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    Coffee with a Journalist: Jessica Bursztynsky, Fast Co.

    On this week's episode of Coffee with a Journalist, we have Jessica Bursztynsky as our guest. She is a staff writer at Fast Company and covers topics related to the gig economy and consumer internet companies. 

    During the episode, she will discuss her strategies for connecting with sources, the importance of subject lines in her work, her preference for phone calls before agreeing to embargoes, and more. Learn more about her and her work on Twitter and LinkedIn.

     

    CWJ View Transcription CTA

     

    Relationship Building 101

    [00:06:34] BB: Okay. So, that's a relationship-building question, which let me ask you now, given that you are moving to San Francisco, so I think it does depend on life changes. Are you open to having coffee, dinners, even lunches, happy hours, et cetera? Is that a way in which people can make relationships with you?

    [00:06:54] JB: Yeah, absolutely. I feel like that's genuinely, probably the best way to do it. Because you really get to take half an hour, an hour, an hour and a half out of your day, and really connect one on one with this person. I think kind of both shows both sides, your intentions. So, I can say, I'm here to work with you and I want to put out the best and most accurate story with the information you can provide. I want you to think of me when things are happening within your company to want to come to me and be able to trust me.

    So really, I think it's just a great time to show like, hopefully, I am a person you can trust and connect with. 

    “It's also good sense to ask the person you're with, who are your colleagues I should be connecting with? Or how is your company's team breakdown? So, who should I be reaching out to for this specific topic? Rather than this other topic?

    Because I think I've noticed with a lot of these large tech companies, everyone is in charge of different things, and you don't really want to be wasting anyone's time by going to the wrong person.

     

    Exclusives or Embargoes?

    [00:13:02] BB: Yeah, yeah. Okay. exclusives or embargoes?

    [00:13:08] JB: Oh, yeah, always.

    [00:13:08] BB: Always. Okay. Well, preferences, usually for exclusives. But do you have any embargo do's and don'ts?

    [00:13:18] JB: Embargo do's and don'ts. Great question. Usually, it's amazing if you do get an embargo if the company is willing to give you even just a very brief interview with some of the key players, because sometimes, with embargoes, they'll say, here's this press release, this is all you get, and it includes, maybe one quote that has probably been looked through dozens of times by like legal teams and comms teams and all of that. 

    “Even just asking to have just a quick phone conversation with the person who's the manager or the product designer, whoever is in charge of this specific announcement, just really, really get a better sense of why this update or piece of news is important, rather than just you know, regurgitating a press release. I think is really, really helpful.”

     

    Rapid Fire Questions

    BB: Okay, here we go. Video or phone interview?

    • JB: Video.

    BB: Bullet points or paragraphs?

    • JB: Bullet points.

    BB: Short or long pitch?

    • JB: Short.

    BB: How short?

    • JB: Well, it depends if they're saying, we have embargo news for you, or because sometimes people will say I have news under embargo, and then they send me the entire bit of news and I feel like that isn't really the point of an embargo. 

    “So, they're like, ‘Hey, we have the story coming up. Are you interested? Let me know by this date.’ Amazing, or just a very, like a few sentences. ‘Hey, I'm working with this company on this item. Do you think you would want to learn some more information?”’

    BB: Yes. There you go. Okay. pitches in the morning or at night?

    • JB: I've been asked this before, and I don't really know if I have a preference.

    BB: Okay. Well, then what about – what do I have here next? Oh, images attached or Dropbox zip file?

    • JB: Attached. Because I am skeptical of links.

    BB: Same. Email or Twitter DM?

    • JB: Twitter DM.

    BB: Okay. One follow up or multiple?

    • JB: One, because sometimes things do fall in the cracks. Sometimes I have missed emails that I wish I had gotten to a few days prior. And that follow up is genuinely really helpful. But then sometimes a person will follow up five times, and I feel bad and I feel like at that point, I should have just responded in the first place and said, thank you so much, but this isn't really related to what I do.

    BB: Yeah, direct or creative subject lines?

    • JB: Direct.

    BB: Press release or media kit or neither?

    • JB: Media kit.

     

    ________

     

    Learn more pitch tips and insights from previous guests on Coffee with a Journalist in our journalist spotlight videos available for free on YouTube.

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    Click below to subscribe to Coffee with a Journalist and receive weekly emails highlighting reporters, journalists, and editors and their individual pitching preferences.

     

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