Joining us this week on Coffee with a Journalist is Manasa Gogineni of VentureBeat. As…
Our guest on Coffee with a Journalist this week is Terry (T.L.) Stanley of Adweek. T.L. is a a Los Angeles-based senior editor at Adweek, where she specializes in consumer trends, cannabis marketing, plant-based food products, pop culture and creativity. During the episode today, Terry talks about one of her biggest pitching pet peeves, how she is constantly communicating with sources, her favorite afternoon beverage, and lots more.
Click below to listen to the full conversation and read below for highlights from the interview:
Her Work Inbox
BB: Oh no! Oh God! Well, how do you keep your Inbox clean then, are you one of those master leaders or do you let it ride?
TS: It kind of stresses me out when I have too much. But I think back, when they send me something, they want me to cover it. They’re not necessarily saying, “Can you funnel it?” but that’s just what I do.
BB: Yes, I see. Okay. It’s not overt, “Terry, can you send this one?” Okay, yeah. That’s helpful. You did touch on your pet peeves, and you’re actually — you know what, we’re going to get into that in our little QA thing, so I’m going to hold on that.
TS: How much time we’ve got?
So people know me and they just bombard me with everything. Some of this stuff is not for me. It might be Adweek, but that doesn’t mean I have to write it.
BB: Yeah, how much time we’ve got? We got all day, Terry?
TS: I am the worst. I am so cranky. I’m so cranky.
Her Thoughts on Pitches
BB: Yeah. Okay, Terry, how many pitches do you get a day would you say?
The majority of the pitches that come to me say exclusive and here’s my answer to that, “Probably not. No, it’s not. Don’t even pretend. No, it isn’t so shut up. It’s not exclusive.” That bugs the crap out of me.
BB: Dozens. What I just picked up from what you just said in terms of, “Oh! Look at this pitch and it gives me the old news.” Do you open every pitch?
TS: Not always. It just depends on how much I have coming at me at once and how many deadlines I have. Sometimes I can tell from the subject line that that’s not for me. They have done a CC the world.
BB: Oh no! That’s bad.
TS: Yeah. Some of them, I can just quickly dispense without even opening. But very often, I will at least take a peek, because if it’s something that I could funnel to a colleague, if it’s worth covering. Then we all do quite a bit of that. It’s not my beat. But if it’s an Adweek story, why don’t I just kick it over to someone else.
But that is like pet peeve number five million whatever, whatever. If you send me a pitch, you are pitching me a story by telling me that other people have already covered it, yeah.
How She Writes Stories
BB: Got it. Okay. I hope that answers that question for our little audience ask. That’s good. Terry, for stories you do and you are quite prolific. There’s quite a bit that you cover from the cannabis, beer, ads, experimental experiences. I’m looking at your thing. I love this piece you did and this was earlier in April about the books, talking about the fake look moms give, the pretend like face. Okay, everyone needs to look at that because it is pretty funny.
But how do you decide to do a story and even like generate the idea for a story? Or are you fed enough pitches, and enough things from — you are the editor so scratch that. How do you come up with those ideas for a story, especially something like that?
The ideas come from all over the place. The problem with the way a lot of things get pitched to and specifically to me, they are of that variety, where the brand or the agency has their own agenda that they want to advance. But that may have nothing to do with what Adweek wants to do.
TS: In that particular case, I know that ad agency very well and I have a good open line of communication with them. Often, that’s how it will happen. I’ve been so kind of imbedded in plant-based food products, cannabis, breaking new creativity from ad agencies. I get a lot of just constant communication from those companies, and those spaces.
Her thoughts on embargoes, “What I always tell people is that, “You don’t decide. We decide.” Embargo makes me crazy, even though we don’t jump the gun.”
BB: Okay. I got it.
TS: And a lot of people that have dealt with me over time, especially really now my twisted sense of humor. They will flag things that they know I’m going to like.
BB: Yeah. I mean, this one is pretty hilarious. I want to drop it at our mom’s channel, in our Slack group because —
TS: People, when they follow me and when they read a lot of my coverage, I think they get the sense of what will appeal to me. So the good ones, the really good ad agencies, PR people, brand people will funnel things directly to me that they think I’m going to like.
BB: I see. Okay. A lot of it comes through that of agencies that you know and respect, and they know your humor.
BB: Just keep it rolling. Okay. This comes from Joanna Clark Simpson from a website called, pissedconsumer.com. It’s an advocacy website. Okay. I don’t know. But here’s the question. “Do you think consumer reviews could serve as a good source of information for the news article or article about the product? Do you research those?” I see, this is not exactly clear from this audience ask, but I think what’s being said is, “Do you Terry, like okay, you’re going to write about product X? Do you go around and look at the reviews of product X? Do you Google it to check out whatever people are saying about it, like consumer wise?”
TS: It depends on the story. It would probably depend on the product. I think that may be apply more to something that’s new, like a challenger brand rather than an established brand. But social listening is important for all of us. We constantly look at social media and reaction online to brands, marketing tactics, commercials, all of it. Very important. Yes, consumer reaction, consumer sentiment is very important to what we do.
When it comes to Terry’s preferences on pitching, she has 3 pet peeves that grind her gears. They are exclusives, embargoes, and prepackaged pitches. Make sure you’re crafting a personal pitch for each journalist you contact to have a higher chance of gaining their interest. To learn more about crafting the perfect pitch with examples, see our PR 101 eBook, The Ultimate Guide to Pitching.
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