Our guest today on Coffee with a Journalist is Jae Thomas, a shopping reporter at Mashable. Jae covers kitchen goods, pet products, and fitness gadgets.
During the episode, Jae starts by sharing more about their coverage and the team at Mashable, why they love pitches that are straightforward, how you should structure your subject lines for them, and more.
Click below to listen to the full conversation and read below for highlights from the interview:
Their Thoughts on Subject Lines
[00:04:26] JT: I do look at every single subject line though. We’ll talk about that.
[00:04:32] BB: Yeah, let’s talk about that. So is the subject line key to an open?
[00:04:35] JT: Yeah, absolutely. I will not open an email, unless there is a subject line that’s targeted towards me. I can’t open every email. If I spent all day looking at those, it would literally take me all day, and I wouldn’t be able to write anything. The subject line is definitely the most important thing when pitching me and other ecommerce journalists as well, just because we’re dealing with such a high volume of emails. We’re dealing with products. Everyone wants to get in our inbox. So, yeah.
[00:05:01] BB: What’s a good subject line for you, an openable email subject line?
“I will not open an email, unless there is a subject line that’s targeted towards me. I can’t open every email.”
[00:05:06] JT: An openable one will definitely have the product name or the brand. It’ll be straightforward. I don’t love like angle subject lines, like trying to get – I get a lot of these words like trying to relate to a –
[00:05:21] BB: Cutesy?
[00:05:22] JT: Yeah. Like cutesy or trying to relate to like a pop culture moment that doesn’t really relate to the brand. So I don’t love that, but I just love a straightforward one. Like if you’re pitching me a deal, put the product name and tell me that it’s a deal in there. If you’re pitching mea review opportunity, put that it’s a review opportunity with the brand name. As ecommerce journalists, like it’s kind of our job to find what the angle of the story is. So I don’t really need the angle –
[00:05:49] BB: Okay. So you want simple. You want it clear. You want the name of the product.
[00:05:53] JT: Yes.
Their Pitching Requests
[00:05:53] BB: Okay. I do like that. Now, if you have that and now you open the email, what are the elements, maybe three, we’d like to ask three, of a really slam dunk pitch I will respond to level.
“On a normal day, I typically receive around 150 to 200 PR emails. So as you can imagine, that’s quite a lot of things to go through.”
[00:06:07] JT: Let’s see. I love it when pitches are based on other stories that I have written. I love to know that the PR rep that I’m talking to is familiar with my work, especially if like a brand that you’re pitching is super similar to something that I’ve written in the past reference that like, “Let me know that you’ve read this, and you think that this brand could be a good fit for something similar.” That’s like a really easy way to get me to agree to try your product out or to write about it.
I also really love pitch emails that are formatted like a story. I love to see like headlines. I love to see links really high up in the pitch. As an ecommerce journalist, if you get me to open it with your subject line, I’m looking for a link right away. I want to look at the product. I want to read the –
[00:06:56] BB: Yes, link the product. Link the product, yeah.
“I like to see like what we call like an H2 headline, which is basically a big title and like title. Give me bold. Give me titles. Just make it easy for me to skim through.”
[00:06:59] JT: Photos are also great.
[00:07:00] BB: I was just going to say. So you want photos. Do you want links? Or do you actually like attachments? I know that’s a debate as well sometimes.
[00:07:06] JT: I don’t mind attachments. You could include both, definitely. If you have like a one-sheeter on your brand or your product, you can go ahead and include that. But I’m definitely going to look at the link first.
Their Thoughts on Exclusives & Embargoes
[00:14:12] BB: Oh, okay. So we didn’t talk about that. I usually ask about how do you feel about exclusives and embargoes. So tell us what you feel on that.
[00:14:18] JT: Yes. I love exclusives and embargoes. I especially love embargoes for deals around shopping holidays. It helps so much to know what’s going to be on sale on what way and at what price. It helps me actually free write a lot of the deals post so that they’re ready to go before the shopping holiday hits. So it’s really nice to get deals embargoes ahead of time, and I’m actually working with some deals embargoes now for Prime Day, which obviously I can’t tell you about.
“My favorite sources always send me embargoes and exclusives, and put the brand name in their subject line.”
[00:14:47] BB: No, of course. Of course. Its’ not the day yet, no.
[00:14:50] JT: Yes. I also love embargoes and exclusives for new product launches, especially if they’re brands that I’ve covered before or product types that I’ve covered before. My lead time for reviews –
“I prefer embargoes. I prefer to know when a launch is happening, when the embargo is lifted. It does make me feel like I’m getting ahead of the curve.”
[00:15:01] BB: Yes, that was my next question.
[00:15:03] JT: It’s usually pretty long, and we can fill in the blank on that. But just the more time I get, the better.
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