05:25] CR: Exclusives, I think, are less common in terms of a true exclusive and I used – Like I was younger starting out. I would really be enticed by seeing an exclusive in the headline. I’m like, “Oh, my gosh. What did we just get?” Then you read it, and you’re like, “Oh, this isn’t an exclusive.”

[00:05:43] BB: Yeah. Tell us, for everybody because this is a wide topic, what to you isn’t a true exclusive?

[00:05:49] CR: I mean, exclusive to me in terms of what we cover, we do a lot of trending food, trending products. So I know that we’ll likely not be the only person covering it. But if you say you can post at 7:00 AM, and everyone else is going to get this press release at 10:00 AM, like that’s – We have – We can throw it on our Instagram, throw it on our Facebook, social things that’s a fit. Yeah. Something where you can get like a big lead on the other outlets. Then, of course, something we’re only talking to one person, and they’re not talking to anyone else.

 

Her Thoughts on the Perfect Pitch

[00:06:21] BB: Yes. Yes. One to one is the rule. But how this gets confused boggles the mind, sometimes. So there’s that. Okay. For a really good pitch, Collette, that you’re like, “Yes, I want to respond to that,” what does that include?

[00:06:38] CR: It has to include what the news is. I know that sounds like obvious, but it’s really – Sometimes, I’ll get a pitch that’s just like a sentence, and it’s like, “Hey, I have this cool product coming up, and it’s from TK brand.” Then that’s it. I’m like, “I don’t really know what the news is here.”

“So right at the top, right on the subject line, let me know what the new news is. Let me know what the brand is. I think the subject line, the best thing to have in there is the news, the brand, and a date.”

[00:06:57] BB: Wait, wait. Wait, wait. That’s the whole pitch? That’s the whole pitch?

[00:07:01] CR: It’s not like as common, but I get it enough where I’m like, “I don’t even know what I could build around this,” and I’m not going to go to research myself on it.

[00:07:09] BB: No, too much work.

[00:07:11] CR: So right at the top, right on the subject line, let me know what the new news is. Let me know what the brand is. I think the subject line, the best thing to have in there is the news, the brand, and a date. Again, I’m trending news so we’re –

[00:07:24] BB: News, brand, date. Yup.

[00:07:26] CR: Yeah. I’m trending news, so we’re doing a lot of daily coverage, and my docket is like loose and we’re – Try to be nimble and cover what people are talking about. So I like to have the dates in there because I keep track of all the embargoes as well. So have your date, have what the news is. Be clear on if it’s new. There’s a lot of times where you’ll get something and it’s not new. It’s returning, or it’s slightly different than something that existed. Yeah. And have high res images. If you’re selling a product or a food image, please have them like right away. Most people are good with this. But sometimes, I find it a little odd that I have to ask for images, if I’m going to be writing about your product.

“If you’re selling a product or a food image, please have them like right away.”

[00:08:09] BB: What kind of images do you get? Like crap sometimes where they’re like, “Oh, wait a second. Yeah. We got this one that we took four years ago.” Does that ever happen?

[00:08:17] CR: Well, there’ll be some that they’re just not as high res, and they maybe will be attached or embedded in the email. It’s not as common. Like usually, when I follow up and I ask for high res images, they’ve planned for this release, so they’ve taken good photos. So I know they exist. It’s just on the off chance when you have to like circle back and ask. It sounds like I might be complaining, but it’s another moment in your day, where I can’t just like forward this to a writer and be like, “Oh.” They’ll be like, “Oh, there’s no images.” Then it’s like you have to go back and forth.

 

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Jered is the co-founder, COO and support manager at OnePitch. He handles operations for OnePitch; along with strategy, support, business development and hiring. He studied Communications with an emphasis in marketing at Cal State University Long Beach. In his free time, he enjoys surfing, eating cheap street food, cooking, and exploring the outdoors.

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