Kathryn Lundstrom is the sustainability editor at Adweek where she covers marketing and advertising news through a climate lens.
During the episode, Kathryn talks about the types of people and companies she’s looking to speak with, why pitches that use plain language are best, where you should actually be sending guest articles, and more.
Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.
Click below to listen to the full conversation and read below for highlights from the interview:
Subject Lines that Work
[0:04:14] BB: So then, I know you open as you're just mentioning every single email that comes through. But what delights you in a subject line where you're like, "Oh, can't wait to read that one."
[0:04:34] KL: I was like, I was thinking about this and trying to think about what would be actually helpful because I was like – sometimes it's just the kismet of working on something and then having a relevant pitch come in as I'm working on it. That's what's wonderful. I'm like, "You know, I really need an expert on the FTC green guides" and then I get an email pitch that's like, "Expert on FTC green guide." Then I'm like, "Oh my God, amazing. This is perfect." That doesn't happen that often. It does once in a while. But yes, I think the things that really catch my eye usually are data because I feel like this space is – I feel like that's kind of a reliable hit for our readers maybe. People want more data, and more research to back up their sustainability work.
[0:05:31] BB: Yes. What kind of data though? I feel like everyone wants data, but not if it's spaghetti.
[0:05:37] KL: Yes. Yes. That's fair because there is – when I get to like the fourth or fifth report on the same exact topic, like that Gen Z wants to buy more sustainably or whatever. That stops being relevant after a certain point. I guess, marketers are interested in how people are engaging with topics around sustainability, right? There's kind of a wide range of things that are relevant, but it does have to kind of have something a little bit new. I mean, like Morning Consult pitched me something recently that was on how often Gen Z are using plastic water bottles despite their towards more sustainable lifestyles. Stuff like that can be interesting. I didn't end up writing about that one, but that one caught my eye when it came in.
[0:06:27] BB: Okay. Okay. For the actual then pitch, so a pitch that you're like, "Yes. Now, I want to respond." What does such a pitch include?
[0:06:37] KL: Yes, I was trying to think about this, again. The reports that are really relevant to what I'm working on are – I always look through those. Then like, connections to sources that I really want to talk to, obviously. Those are also very interesting. But I feel like what it really – if it's not a person or a company that I'm familiar with, in that first pitch, it's so helpful to have in plain language what that company is and what it does. I feel like, especially in this kind of wonky climate space, I often get these pitches where it's like, "This company, with this goofy name, with too many consonants is revolutionizing XYZ using technology, " stuff that it's so vague in the jargon that it's impossible to tell without doing a good amount of legwork what it is.
"I understand that sometimes, that wording is something that's decided at a certain level. But man, it's really helpful to just have a plain language. This is what they do. This is what they do for their clients. This is what they do for marketers. This is what they do for brands."
How am I going to have to explain that to readers because that's going to require some translation already? Plain language is awesome.
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Relationship Building 101
[0:11:28] BB: Kathryn, for someone who doesn't know you, maybe they're like, "But Kathryn, I never go to Austin. How will I ever form a relationship with you, et cetera and so forth?" How best can people build a relationship with you?
[0:11:44] KL: Yes. I was thinking about this too because there are a few PR folks who have followed them from brand to brand even, they're really good at just bringing me timely stuff, which is awesome. I was looking back at when this one PR professional first reached out to me, and it was on – it was a really clear subject line. It was about the Colgate recyclable toothpaste launch. I was like, "Oh, interesting." That's a brand that we would pay attention to, like big CPG brand. Making something recyclable, that's relevant to me.
Then we connected and she was just like, "Hey, let's just jump on and talk about it." Sometimes I have time for that, sometimes I don't. I did in this case, and then she was like, "Look, I actually really care about this stuff, and this is my area too." I feel like she's one of the few people who works in this little niche, where PR overlaps with sustainability. She knows the space well, so I kind of trust her instinct when she brings me pitches now, which is rare, but really cool when it works.
[0:13:02] BB: That is great. Do you want to name that person, by the way? Give her a shout-out. Put her out there.
[0:13:06] KL: That's Lauren Dam, she works for EPCM.
Rapid Fire Pitching Preferences
[0:13:10] BB: Video or phone interview?
- [0:13:24] KL: I could go either way. It's more what other people are more comfortable with, but I'm happy with phone all the time. I mean, we don't have to be putting makeup on before we do this.
[0:13:32] BB: Bullet points or paragraphs?
- [0:13:36] KL: Bullet points.
[0:13:36] BB: Short or long pitches?
- [0:13:39] KL: Medium, short.
[0:13:41] BB: Images attached or Dropbox zip file?
- [0:13:49] KL: Dropbox file, I would say because then they'll be usable. Big enough to actually be usable for a story.
[0:13:59] BB: Pitches in the morning or at night?
[0:14:04] BB: Email or Twitter DM?
[0:14:05] BB: One follow-up or multiple?
[0:14:09] BB: Direct or creative subject lines?
[0:14:14] BB: Press release or media kits?
- [0:14:17] KL: Probably press release, honestly.
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