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    Coffee with a Journalist: Elisabeth Sherman, Parents

    Elisabeth Sherman is this week's guest on the show, and she's an associate editor at Parents whose expertise focuses on family, parenting, internet culture, food and drink, and entertainment. 


    During the episode, Elisabeth walks us through what she recommends PRos do before pitching her, the nuances of pitching a product versus expert commentary, how she keeps her inbox organized in her new role, and more. 


    Follow her on LinkedIn and X/Twitter


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




    CWJ View Transcription CTA


    Get to know Elisabeth and Parents' Coverage


    [00:00:40] BB: Welcome, everyone. This is Coffee with a Journalist. I'm Beck Bamberger. We do this little fun show because we all publicists are trying to know how to better work with our media and journalist friends. Maybe sometimes not friends, let's call them colleagues. But how we can make our working relationship better is what we want to do. 


    With us today, coming all the way from Jersey, is Elisabeth Sherman. She is the Associate Editor at I bet you have a lot of parental knowledge to infuse in us, Elisabeth. So excited to have you here. Hi. 


    [00:01:16] ES: Thank you. Hi. Thank you so much for having me. 


    [00:01:19] BB: Yes, exciting. Now, you were previously freelancing, and you've also been an adjunct instructor at Columbia, no big deal. You’ve done a couple of things. First off, perhaps, I know it's fresh in the job that you just got to from associate editor. Congrats. How would you describe, though, for everyone who's, of course, listening what covers?


    [00:01:44] ES: Everything that we do at Parents is very science and research-backed. We're not going to be that site for the parenting hot take. We do news coverage. You will see responses to big parenting news events, but it's going to be backed by maybe a new study that came out. Maybe we're going to get a doctor to weigh in. Everything that we do is very expert-backed. 


    Absolutely, there's a place for kind of that personal essay about parenting. Lots of parenting sites out there do that, but we do that a little bit less. We're kind of going to give you a lot of information answering questions that you might Google in the space of your pregnancy. What medications can you take while pregnant? What are things that are safe for toddlers to eat? Kind of that more informative type of thing, obviously, we do. 


    If you go on the site, we do a lot of fun stuff. Like I said, responses to news and things like that. But it is going to be more of that kind of research and expert-backed material. 


    [00:02:45] BB: Which is great. Don't we all need that? Yes. By the way, are you a parent?


    [00:02:51] ES: I am. I have –


    [00:02:52] BB: I can hear the kids in the background. I was like, “I hear somebody.” Okay. 


    [00:02:56] ES: Yes. I have a two-and-a-half-year-old, and she's in the living room right now watching cars, so you may hear her. 


    Elisabeth's Freelancing History and Diving Deeper into Her New Role


    [00:03:00] BB: Love it. That's – love it. Love it. Okay. You just got there, Elisabeth. So I'm sure or at least I'm going to hope your inbox is not too busy. But how is it?


    [00:03:12] ES: I would say my inbox is pretty wild at all times. 


    [00:03:16] BB: Really? Oh. 


    [00:03:18] ES: It is. Yes. 


    [00:03:19] BB: God, you didn't even have a day where you're like, “Oh, one email.” 


    [00:03:23] ES: No, no. 


    [00:03:24] BB: Wow. Okay. By the way, how? How did people already find you? 


    [00:03:27] ES: What happened was I was freelancing as a commerce writer. When I started at Parents, pretty much everyone who had been pitching me when I was a freelancer just started pitching me immediately for this new position. There wasn't really any lag time there, and so yes. I mean, I'm pretty public about my contact info, and I sort of like to be transparent. Yes, it just kind of started right back up again. Yes. 


    [00:03:55] BB: Wow. Okay. So because of your history freelancing, you already were getting those pitches. Now, people are like, “Oh, holy cow. She's full-time somewhere. Hi. Hi.” Okay. Oh, I don't think we've had this before necessarily. When you're a hot take, you just got there. What are the pitches of the people who have previously been pitching you as a freelancer now like? Is there any difference of like, “Hey, I heard you got the new job. Congrats, and here's my pitch.”? Or business like usual, no one even cares. 


    [00:04:23] ES: I think it's definitely a mix. I think when I did start and I had waited a little bit to say anything on social, I did get a few very kind and polite people reaching out and saying, “Hey, I saw that you started this new position. Are you ever open to grabbing coffee,” sort of that kind of thing. But then a lot of people were just back in my inbox like, “Hey, business as usual.” 


    [00:04:45] BB: Okay. Business as – they have not missed a beat. They are doing that. Okay. So then do you have – I'm sure as a freelancer, you had to have such a system. But maybe it's changed, so let's get into it. How do you organize then the pitches? 


    [00:05:01] ES: Yes. That's such a great question. I think my strategy for a long time was just folders in my email that would be publicists I want to work with. I would actively filter folks that I thought down the line I might want a reply, too. That didn't necessarily mean they were going to get a reply the day that they emailed me or even the week that they emailed me. But they were going to be there if an appropriate story came up. 


    If a publicist pitched me a story on a product that I really wanted to try or learn more about, I would save that until it became appropriate. So I would sort of search for certain brand names in my inbox and see who popped up that way and save those kind of in a separate folder for publicists who represented certain brands that I wanted to maybe explore more. But I'm not necessarily amazing at organization. I would say once a week, I'll sit down and take an hour and just go through my inbox and dedicate some time to that to clearing it out and responding to what I want to respond to. 


    [00:06:08] BB: Oh, okay. You can – now, I don't hear that too often, like a once-a-week cleanse. 


    [00:06:13] ES: A cleanse. Yes, a cleanse. Yes. 


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    Rapid Fire Pitching Preferences


    [00:17:22] BB: Noted. Thank you for telling us that. Okay. I have a quick-fire list of questions, Elisabeth, that I'm ready to give you if you're ready. 


    [00:17:31] ES: Absolutely. 


    [00:17:32] BB: Let's do it. Video or phone interview?


    [00:17:35] ES: Oh, phone every time. 


    [00:17:38] BB: Oh, yes. 


    [00:17:39] BB: Where is the art of the freaking phone? Can I not tell you how relieving it is just to have the voice? Oh, it's so good. I'm with you on that. I'm with you. Okay. Bullet points or paragraphs in a pitch?


    [00:17:51] ES: Oh, my goodness. I'm going to go with bullet points, but I will say I don't see that very often. Most people give paragraphs. If more people want to send me pitches with bullet points, I would love that. 


    [00:18:02] BB: Yes. Bullet points are coming back. Okay. Then I imagine. Short or long pitches? Short. 


    [00:18:07] ES: Short, yes. 


    [00:18:08] BB: Email or a DM of any sort?


    [00:18:11] ES: I'm going to go with email, so everything is centralized. But I do get pitched on Instagram, and I don't hate it. 


    [00:18:18] BB: Oh, really? Okay. That's a unique answer. Okay, okay. Noted. Direct or creative subject lines?


    [00:18:26] ES: Direct. 


    [00:18:27] BB: Okay. Press release or media kits?


    [00:18:30] ES: Oh. I would say if you're an expert and you have a wide range of interest and expertise, like if you're a pediatrician or a lactation consultant, media kit is great because then I can get a sense of all your publications and what books you've written and where you've spoken before. Even though that kind of goes against what I just said about short and sweet, if you're an expert, a media kit is totally fine with me. Otherwise, press release if it's a product. 


    [00:18:59] BB: Anytime that you specifically read pitches?


    [00:19:01] ES: All day. I'm doing it all day. 


    [00:19:03] BB: All day, all the time. Okay. We already covered sources. Is there anyone else that's just valuable for you right now? A lot of times, people on here are like, “You got the names. You got the MD person. You got the fancy person.” But just like anybody else? 


    [00:19:18] ES: That's a good question. I would say any kind of – I did say doula. A doula doesn't require a medical degree. If you're a therapist and you're not like that straight MD that – I'm always interested in talking to mental health experts because I think they can apply to so many different stories. Yes. I think in that realm I'm very interested. 


    [00:19:43] BB: Okay, noted. Elisabeth, is there anything lastly that we can celebrate, highlight?


    [00:19:51] ES: Let’s see. 


    [00:19:51] BB: [inaudible 00:19:51]. Yes. Anything going on. 


    [00:19:55] ES: Yes. I think right now, I am – we had a back-to-school pitch meeting. But if you have back-to-school anything, experts on how to deal with back-to-school stress, experts on the best products for kids for back to school, cut-off would be – also, I didn't mention the cut-off – 


    [00:20:16] BB: Yes. What’s the cut-off? 


    [00:20:17] ES: The end of high school, so we don't really do anything past high school. 


    [00:20:20] BB: Yes. You got the big kid section. But, yes, I noticed that. Yes. 


    [00:20:25] ES: Anything with back to school, whether it's a product or an expert who can talk about back to school, I will have some stories to assign that I'm sure will need experts. If you've got a back-to-school thing going or a back-to-school news hook, definitely get in touch. 


    [00:20:40] BB: Okay, back to school. God, isn't that so sad in a way? It's hardly even – we're filming this or taping this on end of May or in the end of May, and it's like, “Oh, you're already doing the back to school. What happened to summer? What happened?” 


    [00:20:51] ES: I know. I know. I know. I saw someone even say they're looking for pitches for the New Year. 


    [00:21:00] BB: Oh, no. 


    [00:21:02] ES: I know. 


    [00:21:02] BB: No. 


    [00:21:03] ES: Yes. I was like, “Working ahead, respect.” But that's crazy. 


    [00:21:08] BB: Respect but also disgrace. Elisabeth, thank you so much for being on today on our lovely little podcast. Elisabeth Sherman, Associate Editor of Thank you so much. 


    [00:21:21] ES: Thank you so much, Beck. Thank you. 



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