Friday Q and A with fashion and beauty writer Grace Cook
Grace, is an experienced fashion and beauty journalist.
Previously an Editorial Associate at Business of Fashion and Fashion Writer at the Financial Times, she specialises in fashion and beauty features, trade and trend stories. She has also contributed regularly to the British Airways luxury magazine High Life and The Club.
1. What makes you open an email from a PR?
If it’s a PR I haven’t heard from before, then a good subject line is essential. One that doesn’t sound too PR-y, or like a press release, but more custom and directed towards my interests as a writer. Anything that sounds too generic or that it’s being sent en masse - like PRESS ALERT! - is a turn off for me. Unless it’s groundbreaking news, don’t make it sound so urgent. Anything that gives relevance to the email in a timely manner is good –*new sustainable brand launches in UK/ *XX brand launches on Net-a-Porter, etc
2. Would you open emails from PR’s you don’t know?
Of course! Especially if they nail the subject line :-)
3. Do you answer your landline during a working day?
I only have a work mobile, but I prefer pitches by email.
4. Do you like images within a PR pitch?
Yes, it’s definitely helpful – as attachments so I can view these on my phone, not as a wetransfer which is annoying as I have to download an entire file and I might not like the contents. If they can’t be attached to an email, dropbox links or google drive links are always preferred.
5. When is the best time for you to meet a PR?
6. And which day suits the most?
I’m freelance, so any day is fine for me normally!
7. What are your top 2 tips for a PR trying to secure coverage?
Make it specific to me as a writer. Pitch things that you know are of interest and you will get my attention - don’t email me for product placement on shopping pages when I don’t have a shopping page to fill, for example. If I have written a story recently that your brand could have fitted into and I didn’t know about it, rather than pitching me the same story (as I won’t be writing it again), make it relevant, or ask to meet to tell me more about the brand you think would interest me. Journalists rarely write the same story twice, so coming at me with the same angle is pretty pointless.
Email me also with an angle. Something timely, that has a news hook. Give me a reason to write about it now and a reason to care. Give me the bigger picture and lots of information up front. So if you have a new European brand that is doing something amazing manufacturing wise, tell me about it - I write for Monocle, so I want those details upfront without having to ask. Anticipate what I need, and put a pitch together with a story idea. Understand that much of the time, a brand won’t get its own story, so knowledge of the sector/other brands doing the same to build a bigger picture is also useful for context. Give me info in laymans terms - lots of press releases sound so flouncy, you have to sift through the information to work out exactly what they are about. Keeping it simple and informative is your best bet. This is technically 3 tips, but all are in a similar vein of keeping it relevant!
8. Are you happy to be contacted via social media / what are the boundaries?
I prefer email. Happy for PRs I know to contact me to nudge me to reply (I often get swamped in emails).
9. Spirulina or Sauvignon?
Both? Everything in moderation.
10. Stylist or The Spectator?
Likewise. I am big into beauty and big into business.
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