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    Coffee with a Journalist: Alexa Mikhail, Fortune

    Alexa Mikhail is Fortune's health and wellness reporter covering life, health, mind, family, and more.

    Alexa talks about the launch and coverage behind the team at Fortune Well, the who/what/why for pitches and sources she looks for, why introductions with her go a long way, and more.

     Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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

    CWJ View Transcription CTA


    What She Covers

    [0:02:45] BB: Well, again, thanks for being here. Alexa, for those who maybe aren't as familiar, how old would you describe Fortune's content and then more specifically, yours?

    [0:02:53] AM: Yeah. Fortune is a business magazine. Been around for a long time. Just about a year ago, last July, we launched Fortune Well. That vertical really covers everything health and wellness. I started with the team about a year ago as a health and wellness reporter under this vertical. We have a small but mighty team and really, we're focused on how to connect with our readers in a way that helps them feel better and work smarter. As we talked about before, it's really just a pivotal time where we're talking so much more about what it means to work, what it means to feel better. I think there's this intersection of mental health and work. That's what we're focused on.

    We do have some main pillars. Health, which is just general; breaking health news, mind, so anything, not only from mental health, but also brain health and psychology and happiness, stress and burnout, and then family, so that covers caregiving and life, so that's exercise and nutrition. Then I've also been really honed in on our newest pillar, which is aging well, so anything from aging and [inaudible 00:03:55], which we're talking so much more about and seems to be really top of mind for people. For me, personally, though, I am really most passionate and interested in mental health, workplace, wellness, and that aging and longevity bucket.

    [0:04:08] BB: Yes.

    [0:04:08] AM: Yeah. Anything where we can really make people feel better, do better at work. There is that workplace angle, which ties in our business Fortune audience. We also cover a range of things that don't necessarily need to be tied to business.


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    The Types of Sources She Looks For

    [0:07:58] BB: You're mentioning some of the experts, it sounds like you to hear from. What's the total list if you want to disclose? Whom do you wish to hear from? Doctors, but like, any more specifics that we could illuminate?

    [0:08:11] AM: Yeah. I definitely think experts are key for a lot of our stories, because as I mentioned before, we're really focused on helping people in their day-to-day lives. I think that a lot of times, our stories usually have attached to them tangible tips, tangible ways people can improve their lives. I think that again, general doctors are always helpful if we're doing a health story, but I would say, along the lines of workplace wellness, it's if someone's an author of something new with this new strategy on how to combat multitasking, for example, or someone that has a new interesting strategy for the workplace.

    I would say, yes, doctors, experts have credentials, but also, let's say, we're thinking about wellness at work. Well, maybe it's one step further, they just came up with this interesting program where they're really trying to have co-workers be able to engage with one another, or something in a hybrid environment. I think experts are great, but I think if they can bring something that really hasn't been out there, that obviously catches my attention. Yeah, I would say just overall, interesting authors. I try and look through a lot of the books that I'm pitched. Yeah, that's helpful.

    [0:09:18] BB: Yeah. Okay. Oh, and so authors. Okay. I'm sure fancy people with MDs, PhDs, etc., behind them. Not just like, “I wrote a book.”

    [0:09:28] AM: Yeah. I mean, I think that there's a wide range of experience that we look at that classifies as an expert. I think just lived experience is also really important.


    Rapid Fire Pitching Preferences

    [0:13:40] BB: Okay, Alexa, I have a quick little speed, rapid fire question session here for you. Are you ready?

    [0:13:50] AM: I'm ready.

    [0:13:51] BB: Video, phone or in-person interview? We just touched on it.

    [0:13:55] AM: I know. I would say, to be quick, in-person is great, but I honestly do a lot of them over the phone. It's just easier to be able to record and take notes and make it as easy as possible.

    [0:14:05] BB: Mm-hmm. Exactly. Bullet points, or paragraphs in pitches?

    [0:14:09] AM: Definitely bullet points.

    [0:14:10] BB: Okay. Why?

    [0:14:11] AM: I think that it just is really easy for me to be able to grasp all the information and not miss anything when it's in bullet points. Even if you highlight, or bold certain things like the expert, or the specific angle right away, then that also helps within the bullet points.

    [0:14:26] BB: What types of sources do you look for and how do you want them pitched to you? I know we talked about lived experience and the doctors and everything. The last person I just talked to was like, lawyers and bankers. I mean, fascinating story on that front. But, I guess, the question is from a publicist perspective, how do you like that pitch? Even though we know you'll read everyone, but what's the pitch that you're like, “Yes. I want to book a call”?

    [0:14:49] AM: Yeah. I think that a source that really stands out to me is someone who either has a new study coming out, a new book coming out. They really specialize right in workplace wellness and mental health and aging, or longevity. They have an interesting perspective and relevant perspective to share and potentially, also a timely perspective to share as well. I think that just outlining who they are, what they've done right away, either attaching their study, or the title of their book is always helpful for me to take a look.

    [0:15:23] BB: Title of the book. Drop it in. Okay. Images attached, or Dropbox zip file?

    [0:15:27] AM: Definitely attached.

    [0:15:29] BB: Why is that?

    [0:15:30] AM: I don't know. I think it's just easier for me to click on it right – clicking to another tab.

    [0:15:35] BB: I know. Same. Same. I don't want to log into a thing and then it asks me a thing and da, da, da, da, da. Yeah. Exactly.

    [0:15:40] AM: Left clicks are better. Fewer clicks.




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