What's the difference between
'Kore wa watashi no ... desu' (これ は わたし の 。。。 です)
'Kochira wa watashi no.. desu' (こちら は わたし の。。 です)
when introducing a person?
Is kore used for inanimate objects only? Is kochira politer?
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こちら carries a sense of direction of the conversation, like you would expect the listener to look towards or acknowledge the subject you are bringing up, inanimate or not. They are for the most part interchangeable in their own way and no one would pay much mind... however... NEVER use これ to speak of a person...(or beloved animal) its just faux-pas.
From what I know, これ means "this" and こちら "this way" but こちら can also be used as you realised, to use exactly like これ. The difference is that it is much more politer.
When introducing a person, it's not allowed to use これは..., because これは... means the thing you are pointing is not a person, it can be a thing or a object, for example, これは私の考えです(this is my thought) or これは私のパソコンです(this is my personal computer), and although こちら is often used in guiding the direction, like こちらにどうぞ(this way, please), it also can be used in introducing a person to another person.