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Coffee Chat with Wendy Rose Gould: Beauty & Lifestyle Journalist
October 6th, 2020
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Every month, Press Hook will highlight a media professional who uses the platform to streamline their workflow, formulate story ideas, and discover products and experts.

Today, we are happy to introduce the influential wellness, beauty, and lifestyle journalist, Wendy Rose Gould. She writes for a plethora of outlets including Reader’s Digest, Spotlyte, Total Beauty, Real Simple, and countless other top-tier editorial destinations. Any given month, she submits between 30 and 50 pieces of content, either for traditional journalism outlets or branded websites. As a full-time solopreneur, she spends endless hours pitching, interviewing, sourcing, researching, editing, and, well, running a thriving content business.

Here, Gould took time to speak with Press Hook about her typical day-to-day routine, what stands out in a press release, what falls short, and more:

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Tell us about your daily routine. How does it start? What does your work involve? 

I like to start my day with an easy breakfast and lots of coffee, and then I’ll draft my daily ‘to do’ list, organizing tasks by importance. I almost always tackle emails first—being on the West Coast means I have a solid chunk to work through from those who’ve been busy on the East Coast! Depending on the day, I’m usually reaching out for interviews or following up on interviews, and then writing between one to three pieces. 

I’ve been in the game for over a decade, so I can turn around copy very quickly once I have everything I need. We’re talking 30 minutes to three hours, depending on the topic and word count. If the deadline is tight, I’ll let the piece sit for a few hours and then read through it again for a final edit sweep before submitting. Often, though, I prefer to let stories [sit] for a couple of days—sometimes up to a week—so my eyes are extra fresh for the final edit. 

That’s not it, though! I tell this to everyone who asks me, ‘How do I become a writer?’—writing is only half the work! 

There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes magic going on when you’re running a full-time solo operation. Most of my pieces are reported, which means I’m constantly sourcing and interviewing experts, and completing follow-up calls and emails to make sure I have everything necessary for a solid story. I’m also managing writer-editor relationships, reading through PR pitches, drafting and sending story pitches, and reviewing the products I write about.

As a freelancer, I must also manage all the administrative tasks, which include reading through new contracts, invoicing and following up on invoices, organizing my finances for taxes, etc. 

What stands out on a pitch from a publicist? What annoys you?

I get hundreds of pitches a day. The ones that stand out are short and sweet, fit squarely in my niche (which means the publicist knows my beats), and are going to enhance my story in some shape or form. I do get frustrated with constant follow-ups to pitches. I cannot reply to everyone due to the nature of being a solo freelancer and the sheer abundance of emails I receive, but I do read every pitch. 

My biggest pet peeve question is ‘when is the story going to publish?’ because of how often I get the [question] and the fact that the answer never, ever changes (I don’t have access to the editorial slate as a freelancer, so your guess is as good as mine!).   

What are the best ways a publicist can stay on your radar with their client?

Keep me up to date with what’s happening in their client’s world, whether it’s a new product, an award, a re-launch, a feature in another media outlet, etc. Quick emails just to say, ‘Hey, I’m still working with [XYZ] if you’re working on anything that could be a fit’ is effective.

What’s the hardest part of your job? The best?

The hardest part is probably pitching, just because I know I’m investing a lot of time to draft a story idea only for it to potentially be dismissed. Your ego really has to be sitting in the other corner when those editor replies come through! Fortunately, I’ve been able to garner great working relationships with my editors, and having a firm understanding of the outlet also helps improve pitch acceptance rates. 

The best part of my job is probably the writing itself, which is why I went into the field. I love learning about something new and dissecting the topic, especially with the help of experts who really know their stuff! 

How do you come up with pitches?

I have a working pitch idea log on my phone that I’m constantly adding to. Maybe I’ll be inspired by a conversation in the coffee drive-thru or from a post I saw on social media. I also do get story ideas from PR emails. For example, even getting an email about a new product launch can inspire a greater story about a growing ingredient trend in skincare. 

Any additional advice for publicists?

We reporters and editors are just human beings, so treat us as such [and] you’ll be golden.