Today’s guest on Coffee with a Journalist is Eli Tan, an NFT reporter for CoinDesk. Elijah covers NFTs, gaming and the metaverse.
During the episode, Eli talks about the many NFT pitches he receives (spoiler: 300-400 per day), what he looks for in pitches, the types of sources he enjoys speaking with, and more.
Click below to listen to the full conversation and read below for highlights from the interview:
His Thoughts on Pitches
[00:03:01] ET: My inbox, it’s a little bit of a disaster. It’s a little bit of a headache. NFTs being my beat and being kind of the beast they are, right? I just get a ton of pitches every day. I probably get 300 or 400 emails a day.
[00:03:16] BB: Wait. Wait. Wait. Wait. What? 300? 400 a day?
[00:03:18] ET: Yeah, probably 300 to 400 a day. Most of which are pitches every day to kind of look through and sort through though. It’s certainly a tall task, I think, every day to look through. But there’s a lot of gems in there every day as well. A lot of stuff. It’s never like I can’t find something.
“Obviously, subject line, if it captures me, I’m going to look at it. If it’s an embargo and exclusive, I typically am going to follow up with it just to kind of see what’s going on.”
[00:03:33] BB: Eli, how do you navigate then those 300, 400 pitches a day?
[00:03:39] ET: I mean, I’m going to be honest, I don’t have time to go through each one and kind of read through the depth of the entire pitch, right, and look through the entire press release. Obviously, subject line, if it captures me, I’m going to look at it. If it’s an embargo and exclusive, I typically am going to follow up with it just to kind of see what’s going on. And then if it’s sent from somebody that I have kind of rapport with, I’m going to of course look at it. I would say that’s kind of the process for me.
And then I also have a telegram inbox, which it’s a great way to reach people. On Twitter, I say that’s kind of my main form of communication. Anyone that that goes – Look at my Twitter, look at my bio, add my Telegram. Like, I’m going to honor that effort as well.
[00:04:25] BB: What is in the Telegram versus in your inbox? Is there a difference in the distinction of pitches in there?
[00:04:32] ET: Yeah. With Telegram, it’s a messaging platform. It’s kind of like texting someone. So, typically with email, you’ll have like two or three back and forth. And there’ll be kind of like big things. Like, if I’m sending someone email, like, I’m trying to get my questions in because I don’t know when they’re going to respond. But with Telegram, it’s a little bit more casual. It’s more like, “Hey, I got a pitch about this. Do you want to see it?” I’d go, “Yeah. Sure. I have questions about something.” Like, we can just kind of be messaging in real time. That’s why that’s kind of my preferred mode.
His Thoughts on Subject Lines & Sources
[00:05:42] BB: Okay, star system. We’re going to – This is new terrain on the show. The star system. Okay, we’ve had flags. We’ve had the inbox zero people. We’ve had just let it ride, 497,000 unopened emails, and so forth. There is no method in which journalists seem to control the inbox. So, okay. What is the subject line, though, that gets your attention? Like, what are the components of an amazing subject line?
[00:06:10] ET: I mean, if you’re somehow connected to like one of the major crypto narratives going on, like I think that’s interesting. Like, if you can kind of – Because that’s something that journalists look for is the narratives, right? Like, we’re not just like – We don’t want to just be summing press releases as promotions. Like, we want to be able to fit these announcements into kind of the larger story and like make it interesting for the readers, right?
“If you’re someone that’s like has a client that’s interesting and can offer up an interview, like that’s something that I’m always going to look into, even if I can’t necessarily fit it into the story.”
If a publicist kind of already does that for me, that’s great. Like, that makes it I think clear to me like why over that story. I get a lot of people that they work with prominent names or interesting names. I love to interview people. Like, I think adding quotes from interviews really makes my stories interesting. If you’re someone that’s like has a client that’s interesting and can offer up an interview, like that’s something that I’m always going to look into, even if I can’t necessarily fit it into the story. I love just kind of talking to as many people as I can.
[00:07:03] BB: Hmm, gotcha. Now, what would you classify though as interesting?
[00:07:07] ET: I mean, not even – Like, most people would probably say, “Oh, you only want to talk to celebrities.” Really, like, anyone with just like an interesting background that’s kind of like worked at some cool companies.
I did a profile the other day on this guy, Nikolai is name. And we met in Miami at a crypto conference. He’s kind of an unassuming guy when you first meet him. But I learned that he had kind of this crazy background of – He played professional poker. He worked at like all these different companies, Google doing AI, doing machine learning. He worked in professional baseball doing statistics. All these really interesting things. And by no means that he’s someone that is a celebrity. But just like hearing his story, like, I think there are so many people like that that are in crypto and NFTs. And it’s cool to just hear how people kind of got to this point.
[00:07:54] BB: Okay. It doesn’t mean that you have to have an A-lister celebrity to get a call booked with you or an in-person coffee as you were mentioning earlier on our videos.
[00:08:07] ET: Yeah. No, not at all. I mean, if you’re a publicist, like, look at your founder. Like, figure out their story. And I’m someone like – If I ever see someone that’s from Seattle – Because I’m from Seattle. Immediately, I will talk to that person because I just – It’s that type of thing. It’s like the little details.
His Thoughts on Exclusives & Embargoes
[00:08:21] BB: Yes. Excellent. Oh, that’s so good to hear. Okay. You mentioned a little bit when we were doing the video little portion of our series here. I believe you did exclusive, embargoes. Oh, no. When we were talking about the pitches and what you open. Okay. What do you think about exclusives? Do you want them? Do you hate them?
[00:08:39] ET: I love exclusives.
“I think that’s [offering an exclusive] the best thing you could do. One, it’s like a relationship thing. Like, I’m offering you exclusive news. I want to give it to you.”
[00:08:40] BB: You love an exclusive. Okay.
[00:08:41] ET: They’re the best thing you can offer to a journalist as a publicist.
[00:08:45] BB: Okay. You will accept those. Gotcha.
[00:08:48] ET: Yeah. I think that’s the best thing you could do. One, it’s like a relationship thing. Like, I’m offering you exclusive news. I want to give it to you. I value your writing and outlet and audience more than like the others. I’m giving it to you.
[00:09:02] BB: It’s kind of a big gesture. I would agree with that.
“All interesting news is going to be embargoed under some degree.”
[00:09:04] ET: It is, yeah. And like, on some level, like exclusives are kind of shopped around. Like, you’ll get pitched. And then you’ll say, “I’ll do it.” And then they’ll say, “Oh, well, I already offered it to someone else.” And then it’s like –
[00:09:14] BB: Does that happen though? Does that –
[00:09:16] ET: That happens a lot. I face that a good amount.
Learn more pitch tips and insights from previous guests on Coffee with a Journalist in our journalist spotlight videos available for free on YouTube.
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