Originally, writer Vanessa Gordon founded East End Taste as a food and lifestyle blog to chronicle her day-to-day adventures with her family in the Hamptons. It was a fun hobby while she freelanced for local publications in Long Island and taught English as a Second Language (ESL). Much to her surprise (and delight), it’s grown into a full-fledged digital publication and a media company. In addition to its website content and robust social media channels, the company also hosts the annual Hamptons Interactive Brunch. Gordon now works seven days a week (yep: you read that right), overseeing all aspects of the digital publication, from planning the social media calendar and approving deals for advertorial packages to finalizing all editorial content before publication.
Here, she spoke with Press Hook on how publicists can catch her attention:
This interview has been lightly edited for clarity.
Tell us about your daily routine.
My two children are always top priority. Without looking at any electronics, I get them up (or they wake me up) by 6:30 a.m., help them dress and choose their outfits, prepare their breakfast and snacks for school, read to them, and have them on their way to school. My daughter takes the school bus, and I drive my son to school.
I come home and jump right on my Peloton Bike for 30 to 45 minutes, then 10 minutes of either barre or light weights. I am guilty of multitasking when on the bike, checking emails and WhatsApp messages from my team overseas, my web developers, and my social media assistants based in the Middle East and Asia. In fact, my staff is found worldwide, so I have to be ready to answer messages in the morning and as late as 10 p.m. at night when some begin working.
Towards the late morning, I assign tasks for my assistant editor and interns if not assigned the previous day. I then forward articles written by our freelance writers to my assistant editor for the first run-through. If the first round of editing is finished, I begin fact-checking by reaching out to the businesses directly by phone and email.
Later in the afternoon, on average, I have two to three Zoom or phone meetings per day that last between 20 and 40 minutes. These meetings are with prospective advertisers, tourism boards, and local businesses to create a partnership for the event in the summer or for a specific ongoing project.
My early evenings encompass me scheduling articles for publication, working with my team to source images, and gathering information and content for our email newsletter. I also cap off the day with the last check of our social media channels to see if we have outstanding messages, tweets, comments, etc., that may need a prompt response. I like to respond to people right away; I never like that feeling of waiting and wouldn't want others to feel that way if I could help it.
My day always ends with my daughter's swimming classes, practicing the piano with my son, and reading a history text (currently, I am reading Queen Isabella by Alison Weir). I eat dinner with my husband and family, and we spend the evenings relaxing together and watching our favorite program or a clip of a movie.
How many stories do you work on in a month? How do you keep yourself organized?
I personally used to write 15-20 stories per month. Now, I prefer not to write more than 3 to 4 articles per week. However, since we are approaching the end of the fourth quarter [editor’s note: when this interview took place], I always find myself writing double the number of articles to close the year. This week, for example, I have written six articles, and it is not even Thursday!
I am very old-fashioned with the way I keep myself organized with the least amount of screen time possible: a handy notepad near my laptop/desktop. I also like to jot down ideas on the go in the small notebook I keep in my handbag. I otherwise have a very sharp memory and can remember names, emails, phone numbers, and tasks extremely well.
How do you find sources/products?
I have spent these past few years (of course, pre-pandemic) attending trade shows and getting to know many businesses and brands on a one-to-one opportunity. I have attended many different networking events as well, especially where I live in the Hamptons.
During the summer seasons, there are many great events to get to know brands who activate at events and private functions. I otherwise have developed relationships with many terrific marketing and public relations teams and look to them for sources and products. I do this because I know that I will receive solid, valuable and insightful information with the required assets for a strong story.
I personally discovered Press Hook and met Daniel Huipe when I was working on one of our gift guides last year. I loved that he was responsive and had all of the information I needed without me having to ask: a solid paragraph description of the brand, which gift guide/story/beat the product is most relevant for, the brand's founder's bio and information, and links to web-size/hi-res images—crucial for consideration/inclusion.
What stands out to you in a pitch from a publicist? The good? The bad?
I love, first and foremost, when a publicist/publicity team is very familiar with our publication, East End Taste. It means more than words when I receive a note saying how much they had enjoyed our articles on (x, y, z) or a note where they remember when we first met or connected at an event. I love those sentimental touches.
I like a pitch that contains high-quality images in the body of the email, always a link to images, and short, easy-to-read paragraphs to gather the information I need quickly and decide right away if it is a fit or not. I am a huge animal lover personally, and since we heavily focus on sustainability and travel, I love pitches that have to do with rescue and rehabilitation efforts and brands that support these initiatives.
I never like and unfortunately have to pass on pitches that spell our brand's name wrong (Taste East End, East End Eating, and Eats End Taste are real ones I have received), start with informal phrases (I appreciate a proper salutation), and an email that does not contain a link to images right away. I will always have to ask or request images, and to save that time for everyone, it always (always) helps that they are included right away.
How do you come up with story ideas?
We come up with story ideas through a combination of pitches sent by our freelancers and regular contributors. I also take the time to speak with many of our readers and learn what they enjoy reading about the most and what they would like to see us publish.
I am very glad to say I have a great relationship with many of our regular readers based here in the Hamptons and abroad. That personal touch is something we are very much known for. I remember beginning East End Taste while I was still teaching, and I would hand out postcards advertising East End Taste to my language-learning clients. Many still have those cards to this day.
What's the hardest part of your job? What's the best part?
The hardest part is time. I truly wish there were more hours in the day. There is always so much to do. It is never easy, but it is always worth it. The best part is connecting with our audience. I love seeing their reactions to stories, their messages via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
What advice would you give to a publicist to catch your attention?
I always love to connect with new publicity teams. However, my best advice is not to necessarily note that just because we covered one topic, that means we automatically would want to write on the same topic again or recreate the same story but with a different source. I would much rather read a message expressing how they have taken an interest in reading our stories and a note of introduction to give us an overview of their clients.
I prefer to receive their current client list right away to see if any are a fit for any stories we are formulating. Lastly, I welcome check-in emails to see what we are working on and how they could help. That could save us both a great deal of effort and time! Anything to help save us time is of great assistance.