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    Coffee with a Journalist: Emmy Liederman, Adweek

    Today on the podcast, we’re chatting with Emmy Liederman, agencies reporter for Adweek. Emmy started at Adweek as breaking news and audience engagement intern in May of 2020 before being hired full-time as an e-commerce reporter.

    During the episode, Emmy starts by breaking down the effects of cultural moments in pitches she receives, her personal thoughts on the best branding, what the best sources can do to reach her, and more.

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

    CWJ View Transcription CTA


    Her Work Inbox 

    [00:02:14] BB: It’s just a little. It's just a little nudge. I like it. Emmy, let's start with your inbox. How crazy is it in there with pitchers?

    [00:02:25] EL: Oh my gosh, well, I'm sure everyone in their mother knows about this by now. But Facebook, I don't even know how long it went down. But all Facebook products went down this week for like a few –

    [00:02:36] BB: It was mayhem, globally.

    [00:02:39] EL: For me, maybe I'm just being ignorant because it's not like that really affected my job too much. I mean, I don't really put my stories on Facebook or Instagram too often right now. It's a lot of Twitter. I think a lot of journalists are on Twitter. But I've been getting so many pitches about the Facebook outage and how it's affecting brands and how marketers can pivot and I'm kind of just tired. I wish that people just took a little bit of a break and like went outside.

    [00:03:11] BB: What are the pitches saying though? Like oh my god, no one could ship all birds this week. What's the pitch?

    [00:03:19] EL: I don't know. I guess it's just about social strategies and if Facebook is down for four hours, apparently you can't sell whatever salty snacks on Facebook for four hours and that's heartbreaking to these businesses. I don't know, it's just a lot of journalists were talking about this on Twitter. It's kind of like sometimes when there's a cultural moment, you have to brace yourself for the way that people will pitch to you. This is one of those moments. I don't really know how much of a cultural moment this was, but it was kind of like after the January 6 protests getting pitches about how do corporations speak on this and what do you do next and sort of brand campaigns? It's like you know, there's all during these social moments, there are always going to be some pitches that just missed the mark a little bit.


    Her Thoughts on Pitches



    [00:05:08] BB: Yeah, they get a bit off kilter. Now, what do you do with the pitches that land in your inbox? Do you ignore? Do you master lead? Do you file? What are you doing? 

    [00:05:18] EL: It depends on my mental health.

    “I think my favorite sources always explain things to me, like I'm five years old. I don't think that there's any benefit in journalism, of using a lot of flowery language, unless it really helps you explain things better.”

    [00:05:22] BB: That’s an honest answer. I love that. Because most people are like, “Well, I do exactly this every time.” And I'm like, “Really?”

    [00:05:27] EL: I don't really have an MO like some people. First of all, a lot of people think my name is Emily. I mean, it’s Emmy, and it’s not short for anything. It's just my parents gave me a nickname for some reason. It's kind of frustrating when people pitch to me, and follow up a bunch of times, and say my name, or spell my name wrong, because it's just annoying. Sometimes people were like, forward me the same pitch, like without any words, just like forward me the stuff from below and it's like, are you just – 

    [00:06:07] BB: Just a forward? Just to forward, no note in the forward?

    [00:06:09] EL: No like, “I hope you're doing well”, whatever, I guess they're just trying to get straight to the point. So, I try not to be rude. I think that's a good thing to strive for in life. I try not to be an asshole. If there are some, I think pitches, when you can tell they're genuine and like someone put time into them and they didn't just spray and pray, I really try and answer. I think that a lot of journalists are trying to, because it can be overwhelming to have all these pitches all the time and feel like you have ties to people in PR from across the industry. I think that a lot of journalists nowadays are trying to just have really close connections with like a few folks, and they'll go to them if they need a source or something like that, or whatever. So, that's what I'm trying to do. I guess that's not a great answer.


    How She Writes Stories

    [00:07:24] BB: You don't. But it's hard to find them when there's too many. I mean, for your story inspiration, like I'm looking at your links here, you have something on Dawn, you have something on Nestle, you've got a beauty brand, you’ve got – spans the spectrum, hot sauce. How do you get the inspiration to do a piece?

    [00:07:48] EL: Yeah, that's a good question. I think that when I started at Adweek, the thing that I was told by my editors is every time you write a story for us, and imagine a reader looking at it, they should take away something beyond just what that information of the campaign was about. They should take a marketing lesson, some sort of lesson about how to engage with a certain sector of the populations, advice on what not to do in their job. So, I think that it's not worth writing stories that don't teach lessons, because every publication wants to stand out to readers and be helpful, and do more than just regurgitate press releases.

    “The most annoying sources always, I would say make sweeping generalizations without consulting enough people.”

    That's what I want to do is as a reporter, that's what all of my colleagues are interested in doing. So, I think that that's not to say that you can't have thought and write about silly things. But I don't know, the hots for example, the hot sauce campaign, I was about to draft, this luxury hot sauce brand and they did an out of home campaign in Philly, and they just put up a bunch of billboards that were like, the best cheese steak in Philly is blank, and people could vote on it. I thought that was just so clever. Because it's not really directly branding the hot sauce in your face, but it's getting people to think about the name and it's getting people really rowdy about something that isn't controversial, but in a way kind of is to locals in Philly.






    Pitches that land in Emmy’s inbox have a higher chance of success if they’re written simply and directly. Her stories also include lessons that readers can actively learn from and implement. Keep these points top of mind if you plan to pitch her.

    For more great 1:1 conversations with journalists from top-tier outlets, subscribe to the Coffee with a Journalist podcast newsletter to get the latest episode drops and exclusive video content. Also, don’t forget to follow us on Twitter for other updates on our newest PR tips, tools, and best practices.

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