Working with Travel Writers and Bloggers


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A presentation geared to tourism professionals, given at a Texas Leadership Institute seminar on tourism. Sheila Scarborough discusses the pitch to print cycle for both print and online content, finding writers and bloggers, press trips/fam tours and how to listen online.

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  • Who I am as a writer ** So naïve about magazine writing, was surprised when I got a check from US Naval Institute Proceedings ** I took myself to school to learn freelancing Yudkin book, Renegade Writer ** Still do print work, but prefer to publish online Constant battle to convince my editors that such work, done right, has huge value ** Last week launched Tourism Currents
  • What we’ll cover today
  • What I’m thinking about as I pitch an article/send a query Editors want to know: ** Is this the right topic…. ** ….At the right time…. ** Is this the best writer to do it?
  • Got the assignment – now what? Spoonfeeding = too much help, too much rah-rah for the article Lets talk comps, including “media rate”
  • Print takes awhile Donut was a “rush job,” as was Battleship TX A year from pitch to print for Finding True Florida Was worried coffee shop would go out of business Eureka Springs also about a year, went from 1200 words to 400 due to “mag format changes.” TX drag racing took over a year since 2 races to cover
  • Searchable, archivable, forever. Links are the coin of the realm. So many ways for people to find it, but you must provide the breadcrumbs.
  • You can’t “buy a list” There’s a whole community ecosystem online. Twitter Search – we’ll see in How to Listen
  • Know who you’re talking to Read their work Don’t blast with emails Bonus points if you never use ALL CAPS in a subject line Interact on their blogs, on Twitter, FIRST
  • OMG, that plate!
  • Hutchinson was a great use of the press trip Hawaii was successful as well, but forced-march nature sucked a lot of the creativity opportunity out of it.
  • Bloggers on my blogger press trips didn’t really understand the terms “press trip” or “fam tour.”
  • Facebook: as of today, 300 million users One of the fastest-growing Facebook demographics is women over 55
  • Working with Travel Writers and Bloggers

    1. 1. Travel Writers and Bloggers Sheila Scarborough Tourism Currents
    2. 2. You Want Them Talking About You <ul><li>From pitch to print: how it works </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Print </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Online </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Finding writers and bloggers </li></ul><ul><ul><li>What to do with them when you find them </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Print vs. online coverage </li></ul><ul><li>Who is already talking about you online? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>How to listen </li></ul></ul>
    3. 3. How writers work: pitch to print <ul><li>I need ideas , then a unique angle </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Not “Disneyworld” but rather “Grandparents and kids at Disneyworld” </li></ul></ul><ul><li>I need target publications </li></ul><ul><li>I need an editor to bite on my pitch/query </li></ul><ul><ul><li>They’re swamped </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They’re broke </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>They often take forever to respond </li></ul></ul>
    4. 4. How writers work: pitch to print <ul><li>I get an assignment – hooray! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>I need to do local research on site </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>I need good, meaty quotes from real people </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>I need details for flavor, atmosphere </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What do I need from you? </li></ul><ul><ul><li>All of the above </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Help vs. spoon feeding </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Comps may or may not be allowed </li></ul></ul>
    5. 5. How writers work: pitch to print <ul><li>Timeline from query to print </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Shortest one I’ve had: about 3 months </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Longest one I’ve had: about a year </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Word count may be decreased by editors </li></ul></ul><ul><li>What this means to you </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Lots of work upfront to hopefully see an article in the future </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Follow up to get copies of the publication </li></ul></ul>
    6. 6. Is pitch to print different online? <ul><li>Oh, yeah, baby! </li></ul><ul><ul><li>On a blog post, I hit “Publish” when it’s ready </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Why I’d rather blog </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Speed of publication – info is fresh </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Long-tail reach </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No one edits my work </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Downside: the “prestige” issue + low pay </li></ul>
    7. 7. How can you reach writers? <ul><li>Print : find them where they publish </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Texas Highways , Texas Parks & Wildlife , Texas Co-op Power , Texas Gardener </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Large metro newspaper travel sections </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Niche pubs with travel sections: AustinWoman </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>City magazines: D Magazine </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Indie/alt pubs: Austin Chronicle </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Airline mags: Southwest’s Spirit </li></ul></ul>
    8. 8. How can you reach bloggers? <ul><li>Online : Cast a wide net </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Google Blogsearch </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Alltop Travel channel + others </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Travel Blog Exchange </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Twitter </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>#travel hashtag & Twitter Search </li></ul></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Blogrolls </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>This link: </li></ul></ul>
    9. 9. You’ve found them, but…. don’t be “that guy” Courtesy Hamed Saber Flickr CC
    10. 10. Jurassic PR tactics <ul><li>Press releases sent to some email list that you bought. </li></ul><ul><li>Mailing weird destination-related objects. </li></ul><ul><li>Web sites only, without any way to talk to you </li></ul>Courtesy a2gemma at Flickr Creative Commons
    11. 11. Press trips – Jurassic PR? <ul><li>Here’s why I’m not a big fan of press trips </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Everyone’s looking at the same stuff </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>I hate force-marched travel </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>I end up in hotels I’d never pick </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Many pubs won’t accept work from fam trips </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Here’s why I’m OK with press trips </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Can’t afford some places otherwise </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Can use the info for most online work </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><ul><li>If I blog it, I disclose it </li></ul></ul></ul>
    12. 12. Blogger Press Trips Hutchinson KS (courtesy BJMcCray Flickr CC) Kauai, HI (courtesy Culinary Media Network Flickr CC)
    13. 13. Bloggers are a different breed <ul><li>They are publishing content about you </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Before, during AND after…. </li></ul></ul><ul><li>They want unscheduled time to </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Write & post to blogs </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Download, edit, then upload video </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Download, edit, then upload photos </li></ul></ul><ul><li>They want WiFi & power plugs </li></ul><ul><li>They can be “Amateur Hour” </li></ul>
    14. 14. Coverage: print vs. online <ul><li>Print </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Article is published in one place (may be syndicated) </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Still has prestige impact </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>If not put online, goes into recycle bin </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Online </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Blogs/online publication and …. </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Tweets, Facebook, Flickr photos, YouTube, podcasts, StumbleUpon, Delicious, FriendFeed, maybe LinkedIn, etc. </li></ul></ul>
    15. 15. Are they already talking online? Grow some listening ears (courtesy AdamSelwood at Flickr)
    16. 16. How to listen online <ul><li>Google Alerts – here are mine </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Set for your destination, attraction or event </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Twitter Search – </li></ul><ul><li>Free listening </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Filtrbox </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Socialseek </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Paid listening </li></ul><ul><ul><li>Radian6 </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Techrigy </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>ScoutLabs </li></ul></ul>
    17. 17. Takeaways <ul><li>Easier than ever to get the word out. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>All eggs aren’t in travel writer/print baskets </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>The Web is made for the tourism Little Guy </li></ul></ul><ul><li>Social media is a must </li></ul><ul><ul><li>But it’s just a high-tech Visitor’s Center; you can do this! </li></ul></ul><ul><li>I’m sorry, but…. </li></ul><ul><ul><li>No one has time for your press release </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>No one cares about your expensive ad </li></ul></ul><ul><ul><li>Crummy destinations can’t be saved by PR </li></ul></ul>
    18. 18. Sheila Scarborough <ul><li>@SheilaS on Twitter </li></ul><ul><li>[email_address] </li></ul><ul><li>Social media for tourism at </li></ul>