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June 22, 2017

SEND PITCHES THAT MAKE TRAVEL WRITERS PACK THEIR BAGS

Pitching travel stories is fun. The tone is positive and there’s no shortage of topics. But how do you get travel writers to respond to your pitch when their inboxes are as crowded as an overbooked flight?

Be a problem solver.

Travel editors—or any type of editors, really—have a lot on their minds. They’re always seeking: 
  • Quality photos and video
  • Content for digital and print platforms
  • Opportunities to gain readership and help the business grow
PR professionals can help editors ease their worries and their workloads. Writers and editors at the Travel and Words Conference this spring offered these tips for pitching success:

Think across platforms
Irene Edwards, Sunset magazine’s editor in chief, said their digital and print readers are fairly distinct groups. Help make an editor’s job easier by pitching stories with layers that can be told across different platforms.

Online articles support an outlet’s traffic and audience growth. If you were left out of a roundup story, send a note. Compliment the article and ask the editor or writer to consider you next time. Depending on the feedback, they might write a follow-up piece. The publication can link to the original article, increasing its online traffic.

Provide pictures
Photos are the most difficult and expensive assets for editors to get, said Dan Weeks, editor of The Iowan magazine. A few editors at the conference said they won’t consider a pitch until they see the visuals first. Got video? You’ll win more attention from editors who need more video.

Weeks suggests you take lots of vertical and horizontal photos, giving editors more options for layout. Speaking of layout, include photos with open space that could be the backdrop for headlines or the cover banner.

Send low-resolution images, and assign each a number. You’ll have clearer communication with the editor when you talk about the photos.

If you work with professional photographers, give them all the information you can about the site or event. When are crowds the largest or smallest? What unique access points are available? When is the sunlight the best? Your familiarity with the location can lead to a more successful photoshoot.

Follow standard pitching guidelines
Travel writers and editors are nice people. They’re also busy, have tight budgets and long lead times. Use the same pitching guidelines as you would for any journalist. I came away from the conference with a few additional insights:
  • Email is by far the most preferred vehicle for pitching. Put your pitch in the body of your email, not just as an attachment. Editors appreciate not having to click a few extra times. 
  • Follow-up emails are encouraged. Virginia Smyth, executive editor of Seattle Magazine, said pitches usually fall into three buckets: Yes, I love it; No, it’s off base; and Maybe. A follow-up message could move a “maybe” to a “yes.”
  • Send a quick list of story ideas in one email. Blogs are a hungry beast that always need feeding, and editors will appreciate having ideas on file.
  • Think about Christmas in July. Seriously. Magazine editors assign stories four to six months in advance of the publication date. Newspapers, TV, radio and some online outlets require one to three weeks lead time.
What insights do you have about working with travel editors and writers? Tweet us at @JayRayAdsPR.