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Coffee With A Journalist: Ilyse Liffreing, Ad Age

Coffee with a Journalist: Ilyse Liffreing, Ad Age

During episode 22 of the Coffee with a Journalist podcast, Ilyse Liffreing sits down with host Beck Bamberger to discuss the journalistic journey that brought her to Ad Age. Ilyse is a Social Media Editor and Reporter covering various advertising topics including how brands operate in the social media space. In their talk, Ilyse discusses her gracious email rapport, her use of pitches to spot trends, and her tenured internship experiences that allowed her to defy the journalism odds. 

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


Her Work Inbox

Beck:

That’s for dang sure. How does your inbox look, Ilyse? We like to talk about what’s in there, how many pitches you’re getting, how do you keep it clean, et cetera. Tell us what’s going on in there.

Ilyse:

Yeah. Right now it’s summer, so it’s not as crazy as it is during the year. But, roughly I can get around … It’s hard to say, but if I do miss a day of work for whatever reason, I’m out, or sick, or something, I definitely have at least 300 emails waiting for me the next morning.

Beck:

Oh gosh.

Ilyse:

So, it’s busy.

Beck:

Yeah. How many are pitches, though?

Ilyse:

I would say the majority of them are pitches, for sure.

Beck:

Oh, a majority? Okay. What do you do with those pitches? Are you one of those people who reads every single one? Or, you do the mass delete to get to inbox zero? What would you say?

Ilyse:

I have to look at each and every one. I don’t know if it’s just a compulsion of mine, but I have to feel like I need to know what everybody’s pitching me, because I don’t want to miss anything, I don’t want to accidentally pass over something that could be really good. So definitely, I’d have to check every email. All of my emails are read, in my inbox.

Her Thoughts on Pitching

Beck:

Wow! Now then, what do you do? If you see a pitch you do like, do you respond to it right away, do you star it? What do you do?

Ilyse:

It depends. Usually, I have to check first with my editor, to see if a story is of interest to us, so he has to approve. Sometimes, I will just email them back and be like, “Listen, I have to check with my editor about this, but this is really interesting. We might be interested.” Sometimes, I’ll say that. Other times, I’m pretty sure I’m editor will approve it so I will just say, “Yes, when can they talk?” Or just, “We’re interested, and we want to get this ball rolling.” It’s different every time.

Ilyse:

I try to respond as much as possible.

Beck:

Wow, you’re one of those! My goodness. That’s great.

Ilyse:

Yeah, I try to. Sometimes, it just doesn’t work out.

Beck:

That’s impressive. I don’t hear a lot of people say that they even make the attempt to reply. And then, there’s definitely quite a handful of folks who just do the mass delete like, “Oh, I don’t know you? Boom, gone.”

Ilyse:

Yeah, that seems too rude for me. Maybe I’m too nice, for a journalist. I like PR people in general, too.

Beck:

Oh, that’s … Look at that! Great. What do you find redeeming about such people? These are the people listening to the show right now.

Ilyse:

Yeah. They understand what we want to hear, basically. I’m impressed, a lot of the time, by the pitches that I receive.

How She Writes Stories

Beck:

What does it take for you to come up with a great story? Let’s say you get all those pitches, you see something. You’re like, “Oh! Yeah, that’s a cool thing, and let me run with it,” from a pitch? Or, are you starting from … Do you go into Twitter and you go down a rabbit hole and you’re like, “Oh, okay. Now I’ve got to talk about this, and I’m just going to go ahead and do that?”

Ilyse:

Sometimes it is like that. Sometimes I do go down a rabbit hole and I want to include everything in the story, basically. I just can’t. Often times, if I just keep looking for things to include, I’ll just keep including them and it just gets too long.

Ilyse:

But, what I’m really looking for, a good pitch has … At least when I write about social media and things that are happening, I’m focused on trends a lot. So any pitches that have recent examples of brands and what they’re doing on social media, if it’s part of a trend, those are the really helpful pitches that often becomes stories.

Beck:

You’ve been doing a lot on Animal Crossing, for example.

Ilyse:

Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Beck:

Now with that, did any of these recent pieces you’ve been doing, do those come from pitches? Or, was that just you doing what you do, to research and dig in?

Ilyse:

I’ve done a couple roundups about Animal Crossing, and then a few separate stories. Some of those came from pitches, and then others I found on my own. Basically, I was pitched one story about an Animal Crossing experience, and then maybe the next day I was pitched another one. Then it was oh, there might be a trend going on here, let me see if I can find others on my own. That’s how it became a story, because I was able to find some others.

Beck:

Got it. Is that often the case? Does this happen for you, where okay, maybe something started with the pitch, then you see it somewhere else, but then you see it again. In other words, are there sometimes multiple indications that you should then do something, that then compels you to make the story happen?

Ilyse:

For sure. Yes. Mostly, that does come across in PR pitches, at least with news that has not been reported yet. That’s where I realize, “Oh, there might be something here, I should take a look at it because this many people are pitching me about this.”

Beck:

Yeah. That’s a good barometer to see, “Oh shoot, everyone’s talking about Animal Crossing,” and you have extensively covered that. So, there you go.

Beck:

Frankly, I didn’t even know that there were brands making their own worlds on there, I just learned that in one of your articles. Wow, look at that. Custom Animal Crossing islands, who would have thought?

Ilyse:

Yeah, it’s a fun one.

______

Similar to how identifying the best journalist is critical to a public relations strategy, choosing the best media channel to use is just as key in a media relations strategy. Still, not all media channels are equal in benefits and costs. Learn more about the histories, advantages, and disadvantages of different types of media in our recent blog, The Pros & Cons of Different Types of Media. We break down the key information about Print, Broadcast, and Digital media for you to start a strong media strategy. Also, don’t forget to subscribe to the podcast and follow us on Twitter to stay updated on the latest podcast episodes and blog releases!

Mathew Cruz

Mathew started at OnePitch in January of 2020 as a Marketing Apprentice. At OnePitch, he handles content creation from social media to the OnePitch blog. Mathew studied Integrated Marketing Communications at San Diego State University. In his free time, he loves creating art, visiting museums, and traveling.

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