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    Coffee with a Journalist: Zoë Weiner, Well+Good

    Zoë Weiner is the senior beauty editor at Well+Good where she guides coverage of skin care, hair care, cosmetics, and the beauty industry at large. She’s also the host of Zoë Tries It All, a YouTube series by Well+Good. Aside from YouTube, follow her on Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.

    During the podcast episode, Zoë shares she receives between 500-600 emails per day, what kinds of companies and pitches she’s most interested in right now, her upcoming stories launching for summer, and more.


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    Elements of a Great Pitch

    [00:05:41] BB: What makes a great subject line?

    [00:05:44] ZW: I needed to be really clear. I needed to be really clear and really not misleading. So if Supergoop is launching a sunscreen, I want to know Supergoop is launching a sunscreen. Here's the embargo date. Then like especially because I keep everything so filed and so individualized, I really like to see like, okay, this is what this email is going to tell me, if that makes sense. I don't need – I mean, every now and then, I appreciate something fine. 

    I got a really fun email last week from a publicist who represents a Japanese brand called Shinko, and it was just like Japanese sleep tips that were inspired by ingredients from the thing. I actually thought that was interesting. Yeah. I think things like that where I'm like, “Oh, this is kind of different and the subject line is telling me something a little bit different.” I like that too, but I don't need bells and whistles and curls. Keep it straight forward.

    [00:06:35] BB: Okay. Straightforward, direct. Then for a pitch itself, what captures you the most?

    [00:06:44] ZW: I think, I mean, first and foremost, it has to feel like a product that Well+Good would cover. As I said, we don't – A lot of the pitches that I get are related to products, and then it's my job to kind of figure out like where the story is within those zillions of products. 

    [00:07:00] BB: Because there are so many. 

    [00:07:01] ZW: Yeah. I think products that really feel new and innovative and have interesting science. I think if you have a product like that, and you can use the email to simplify the science for me to like take a quick look at the email and say, “Okay, this is something I want to learn more about,” I think that's great. I think products that really do feel real and different and revolutionary. 

    "I have a big pet peeve of people putting in subject lines or in email copy that something is the first or the best or the newest, when it is just not. I think no one's keeping track of those things. But that's another big no-no for me. If it's not the first or the newest, don’t say that." 


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    Embargoes or Exclusives?

    [00:10:42] BB: Yes. Okay. Do you ever want, Zoë, an exclusive or an embargo?

    [00:10:48] ZW: Embargo? I think embargoes are great because it means that we get the information about a product long before it's launched, which gives our team time to test it. Ideally, like we'll have four weeks to be able to test a product to really say, “Okay, it does what it says it does,” or it doesn't. 

    An exclusive, we rarely – I try to think the last time we did a beauty exclusive. If it feels really right for us, we'll take it. But I feel like so many of these pieces in beauty are like, for example, “What was the press powder that Rihanna used during the Super Bowl?” Someone definitely had that exclusive, and like that's just not quite in our wheelhouse. So we don't do, I think, as many as probably other beauty publications do.

    [00:11:25] BB: Maybe somewhat related to that, since we are talking about pitching, you have had a number of articles, “Oh, I'm a podiatrist and this is how you do this.” “Oh, this is what it means. I'm a cardiologist, and this is what this means when you're out of breath on the stairs,” and things like that. Do you want pitches that are in that vein of here's this expert, ideally a doctor I would imagine, and here's them explaining something we're maybe experiencing?

    [00:11:51] ZW: Yeah. I love that type of pitch. I think the only issue, it's really rare that I’ll get a pitch like that in my inbox, and that's what the story is, if that makes sense. Those stories so often will come from just like getting a podiatrist on the phone or getting a dermatologist on the phone and kind of seeing what they have to say. I think stories are more interesting that way. Honestly, I think when I get like those I'm a – It’s like, “I'm a dermatologist, and here's how to get the clean girl skin from TikTok.” I get like 25 of these in pitch, let's say. 

    That’s another pet peeve, by the way, is like all of the TikTok trends. Some of which are like kind of problematic, not things that you would cover.


    Rapid Fire Pitching Preferences

    [00:12:52] BB: Okay, rapid fire. Here we go. Video or phone interview?

    • ZW: Phone. 

    BB: Bullet points or paragraphs?

    • ZW: Bullet points. 

    BB: Short or long pitches? 

    • ZW: Short. 
    • BB: How short?
    • ZW: As short as possible. If I need more information, I'll ask for it.

    BB: Images attached or Dropbox zip file?

    • ZW: Images attached. 

    BB: Pitches in the morning or at night or who cares? 

    • ZW: It doesn't matter. 

    BB: Email or Twitter DM?

    • ZW: Oh, God. Never DM me. Email only.

    BB: One follow up or multiple?

    • ZW: One. Oh, my gosh. One. 

    BB: Direct or creative subject lines?

    • ZW: Direct. 

    BB: Press release or media kit?

    • ZW: Media kit. I like to have the pictures. 

    BB: Okay. That's good. Zoë, for those who don't know you yet, maybe they haven't been to New York to have a coffee with you or whatever, is there a way people can build a relationship with you?

    • ZW: Yeah. Instagram is kind of my communication of choice. I feel like –
    • BB: Really?
    • ZW: Yeah. That's still the beauty stronghold. It's funny. At beauty events, nobody has business cards. It's just, “I’ll follow you.”
    • BB: Instagram. Yes. 
    • ZW: In that situation, I'm like, “Don't DM me.” But you can track me down on Instagram, I suppose. I go through my Instagram like bulk DMs I would say once a month. So it just may take me a second to get back to you.



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