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    Coffee with a Journalist: Catherine Perloff, Adweek

    Catherine Perloff is an Adweek reporter, covering ad tech, social media platforms, and their influence.

    During the episode, Catherine elaborates on the nuances regarding exclusives, how you can approach her
    with trend stories that she hasn't covered yet, why she values talking with sources regularly 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


    Importance of Great Subject Lines 

    [0:06:37] BB: Okay. But now, the thing that just caught my ear was once a week, you look at your inbox? No? You like scan and you like sit?

    [0:06:46] CP: Well, I mean, I look at it like every hour, really. But like once a week, I do like a more thorough read through of, did I miss any email? Because I'm looking every hour and seeing what emails I get, a lot of pitches. I'll be like, "Oh, this isn't that important for right now" kind of thing. But if I catch it, I mean, there's certain emails I'll get, and they could be from a PR person, and I'll be like, "Oh, this is interesting," and I'll read it immediately. Yes, I do kind of – the weekly sweep is more so just the ones that I kind of dismiss on first glance, should I give them a second, kind of thing.

    [0:07:17] BB: Got it. Oh, you're the first person I've heard that does a weekly sweep type of thing.

    [0:07:21] CP: Yes. I mean, it's hard to know what's the most effective strategy.

    [0:07:26] BB: I know, seriously. No one has the end all be all for sure. By all means, totally get it. Okay. Is there a subject line type that gets your attention? 

    [0:07:37] CP: I feel like – I mean, definitely, if it's like exclusive, because I mean, just because it's exclusive doesn't mean we'll cover it, of course, because it's like, is this something that's interesting to us. But if I'm going to cover something based on something that a company is putting out, like it does usually have to be exclusive to us. So that's definitely something that will catch my eye. If it is specifically about like a topic that I've written about recently, I guess it's sometimes though, like not – I mean, I look at it more often, though a lot of times, it can just be like, "You wrote about this, do you want to talk to this other person?" And it's like, "Well, I already wrote about it, so why not?"

    But yes, I feel like if it's on a topic that I've been covering in the past couple of weeks, that makes me more likely to read it, if that's in the subject line, if it says exclusive, or if it's from a company that I cover a lot, or if it's like a big company that like I haven't covered a lot, but is like a pretty big company. Maybe it's like a brand that wants me to speak with their CMO. It's hard to know when to take a meeting that it's just kind of a meeting without a specific purpose. But if it's a pretty big brand that I find interesting, I'm more likely to be like, "Okay.'' I'll meet with the person, that kind of thing. 

    [0:08:48] BB: Okay. So you'll meet with a person if it's a big grant.

    [0:08:51] CP: Or one of the roster companies I cover, maybe it's an ad tech. I am very interested in – you know, I covered Google and Facebook, and certain ad tech firms like the Trade Desk or whatever. If it was an email from them, I'll definitely read it, because it doesn't mean I'll like do anything about it, but I'll read it because they're kind of in my roster of companies that I keep tabs on.

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    Diving Into Exclusives

    [0:15:35] BB: Okay. Fascinating. Do you ever want exclusives?

    [0:15:38] CP: Yes.

    [0:15:39] BB: Okay. Tell us a little bit more. What's the how? What's the how?

    [0:15:42] CP: Yes. I mean, again, as I said earlier, I think if a company is doing something interesting, we want to be the one to exclusively tell it. Now, it has to be a big enough company, like just because often for us to write about it. But we don't want to be, if the story is being shared with a million other outlets, or even a couple other outlets, it makes us not likely to cover it. So it's sort of like a medium-sized company doing an interesting thing, definitely should be exclusive. And definitely, if it's not exclusive, we're not going to cover it.

    Now I know the risk is you offer an exclusive and maybe you've offered it and then like what if I take a little bit longer to respond, and then it's – so I try to get back to people in a reasonable timeframe, if I'm not going to take it. Because at the end of the day, like exclusive is sort of almost the minimum to cover something. And if it's just covering their idea – now, I mean, someone could reach out about something, and I could think it's interesting, and then that could come into like a larger story. The fact that this company is doing it in like a larger trend story. But if I'm going to just like do a story that is about a company, minimum kind of has to be exclusive, usually.

    I think the tricky part comes with like, if a company is doing research, because not – sometimes that research is interesting, and maybe we want to cover it. Certainly, we'd want to cover it exclusively, because usually, the research is a launching off point to talk about the larger issue that the research is studying. And so that, yes. So that research has to be sort of good enough that it feels like it could be sort of the [inaudible 0:17:13] story. Because sometimes, it feels like research is a little bit just self-serving to the company.

    [0:17:18] BB: Yes, exactly.

    [0:17:20] CP: That we want to be careful of not promoting, if it doesn't really feel legit.


    Rapid Fire Pitching Preferences

    [0:17:33] BB: Here we go. Video or phone interview?

    [0:17:36] CC: Honestly, I like – as far as I like phone better, especially if it's about something that is a little bit more sensitive, or private, or secret because I feel like people feel a little more on the spot with a video interview. Though like – sometimes this video interview can be nice to build a relationship too. But I feel like, sometimes I little bit prefer the phone, but either is fine.

    [0:17:57] BB: Okay. Bullet points or paragraphs in the pitch?

    [0:18:01] CP: I feel like just two paragraphs saying what you're talking about, honestly. If it has to be spelled out in bullet point, it's almost like too long.

    [0:18:10] BB: Okay. Too long and bullet points. Interesting. Well, the next. Short or long pitches? I would say short.

    [0:18:16] CP: Yes, exactly. Just like tell me what's going on. Don't say so little that it's okay, like I don't believe that you're talking about something real. You don't want to be like, "Oh, I have this great piece of news, email me back to learn more. It's like, "Okay, I probably just won't." But yes, like enough where I get what's going on. But don't give me all this information where I'm searching through the email to figure out what the point is.

    [0:18:41] BB: Yes. Okay. Images attached or Dropbox zip file.

    [0:18:46] CP: I mean, images aren't that important for the kind of reporting I do, because I'm not recovering campaigns or, maybe if there's a tech featured. I guess, yes, maybe making it like attach because it's – an image is usually not that relevant. But if it is relevant, like, I'm not going to do that much work to find it.

    [0:19:03] BB: Mm-hmm. Okay. You're not going to do the work. Email or X DM. Used to be Twitter DM.

    [0:19:11] CP: No, definitely an email. 

    [0:19:13] BB: Okay, email. Emails where it's at.

    [0:19:14] CP: Yes. I mean, I DM my sources to talk with them. I think it can be a good informal way to talk to people. But like, if you're going to send like a formal pitch, if it's over Twitter, I probably am going to think it's not legit.

    [0:19:26] BB: Yes. Okay. One follow up or multiple?

    [0:19:29] CP: I mean – oh, no.

    [0:19:34] BB: I think that is one.

    [0:19:35] CP: Because if you're following up, it's probably not a great sign. Honestly, sometimes people have followed up twice, and like I have seen it more so. So it's tough for me to say. Definitely not more than two though, because that's just gets to be a bit annoying. But yes.

    [0:19:51] BB: Yes, yes. very good. Okay. Press release or media kit?

    [0:19:55] CP: Probably press release. Again, just like getting to the point easier.

    [0:20:00] BB: Okay. Direct or creative subject lines?

    [0:20:02] CP: Direct.

    [0:20:03] BB: Okay. Any particular time for a pitch?

    [0:20:08] CP: I guess it depends. I mean, I feel like the day that I'm mostly going through my inbox is Thursday, because I feel like I'm less likely to publish a story for Friday, because like people read less stories on Friday. 

    [0:20:21] BB: Yes, exactly.

    [0:20:21] CP: [Inaudible 0:20:21] publish a story for Friday, but Thursday can kind of be my more like chill day. Like, I guess, Monday morning doesn't hurt, I think because, like I am looking more on Monday morning. And then, yes, Tuesday, Wednesday, like I'm really in my reporting, and like doing my stuff, so I'm more likely to miss stuff. So maybe beginning and end of the week, I guess.



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