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    Coffee with a Journalist: Conz Preti, Business Insider

    Conz Preti, Senior Editor for Freelancers at Business Insider, covers parenting, health, college life, and sex and relationships. 


    During the episode, Conz talks about the juicy personal stories she writes about, a reliable source who works with clients to prepare stories before they land in her inbox, why she always agrees to embargos that are relevant to her beat, and more.


    Follow her on LinkedIn and Twitter.


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



    CWJ View Transcription CTA


    What to Include in a Pitch


    [00:05:57] BB: Oh, dang. Okay. Specific pitch called out in caps right there. What is the
    narrative of this thing? Okay. Then when you open up that pitch, what do you want to see in a

    [00:06:10] CP: I want to see a little bit more about the story. Give me a little bit more context,
    why it matters now, right? In this example, the person said – this is a pitch that I actually
    accepted. She says, “I want to write about why we've chosen to delay giving him a smartphone,
    including my own experience of feeling addicted to mine.” There’s like more layers to the story.
    Then it ends with who this person is and some of their sample writings.

    Also, just to be clear, if this is the first time that you're writing, I don't care about your previous
    clips not necessary. If you have them, share them, great. But if you've never written before, that
    doesn't disqualify you from pitching me.


    [00:06:58] BB: Okay. Good to know. Now, that pitch that you were talking about is someone
    who's seeking to write it like a by-line. This is a freelancer, so this isn't a pitch from necessarily a
    PR person. What's the break show or breakdown of freelancer pitches because you're an editor
    versus just PR folks?

    [00:07:18] CP: Good question. I think it's probably like 70% writers, 30% PR. I've worked a lot
    with PR in the past. I'm always like ask – when I get, let's say, a product pitch or a company
    pitch, I'm like, “Okay, but what is the story behind the founders, or why did the founders decided
    to create this?” I always feel like there's a really interesting story. People have really interesting
    stories beyond sort of like their business pitch. That is what I'm most interested in. We can talk a
    little bit about the company, but I want to know what human connection we can pull out of the
    story that my audience is going to be into.

    I get a lot of pitches of like, “There's a new podcast coming out,” or, “Here's this new newsletter
    by this famous author.” I'm like, “Well, I can't really cover that. But this person probably has a
    really interesting story. Why don't we talk about that and then sort of put a line or two about their
    new launch or their new whatever into that story?”

    [00:08:26] BB: Okay. Then process-wise, how do you batch out, let's say, a PR pitch that you're
    like, “Ooh, okay. I like this. Okay, I want to give it to one of my reporters, though.”? What does
    that look like? I think this is the murky world of like, “Ooh, editors.” It’s like, “How are they doing
    the traffic control over here?”

    [00:08:44] CP: Right. Because so many of my stories are essays usually or reported essays,
    we try to have the person write it, right? For example, we're working now with a couple
    podcasters in the parenting world, and they were like, “We actually don't have the bandwidth to
    write it.” We’re like, “Okay, great. I have a reporter who is excellent doing as told tos. That
    means that she will interview them and then write it in first person, as if it was them writing the
    story.” We will, obviously, put in the story this is an as told to. It was told to this reporter, et
    cetera, et cetera.

    That is the workaround that we found for sort of the stories that I do which are essays. We also,
    obviously, have a ton of reporters in-house. I have a correspondent who works mostly on
    parenting and health stories. We would use her for more sort of in-depth reported pieces, not
    necessarily, like I said, a human connection story.


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    Conz's Experience With Experts


    [00:10:30] CP: Another thing I love, there's one PR person that I work with a lot. She will pitch
    me and say, “I have already gone ahead and asked my client to write sort of a couple
    paragraphs for you to get a sense of where she's going.” She sent me that. Nine times out of
    10, I will accept her pictures because she works with the client before coming to me to make
    sure that it is a Business Insider story, that it has our tone, it has sort of the flow that we're
    looking for. Then we just – yes. It's just easy from there.

    [00:11:06] BB: She shows you not the whole thing but the snippet, the like, “Hey, I've already
    punted this down the field. You know me. It's looking good.” Yes.

    [00:11:15] CP: Yes. It’s usually – she works a lot with experts. For example, this one that I'm
    talking about that comes to mind now is a water safety expert. So the whole pieces about how
    parents need to prepare themselves for water safety. This person has a personal story related to
    why she became a water safety expert. That’s what I mean, where we can lean into someone's
    story and showcase what they do.

    [00:11:47] BB: Okay.


    [00:12:14] BB: You mentioned experts. We also talked about, oh, yes, okay, the sex and
    relationship story narratives. But do you have a little roster of experts you're always looking for
    on speed dial?

    [00:12:26] CP: We're always looking for pediatricians, just because we do a lot of parenting
    content, pediatricians and child psychologists. We do a lot of – for example, let's say some
    celebrity. Here’s an example. Mila Kunis said that she didn't bathe her kids every week. It was
    like a big –

    [00:12:42] BB: Yes, yes. I remember that. It was weird.

    [00:12:45] CP: What we did was like, “Okay, she said this.” We went to a couple pediatricians
    and said, “What do you think?” The story was like, “Mila Kunis doesn't bathe her kids on a
    regular basis.” Three pediatricians agree that it's not necessary. I can't remember exactly what
    story was.

    [00:12:59] BB: Oh. Three out of how many?

    [00:13:01] CP: I mean, I made that headline up. I can't remember if it was three, whatever.
    Basically, the story was pediatricians were agreeing with her that kids didn't need to be bathed
    as often.

    [00:13:08] BB: Got you. Got you. Got you.

    [00:13:10] CP: We do a lot of those stories where we see something trending, either because
    it’s celeb or influencer said or did or whatever. Then we go to a pediatrician. We go to experts
    and we're like –

    [00:13:21] BB: What's up?

    [00:13:21] CP: Hey, what do you think about this? We want to expand the story, right? We don't
    want to just cover what everyone else is covering of like so and so said and did this. We want to
    be able to give our audience more actionable info of like, “Okay, I remember that she did this,
    but I shouldn't be doing it or I should be doing it.”


    Rapid Fire Pitching Preferences


    [00:18:40] BB: Yes, noted. Okay. Conz, I have a list of some rapid-fire questions. Are you

    [00:18:46] CP: I am ready.

    [00:18:47] BB: Let's see here. Video or phone interview?

    [00:18:51] CP: Phone.

    [00:18:52] BB: Bullet points or paragraphs?

    [00:18:55] CP: A mix of both.

    [00:18:57] BB: Okay. A mix of both. Okay. Short or long pitches?

    [00:19:00] CP: Short. I prefer short than long. Yes.

    [00:19:02] BB: Got you. How short?

    [00:19:04] CP: Let’s say like two short paragraphs.

    [00:19:07] BB: Images attached or Dropbox zip file?

    [00:19:10] CP: Attached.

    [00:19:11] BB: Email or XDM or any DM of any sort?

    [00:19:15] CP: For pitches, email only. I will forget about pitches –

    [00:19:20] BB: Anything else. Yes. One follow-up or multiple?

    [00:19:23] CP: Multiple because, my inbox situation.

    [00:19:27] BB: Yes, yes, Okay. Direct or creative subject lines?

    [00:19:31] CP: Creative.

    [00:19:32] BB: Creative. Okay.

    [00:19:35] CP: Yes.

    [00:19:36] BB: Could you elaborate on that because that's a rare answer? You want to hear
    that little snippet of a story we just heard with the son, the 13-year-old who doesn't have a

    [00:19:44] CP: Yes. I also had examples of bad.

    [00:19:48] BB: Oh. Please share, please share. Don't mention names, of course. We never do
    that. But, yes, what do you got?

    [00:19:54] CP: I have one that says, “New pitches, Disney and more.” I'm like, “What?” I know
    nothing about what I'm getting into. There was another one that only said timely pitch, nothing
    else, which we kind of talked about.

    [00:20:08] BB: That was the whole subject line, by the way? Tell us the pitch.

    [00:20:09] CP: That was it.

    [00:20:10] BB: No, no. That’s hard. No.

    [00:20:13] CP: Then another one that said, “Solo travel client submission.” Again, I know
    nothing. I don't know who your client is. I don't know why Business Insider would care. I think a
    better way for that one would be pitch, and I'm going to make this one up, woman has traveled
    to all countries by herself and shares her tips on how to solo travel. I would click on that. That is
    more creative, right? That's what I mean by creative. I don't need a joke. I don't need a pun. But
    I need more of like you at least look at what Business Insider would like, and you try to emulate

    [00:20:50] BB: Okay. Thank you for those samples. We like it. Thanks for the exploration on
    creative versus timely pitch. Press release or media kit?

    [00:21:02] CP: Press release.

    [00:21:04] BB: Okay. Any particular time for pitches that you read?

    [00:21:07] CP: You can pitch me at any time of the day, but don't pitch me on a weekend
    because when I come back in on Monday –

    [00:21:16] BB: Oh, it's gone.

    [00:21:17] CP: It’s exploding and it's going to take me forever. I like midweek pitches more so
    than – don't pitch me late on a Friday because I'm not going to –

    [00:21:28] BB: Yes. Who – No. Yes. That's not going to work. That's not going to work. Okay.
    We did cover this with the sources, but is there anything more on the sources or experts or
    something at all you want to hear?

    [00:21:39] CP: I mean, look. I –

    [00:21:40] BB: That’s not pediatricians, but yes.

    [00:21:41] CP: I love an expert that can expand the story. We recently had someone who was a
    funeral home director for 11 years write a piece about what people get wrong about what
    happens after we die, so technically an expert. We've never had someone like her writing for us,
    and our audience loved it. I'm open to all experts if they want to sort of expand on a story or
    come with a different approach.

    We do use more pediatricians, child psychologists, relationship therapists, and stuff like that,
    just by the nature of the stuff that we publish. But I'm here for other experts. If you do a quick
    Google search, you can see, “Oh, has Business Insider ever worked with TK expert?” If we
    haven't, then that's a great pitch to pitch me your client because we can experiment and see
    what happens.



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