It’s no secret that the news can, on occasion, be less than uplifting. But at a recent press briefing in the 4media group London offices, a crew of award-winning journalists corrected the record, providing tips for pitching the media in a place where one can often find uplifting news—even the opportunity for an escape.
Today, we’re talking about the travel section: that hallowed space across the pages of papers and online sites where things aren’t always bleak. In fact, they tend to be sunny or cultured or otherwise offer a reprieve from whatever ‘normal’ looks like.
We invited award-winning journalist and travel editor of The Sun, Lisa Minot and her colleague, fellow award-winning journalist, Daniel Jones, The Sun’s Consumer Editor, to talk about what they look for in a great story. They were accompanied on our panel by our in-house Head of News, Alan Edwards, who has over 20 years’ experience in journalism, having worked most recently as Night Editor at The Sun.
Over a sweeping discussion on best-practices in pitching, the experts revealed some great information. We’ve packaged it into 4media group’s top three tips for pitching travel sections.
1. THINK ABOUT YOUR IMAGES
Images were something that came up in Dan and Lisa’s advice, again and again. Whether it’s sunsets in the Bahamas, interiors of stunning cruise ships or even glossy pics of a brand new phone, visuals are so important for selling these markets to audiences.
Keep in mind these images are being used to help sell a particular product or trip, so it’ll pay off to invest in some strong imagery on the front end. And the journalists said something else important: don’t bank on one image—send several. Travel stories are image driven, because audiences need to be able to imagine themselves on a shoeless stroll down the beach, or the deck of a beautiful cruise ship. Get good shots. Send them all.
Not only do images help you sell your product, but they can also help you secure larger pieces of coverage. A strong image might be placed top of the page, giving your story a page lead, rather than a single graph of imageless summation.
2. IN SURVEYS, NOVELTY IS NECESSARY
Surveys are a big part of what we do at 4media group, thanks to our in-house research division, Atomik Research. So when the advice on avoiding stale surveys came, we listened intently.
Lisa Minot summed up how to maximize surveys in one line: “We don’t want an N.S.S. survey,” Minot said. “That’s a ‘No Shit, Sherlock survey.’” A survey must tell journalists, and of course audiences, something they didn’t already know.
Dan Jones added that journalists receive survey results and pitches all the time, and if those results don’t answer ‘what’s new’ or ‘what’s next’ they’re going to be passed over.
“Sense check it yourself,” Jones said. “Does it make sense to you? Is it new to you? If the answer is ‘yes,’ then send it over. But if it doesn’t check those boxes, it might be worth rethinking it.”
3. S.E.O. IS IMPORTANT
Even in the age of digital, some public relations practitioners and marketers forget about the importance of search engine optimization. News sites are fighting for attention in the same way as brand sites are, and Minot said strong SEO is a huge part of how The Sun has grown its online presence.
Her advice on SEO came down to something simple: does your piece answer questions travelers might have? If you can tell people how to make plans, or how to have a certain experience, you’re providing fodder for strong SEO, increasing your chances of landing a story.
Our head of news closed the day with some general advice: when it comes to pitching, never save the best for last. Say what you came to say, do it well, and do it up front.
If you want to take some of the stress out of coming with up a great story for pitching, you can always come to us. 4media group has a team of in-house media experts with vast experience across every type of media and newsroom. Don’t hesitate to get in touch.