Today’s guest on Coffee with a Journalist is Jeena Sharma, a retail reporter at Morning Brew. Jeena covers retail and consumer trends from the B2B perspective for the Retail Brew newsletter. She was previously the beauty editor at Paper Magazine and a fashion and beauty writer at Nylon.
During the episode, Jeena shares about reader feedback, her honest advice for sending her pitches, how she seeks inspiration for her stories, and more.
Click below to listen to the full conversation and read below for highlights from the interview:
Her Thoughts on Pitches
[00:05:27] BB: So no acknowledgment. You need to add fuel to the fire on them. Now, what about pitches? So you get tons of pitches. Jeena, you cover quite the spectrum because it’s those deeper dive pieces, but it’s funding startups for beauty and retail pieces. You’re talking about DSW, so legacy brands. It’s wide. Do you respond to every pitch? Do you mass delete? What do you do?
[00:05:50] JS: I try to respond to pitches I think that seemed like it’s coming from a person either that I’ve worked with before, or it’s a pitch where it feels like the PR person who’s pitching to me has actually read the work that we do because sometimes they can be so off base. So usually, I respond to that. Like the other day, I got a pitch from someone who is like this ex detective who now investigates fake reviewers on Amazon, and I was like, “What do you think I write about? Because that’s not what we cover.”
“I try to respond to pitches I think that seemed like it’s coming from a person either that I’ve worked with before, or it’s a pitch where it feels like the PR person who’s pitching to me has actually read the work that we do because sometimes they can be so off base.”
[00:06:23] BB: Yeah. I’m going to be generous with maybe the person of like, “Oh, it is a very long stretch, but I could see where they’re maybe going.” If you were going to maybe do – it’s a long stretch.
[00:06:33] JS: Yeah. Sometimes you have to just not respond.
“Just don’t try to bury the lead and don’t try to trick me. At the end of the day, if I want to write the story, if I think it’s interesting, I’m going to write it.”
[00:06:37] BB: Okay. You just don’t respond. Okay. Do you do any filing of them? Do you ever come back eight months later to something?
[00:06:42] JS: That has happened. Usually, it’s embarrassing. It’s when I miss something, and I’m like, “Oh, this would have been a great story.” But I’m a human being. So sometimes, I miss great pitches, and I go back, and I’m like, “I’m so sorry for my extremely late response eight months later.”
Her Thoughts on Subject Lines
[00:07:08] BB: That’s good. That’s good. Okay. So for subject lines, is that important for you to see a gripping subject line? Do you look at the subject line as the indicator for you’re going to open the email?
[00:07:19] JS: Yes. I mean, the best subject lines are really, as I’ve said, they’re very to the point. So the other day, I got a pitch from this beauty brand that was raising money, and they were like “Embargo: This beauty brand is raising 250 million,” subject line. I’m interested, so I opened the email. Yeah. Sometimes, the subject lines are just two sentences, and I’m not going to open that because –
[00:07:47] BB: No, no. Okay.
[00:07:48] JS: Figure your shit out.
Her Thoughts on Exclusives & Embargoes
[00:13:06] BB: I do love it? I do love it. Well, Jeena, is there a position you have with exclusives versus embargoes? Do you like exclusives?
[00:13:15] JS: I love exclusives and I love when PRs are upfront about it from the beginning. This can be –
[00:13:23] BB: This is an exclusive. Just to be clear, what is an exclusive defined to you?
“I love exclusives and I love when PRs are upfront about it from the beginning.”
[00:13:29] JS: Like news about certain a thing that a brand is doing, whether it’s funding news, or it’s a new feature that they’re adding to the portfolio, a new brand that they’re adding to their portfolio. All of that is great, great exclusives.
[00:13:47] BB: Do you, though, feel an exclusive is you’re the only one with the news forever? Or some publicists think like, “Oh, it’s exclusive.” But two hours after, your story goes live? I’m just going to pitch everything under the moon under it. Or are you one of those reporters? You’re like, “I don’t care once my piece is out. I don’t care what you do with it.” Or try to pitch.
[00:14:06] JS: I think yeah.
[00:14:07] BB: You’re more on that front. Okay.
[00:14:09] JS: The latter, yeah.
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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