This week on Coffee with a Journalist we’re joined by Lisa Lacy, the commerce editor at Adweek. Lisa focuses on retail and the growing reach of Amazon. As the sole reporter for Amazon, her stories gross 2+ million views annually.
During the episode, Lisa shares how little time she spends scanning her inbox, how she pursues the story behind the scenes, her interpretation of an exclusive, and more.
Click below to listen to the full conversation and read below for highlights from the interview:
Her Thoughts on Pitches
[00:06:05] BB: Okay. So quick speed pitcher, delete person here. Okay. Now, here’s always a question we’d like to cover. As an editor, it may be a bit different than the reporters we have on. So are you ever forwarding pitches? You do write quite a bunch of your own content still as well, so you’re also doing the writing? But is there a forwarding mechanism? Are you sharing it to reporters at all on your team? Or are you just – Yeah, how does that work for you?
[00:06:34] LL: Yeah, of course. I mean, I have a reporter who focuses on emerging tech and augmented reality. He also ended up doing a lot of buy now pay later stuff. So anything like Metaverse, NFTs, we’ll pass along to him. I’ve another reporter focus more on CPG. So I mean, he usually – I think all the CPG brands know him by now. But if there’s anything that lands in my inbox, I will – Sorry about that.
[00:07:00] BB: There’s another pitch right there coming in.
[00:07:03] LL: We’ll forward those to him. Then, I mean, if there’s something – I mean, I also feel like the TV editor has been in on that beat for an extraordinarily long time and is very well connected. So I don’t typically forward things to him because he’s usually on top of it already. But if there’s relevant news, like we have a reporter who – Sometimes, there are jump balls like plant-based meats or something that nobody really covers specifically, but there’s a reporter who likes it, so I get something about that. I might forward it to her, so, yeah, I mean, it’s just there.
[00:07:35] BB: So here or there, you do some traffic control it sounds like. Okay.
[00:07:39] LL: I don’t delete everything.
Her Thoughts on Exclusives & Embargoes
[00:09:45] BB: It is. I know and California. Hey, normally in California. Anyway, so that’s kind of the story inspiration. Do you ever get, and maybe this was a piece with the Barbie piece, exclusive or embargo pitches?
[00:09:59] LL: Yeah. We get embargoes all the time. Sometimes, I mean, I feel like it’s very –
[00:10:04] BB: Yeah. How do you feel about it?
[00:10:06] LL: I’m certainly open to embargoes. I feel like I’ve noticed recently that a lot of embargoes are coming in kind of at the last minute. So it will be something that gets sent at like 4:00 PM, and the embargo lifts at 7:00 AM.
[00:10:21] BB: The next day.
“I mean, I think it really just – The biggest problem I would say with the vast majority of the emails in my inbox right now is just that they’re not relevant.”
[00:10:22] LL: Yeah. They’ll say, “Sorry, this is so last minute but wanted to make sure we got this to you.” I have a colleague who thinks that it’s all planned, and they do this on purpose so that you end up just writing something quick on the release, and you don’t ask any questions.
[00:10:38] BB: Do you think that’s the case? What do you think about that?
[00:10:40] LL: Yeah, I think that that’s definitely probably part of it, at least some of the time. For him, he rejects the stories for that express purpose. It feels like you don’t respect him enough to get it over to him and let him do his job, he’s not going to cover it. I’m probably not that harsh. But I mean, there are times when it’s just like, “Look, it’s the end of the day. I don’t have time for this. Sorry,” kind of a thing. I mean, it’s obviously like if it’s Jeff Bezos leaving –
[00:11:11] BB: Then that would be something –
[00:11:13] LL: Yeah. Sometimes, you have to cover it, no matter what. But, yes, I do think we have caught on to that tactic of sending embargoes at the last minute.
[00:11:21] BB: Then what about exclusives? What is your preference there?
[00:11:27] LL: I had an editor once who would argue that an exclusive was only something that you dug up yourself through your –
Her Relationship Building Process
[00:13:01] BB: Lisa, on your Twitter handle, you’ve mentioned how you’re nervous, even when you’re on Xanax. So I love that vulnerability you put out in the world. Is there any way to build a viable relationship with you as a publicist?
[00:13:16] LL: Sure. I mean, I feel like I have – I mean, I’ve been doing this since Scott was a boy, so I have good relationships with a number of publicists. I mean, I think it really just – The biggest problem I would say with the vast majority of the emails in my inbox right now is just that they’re not relevant. Anything that we do as a newsroom see a lot of – It’s like the old spray and pray tactic, where there’s somebody who is just blasting out a release to the entire newsroom. I mean, I know it can be intimidating to a bully because thinking about like when I’ve pitched publications with like freelance ideas. I know it can be intimidating when you have like a cold pitch, but I don’t think it’s too difficult to do a little research and see who the TV editor is or who the brand’s desk editor is and to maybe route your pitch to the most appropriate person or at least. I just feel like we’re just inundated. It’s like that proverbial fire hose just every day, and most of them have nothing to do with what are – I mean, I get tons about like gift guides, so it’s here’s some products. Just about like holidays, Patrick’s Day, Mother’s Day. Here’s for your –
“I mean, there are times when I need sources. I need somebody to comment on something. I have my sort of established stable of people who I know I can reach out to who are going to get back to me, who are going to speak in plain English and not just shoot a bunch of jargon at me.”
[00:14:51] BB: Oh, boy. Okay. Wow, I learn stuff on here all the time. Okay, so don’t pitch you any gift guides. Noted on that front. But, okay, yeah. So, Lisa, if you got an email from someone saying, “Hey, I’m a publicist. Here’s who I rep. Could I keep you updated on my clients,” would that be a good way to build a relationship with you? Or is it, “Hey, I’m going to be in Atlanta. You want to get a coffee, like old school, face to face?” What would be the best way?
[00:15:19] LL: I mean, I guess it depends who the clients are. I’m certainly open to getting coffee with folks who are in Atlanta. I know it’s a little different than when I was in New York. But I mean, it’s like when it works, it’s like a mutually beneficial relationship, right? I mean, there are times when I need sources. I need somebody to comment on something. I have my sort of established stable of people who I know I can reach out to who are going to get back to me, who are going to speak in plain English and not just shoot a bunch of jargon at me. I mean, I’m certainly – I don’t want to keep going to that same pool of people all the time. That editor I mentioned before, he used to call it the penalty box [inaudible 00:16:04]. They’re going to go in the penalty box.
[00:16:09] BB: Oh, I see. Yeah, you got a mix of your sources.
[00:16:12] LL: Yeah. So I mean, I’m always up like if their relevant, if they’re intelligent. If they know what they’re talking about and can speak to the topics that I’m interested, I’m always willing to meet people. It’s just the problem is that there’s so much that isn’t –
Learn more about previous guests on Coffee with a Journalist, their pitching preferences, relationship-building tips, and more in our journalist spotlight videos available for free on YouTube.
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