To help time-strapped travel marketers increase their chances of getting picked up by publications, we spoke with long-time travel writers about what they are looking for in a media pitch.
Do Your Research
Perhaps one of the quickest ways to guarantee your pitch is sent to the trash is sending it to the wrong publication, editor, or writer. Before you pitch your story to a publication, make sure to read several issues or days worth of content (if not more) to ensure it covers similar topics. You might also want to Google a publication’s guidelines and read the letters editors often write to readers.
When it comes to pitching writers, Kate Rice, recipient of the American Society of Travel Agent’s Journalist of the Year Award, recommends thinking like a freelancer.
“Fine-tune your pitch to the editor and the publication,” Rice said. “Know what the publication’s editorial mandate is. BBC Travel, for example, is predicated on focusing on places people have not visited or on unknown aspects of better-known destinations. Its content strategy: to inspire readers to fall in love with the world.”
Jessie Fetterling, a writer and editor for Prevue Meetings, said it’s always obvious when someone sends out one release to several writers.
“If you know a journalist writes for a specific market, customize the pitch to include information that would be helpful for them,” Fetterling said. “For instance, if a hotel is debuting a renovation, if you’re pitching to me as a group travel/meetings writer, then include the meeting space and group experiences.”
Always Include Images–Always
Even if a publication has a staff photographer, images help highlight your destination as much as your story does. Make sure you have several images in your pitch, and be ready to find more if a writer requests them. If your images can be used to tell a complete story, especially in a slide show, even better.
“Whenever I’m on deadline and need images to go with a story, nine times out of 10, I choose a story idea that already has images to go with it,” Fetterling said.
Focus on Close-to-the Source Tourism
More and more people are traveling according to their conscious. They want to visit sustainable establishments and areas. If you think your destination fits the bill, incorporate business owners who can talk about sustainability–“particularly those who are eminently quotable and colorful,” Rice said.
One of the hottest topics in the media right now is the search for authenticity–whether it’s food, culture, or a destination. For Millennials, who are making up a larger and larger segment of travelers, authenticity is increasingly important. Before pitching a writer, make an honest assessment of your destination and what makes your story authentic and unique.
“As a travel writer, I’m always asking about how the experience is authentic or represents the local culture,” Fetterling said.
Go Oldschool and Call
It’s easy to blast off an email, but sometimes old school technology is the best way to reach a writer.
Harvey Chipkin, a freelance writer and longtime contributor to Travel Weekly, recommends picking up the phone and calling when you think the situation is warranted.
“Getting a phone call can be a dramatic event these days,” Chipkin said. “Ideally, you should have already met the writer via email or in person–but a call can have a dramatic impact as long as it’s not a waste of the writer’s time.”
Remember: Writers are People, Too
It’s important to have a goal in mind for securing coverage, but thinking of writers and editors as more than a means to an end will help you in the long run. Take time to build a positive relationship.
“If a writer is receptive to a pitch and does include your client in a story–be available for the writer when he or she needs something like access to an executive or other spokesperson the next time around,” Chipkin said.