As a shopping expert, brand strategist, and lifestyle journalist who not only writes for several national publications, but also shares tips on television and radio, you’ve likely heard of Trae Bodge before. She’s a go-getting, hard-hitting writer who works tirelessly to provide the best content for her readers. From giving them advice around Black Friday deals to featuring up-and-coming entrepreneurs from various industries, Bodge has a pulse on trends. Here, she spoke with Press Hook on what catches her attention, what keeps it, and how publicists can better build relationships with members of the media:
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Tell us about your day-to-day routine.
Trae Bodge: I wake up around 6:30 a.m. and work out in some form most days, which includes walking while on the phone with a friend or a Pilates, Tabata, or weight lifting YouTube video. I try to be at my desk by 9 to 9:30 a.m., and I usually finish up around 7 p.m.
The rest of the day varies a lot. I typically have at least one Zoom meeting with a potential client or a virtual PR preview. I send pitches to editors and producers and work on articles and TV segments that have been assigned or booked. I proactively look for opportunities to provide expert quotes to reporters, and I usually have a couple of incoming requests for tips commentary as well. And, more recently, I’ve started speaking on a Clubhouse panel 3-5 days a week.
How many stories do you work on in a month? How do you keep yourself organized?
TB: Because my business is divided between stories and TV segments, I don’t produce as much content as a full-time freelance writer. That said, I probably write six stories per month. Keeping organized can be a challenge, but I typically keep drafts of all my stories open at once and drop relevant items into the draft. Once I have enough content to work off, I’ll start moving things around and paring things down. I also use calendar alerts to keep track of when stories are due, and for my TV segments, I have tables in Google Drive to keep track of dates, brands, messaging, deadlines, etc.
How do your find sources? How about products?
TB: I have a list of 2,000+ publicists that I’ve built over the years, so I send an email to that list when I am looking for experts or products. I also keep a running list of experts on specific topics, so I often refer to that. I also use two members-only Facebook groups, and if I’m looking for something really specific or unique, I ask colleagues. PR’s should know that a lot of info is being shared behind the scenes, so if you put your best foot forward with one expert or writer, that could pay off in spades. I sometimes use HARO, which is helpful, especially if I need an expert on a topic that I don’t typically cover.
What stands out to you in a pitch from a publicist? The good? The bad?
TB: I appreciate concise pitches and to the point. If a pitch is a mile long and full of marketing jargon that doesn’t say much of anything, I lose interest. But, a pitch with a descriptive subject line, a two-to-three sentence intro, a few written bullet points, a small image, a URL, and a link to high res photos? I’m in!
If a publicist is responding to a specific request, what stands out is when they have taken the time to read my request and respond accordingly. I know I’ve earned a reputation of being tough, but if I ask for four pieces of info and you give me two, you’ve just wasted my time and yours. Plus, it’s important to remember that competition is stiff. You may rep a mattress that is on sale, but so do at least a dozen other publicists. If I only have space for a few, I’m going to favor those who make my job easier, not harder.
How do you come up with story ideas?
TB: I think about what is timely and useful, and I stay in my lane, which is about saving money. I’ve been doing this long enough that the editorial calendar kind of lives in my brain, so I think about what’s coming up that may be relevant to my editors or a producer—and of course, the reader/viewer.
If it makes sense, I might also create a pitch about something that is trending, but my lead times are usually at least a week, so, it can’t be something that comes and goes so quickly that no one cares about it by the time I submit.
What's the hardest part of your job? What's the best part?
TB: Juggling everything efficiently is the hardest part for me. My business grew by 35 percent last year, and while it’s not lost on me how rare that is in these challenging times, it was a big jump, and I felt it. It’s so important to me to do everything well, and that’s hard to do when you’re overwhelmed. I’ve been delegating and streamlining, but I can’t say it’s been stress-free.
The best part is that I love what I do. It brings me joy to share information that readers and viewers enjoy and find helpful. I also love highlighting small businesses, which I’ve had more opportunity to do this past year. I know you asked for one thing, but my other favorite part of my job is the people I’ve met. There are so many people in my industry who have become dear friends.
What advice would you give to a publicist to catch your attention?
TB: My advice is that to catch someone’s attention; you need to pay attention. I know some PR firms require auto-generated pitching, but the best publicists also send specific pitches to the writer. We are easy to find and follow, so read and watch the work of the person you are pitching and then tweak an existing pitch to them. Doing this is a great way to stand out from the crowd.