This week on Coffee with a Journalist we’re talking to Erica Sloan. Erica is the lifestyle editor for Well+Good. She writes and edits articles about sleep, sex, astrology, travel, careers, financial wellness, and other elements of daily life that intersect with one’s well-being. Click below to follow Erica Sloan on Instagram and LinkedIn.
During the episode, Erica provides her top 3 recommendations for the perfect pitch, why funny subject lines don’t grab her attention, her thoughts on embargoes & pitch lead time, and more.
Click below to listen to the full conversation and read below for highlights from the interview:
Her Inbox & Pitches
[00:03:17] BB: Oh, how fun because as wellness evolves, so then does all your coverage because tomorrow it could be mushroom facials. I don’t know, all these things, all these things. Who even knows? Okay, Erica, your inbox, how is it in there?
[00:03:33] ES: It is a little wild. I would say that I fall somewhere in between the 50,000-plus unread craziness, which would totally send me spiraling, and an inbox zero, which is really what I aspired to but never have. So I would say I get around 250 to 300 emails a day, and the vast majority of those are from publicists.
“I would say the biggest way I’m using pitches is, yeah, what you mentioned about being on top of trends and newness, but then also going back to those pitches for experts and products.”
[00:04:02] BB: Yeah.
[00:04:03] ES: Yeah. So currently, I have 209 in there, but this is because I did not clear this out last night or this morning. So that’s my current number is 209.
[00:04:17] BB: Got it. It sounds like you don’t hit the magical zero. But how do you then manage these? Do you file? Do you flag? What do you do?
“…I am our Lifestyle Editor, and the lifestyle vertical is definitely a mushy mishmash of topics. It is wide. But essentially, I describe it as I cover everything that falls at the intersection of your daily life and lifestyle and your wellness or wellbeing.”
[00:04:27] ES: 100%. I am a religious email filer. I have probably about 25, 30 folders that I file as many emails as I can I’d say. Keep my plain inbox around that 200 or 300 mark maximum. Then the other thousands of emails that are in my inbox have been opened and then filed into one of these many folders. The reason I do that is because my coverage area is so broad that it would just be really difficult to keep track of the newness, the brands, the experts, the products across my areas of coverage, if I didn’t have some sort of filing system. So it does help me keep things organized. I think this was a major boon of Gmail when I switched to my current job versus Outlook, which makes this incredibly hard to do. But I progressed.
[00:05:27] BB: It sounds like you do your own searching within your email.
[00:05:30] ES: Right. I am constantly searching within my email. Yes.
Her Thoughts on the Perfect Pitch
[00:05:47] BB: Aspirational sometimes, but still, but still. So what for you, Erica, is a good pitch?
[00:05:54] ES: Yeah. So I would break it down into having some clear, timely element, some news element or timely element for why this should be covered now, a clear wellness hook, so a reason why this needs to be Well+Good and should be me, and then a clear action item of some sort. So what is this one client that you are putting forward? Is it a product that’s new? Is it a product you would like a review on? Is it a brand that you would like a profile on? Is it an expert whose insights you’d like included in a piece?
“But either way, I’m going to open it, and the reason why I mentioned clear straightforward [subject lines] is because then I already know what I’m getting when I open it, and I can quickly decide where this needs to be filed. It just reduces the amount of time between opening the email, knowing what it is, and filing it, which saves me time in my day versus the slight delay of having to untangle that headline, figure out what it is, laugh at it, find the relevant piece of information, and then file it.”
So a clear action item, this is something where, for me, I actually really prefer one client, one email, which I know is not necessarily what a lot of PR folks do. It’s not necessarily the most efficient way. But for my filing system, it is so helpful to have an email centered around a singular client that I can then put in the right box.
[00:06:58] BB: That’s a good insight. So I know, for example, there’s quite a number of agencies that represent all types of stuff within the spectrum of wellness, or they’re in hospitality. They have 17 hotels or whatever. So one at a time.
[00:07:12] ES: I love one a time. I understand sometimes that might not be so feasible. If it is, like you just said, I’m thinking travel, often hospitality. There’s a ton. Occasionally, grouping them if they are related is fine. Or if there’s a bunch of newness at once, I totally understand that that really does make sense on the PR side of things. So not religiously one client, one email, but it is helpful, especially if there’s a lot to say about a particular client, like just use one email. Don’t slide other things in there. It gets overkill pretty quickly.
Her Thoughts on Embargoes & Exclusives
[00:10:44] BB: Okay. Okay. This is good to know. Straightforward, you got to keep it to that. Do you ever want an exclusive?
[00:10:52] ES: Yeah. I think we occasionally do an exclusive. It’s not the end-all be-all for our coverage, and it won’t be necessarily problematic if we don’t have it. I think this one really depends on the brand, the item being something that feels really squarely Well+Good feels really something that our voice is the most important voice to be talking about this item.
I’m thinking of an exclusive that I wrote on the opening of the ranch in Hudson Valley for next year, and that was announced. When I saw that, I was like, “Well, yes, wellness travel falls within my wheelhouse. The ranch is a huge name in wellness travel, and this is an opening that feels like, ‘Okay. Well+Good could grab that exclusive.’” But at the same time, we’re not only taking newness if we can have an exclusive on it.
[00:11:45] BB: Got it. Okay. Rather similarly, embargoes, do you ever want that? Some people are like hard-nosed, but you tell me.
[00:11:55] ES: Yeah. I think if there’s an embargo, we do our best to respect it, so totally open to that.
[00:12:01] BB: Okay. Open to an embargo. Now, how much time do you want, though, for an embargo or an exclusive?
[00:12:06] ES: Yeah.
[00:12:07] BB: Ideally.
[00:12:08] ES: Another thing that varies. I would say my average would be around, I’d say, comfortably a week ahead of time so that we can adjust our editorial calendar. I can speak to any relevant experts. Usually, a week allows enough time for that, maybe two weeks if it’s a busy time, and that amount of time is available for that. But bleed time definitely varies. Sometimes, I’m writing something as quickly as that day or the next day. Sometimes, I am going back to it several weeks or even months later.
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