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    Coffee with a Journalist: Phoebe Bain, Ad Age

    Phoebe Bain is a senior reporter at Ad Age covering influencer marketing and DTC brands. She joined Ad Age from Morning Brew where she helped found the Marketing Brew vertical.

    During the episode, Phoebe talks about familiarizing herself with her new-ish role at Ad Age, crafty subject lines that caught her attention, meeting up in person with sources, and more.

     Follow her on Twitter and LinkedIn.

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

    CWJ View Transcription CTA


    Psychology of a Good Subject Line

    [00:07:56] BB: Is there a type of pitch that you love to receive, like in its format or in its delivery, like the subject line being extra juicy? I don't know. 

    [00:08:15] PB: Typically, this is kind of a weird one. But I do think that it will make somebody open it and read it a little bit closer. I wouldn't necessarily say I have a large social media presence. I think I use social media like every other millennial woman out there. 

    I have an Instagram that I post on once a month. Maybe I'll do a story every other day. I have a Twitter, obviously. We’re journalists, we're big on Twitter. Although TBD on my blue check, I think today is the day that those are finally going away. But anyways, I have like some degree of social media output, right? 

    Occasionally, PR people will slide into my inbox with like my dog's name in the subject line, like something – say that it's like a birthday cake company. My dog's name is Guava. They would say like, “Guava’s birthday?” Or something because I post about my dog on social media a lot and really just getting to know the person that you're emailing. I'm sure it might not be the most efficient thing for a PR person to do. 

    "But if somebody had a pitch, they really, really wanted me to make sure that I kept a close eye on, including personal details about my life is kind of a surefire way to get me to open. Again, like I really think it's just a brain or psychological thing."

    Immediately when you see something like that, you're like, “How do you know my dog,” right? So you're going to pay a little bit more attention? Yes. I don't know. It's interesting. Again, I think that's just a psychological tactic, but I'm not invaluable to it.


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    Relationship Building 101 

    [00:12:13] BB: For those, you're alluding to it already, Phoebe, wanting to make a relationship with you, maybe they don't live in New York. But maybe they're going to come in town or something, and they're not going to try to dangle or get your attention with your dog's name. Is there a way to build that relationship with you? Or is it going to take three lunches and an afternoon tea? I don't know. 

    [00:12:34] PB: I’ve had meetings with people, right? Whether it's a comms person, an executive, or just a comms person, or just an executive, where we do a happy hour or we do a coffee, and we just immediately hit it off and click. That doesn't have to happen 10 times within the year. That just had to happen once, and then those are sort of in the back of my mind when maybe I need a source at a specific company or insight on a specific topic, that type of thing. So I just think making the most of the real-life moments that you have with people is kind of all you can do in those situations. 

    [00:13:07] BB: Okay. So see if she can be in-person. By the way, coffee, happy hour, dinner, lunch, what's your specialty?

    [00:13:15] PB: It's good question. I mean, I don't want to say happy hour because then that's exclusionary to people that might not drink. But I've gotten many a mocktail at happy hours, rather than a cocktail with PR folks. 


    Rapid Fire Pitching Preferences

    [00:17:23] BB: So it’s just real quick. Yes. Let’s play it and see how it goes. Okay. Video or phone interview? 

    • [00:17:29] PB: Phone. 

    [00:17:30] BB: Bullet points or paragraphs?

    • [00:17:32] PB: Bullet points. 

    [00:17:33] BB: Short or long pitches? 

    • [00:17:36] PB: Short. 
    • [00:17:36] BB: How short? 
    • [00:17:38] PB: A couple bullet points. 

    [00:17:40] BB: Images attached or Dropbox zip file?

    • [00:17:44] PB: Images attached. 

    [00:17:45] BB: Pitches in the morning or at night?

    • [00:17:48] PB: At night. 
    • [00:17:49] BB: At night. Okay. Why, by the way?
    • [00:17:53] PB: You'll have more of a competitive edge in my inbox. I’m reading through dozens in the morning, right? Like usually while I'm walking my dog. But at night, if it's the last thing that I'm seeing before I'm signing off, I'll respond and say, “Hey, let's talk about this in the morning,” or whatever, right? I just think that there's a better chance of me actually reading it and going back to it at night when the inbox isn't as crowded.

    [00:18:17] BB: Email or Twitter DM?

    • [00:18:20] PB: Twitter. 

    [00:18:21] BB: One follow-up or multiple?

    • [00:18:23] PB: Two. 

    [00:18:24] BB: Direct or creative subject lines?

    • [00:18:26] PB: Creative. 

    [00:18:28] BB: That makes sense for your space. Press release or media kit?

    • [00:18:32] PB: Press release. 




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