First in the Series: “How to Pitch” Featuring Ed Salvato
September 25, 2014
As a board member of the PRSA Travel and Tourism Section I help create the annual conference program. I’ve noticed that tourism PR practitioners are constantly seeking the best ways to pit view a travel/lifestyle media influencer each month to explore what piques their editorial interest, their ‘pet peeves’ and their thoughts on the future of travel media.
Q: What makes a story interesting for your outlet?
A: A good, interesting story angle that jibes well with one of our platforms, and within that one of our story types, really gets my interest. For example, I recently received a pitch from Richmond, Va. It outlined why the destination would be a good getaway for my magazine because: 1) you haven’t covered it; 2) there are these amazingly interesting angles that will appeal to your audience: x, y and z and 3) we can put you in touch with several really knowledgeable and passionate locals who can help you with the story.
Or, “we love your Personified section: we have this amazing gay man who makes hats in DESTINATION THAT WE COVER.” Or easier, “We love your ‘Daily dose of travel inspiration’ in your blog. Here’s a photo a one of our team took in Atlantic City that we thought you might want to post.
Q: How many pitches do you receive in a single day and how many do you read?
A: A lot! Maybe 5 to 15 emails a day. I click on 50 percent of them based on the subject line and scan the body of those. The first paragraph usually tells me everything I need to know.
Q: What elements influence whether or not you read a pitch?
A: The subject line should be to the point and, if possible, catchy. The salutation, dear XX, should say, “Dear Ed.” It’s a small thing but it does make me more likely to read it. Also maybe the first line or two should be personalized: “Ed I thought this might be good for your “Next” article series for January.” This tells me they did their homework and took the time to craft this introduction. I can at least show them the respect of reading their pitch.
Overall the pitch should be short and sweet and to the point, yet well written. Also, it seems obvious but no mistakes (grammatically, spelling, etc.). Those can be distracting.
Q: What is an example of the best pitch you have received in the past six months?
A: The recent Richmond, Va. pitch I received was so good. It was clever. It was written from the perspective that the destination was “coming out,” and it was well written. This was interesting news to me and made me want to cover the destination.
Q: Do you use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest as a resource for story ideas?
A: Of these, I think I’ve gotten story ideas from Twitter a few times but not that often. Usually we get our ideas from discussions among the ManAboutWorld staff and correspondents, friends, fellow travelers, personal recommendations and other travel publications. Facebook is interesting, too. It’s not like I get story ideas but with 2,000 frequent traveling friends, my newsfeed is like a barometer of where the gay (and non-gay) jet set is heading at any given point in time. Example: This August a lot of people I’m connected with went to Greece. That’s good to know as I plan out my editorial calendar for next year (as well as for the blog in real time).
Q: Should PR professionals be incorporating social media ready content in their pitches to you? If so, what do you need?
A: It doesn’t hurt. I think ‘click to tweet’ is useful, though I rarely just use that tweet but often tailor it. It is, however, very useful to see the hashtags and other tags the sender emphasizes.
Q: What role, if any, do press trips play in your editorial decision making?
A: Press trips can be very useful to a publication of our size with limited travel budgets. We usually create our editorial calendar and then figure out ways to fulfill the content needs. But sometimes if the press trip is to a great destination we need to cover, we can adjust our calendar to accommodate the content that results from that trip.
Q: What types of story ideas excite you personally – and motivate you to pursue them further?
A: When I receive story ideas that reveal something new that I don’t know about. Again, the Richmond, Va. pitch is a good example. It’s not like new gay destinations pop up left and right so to hear about Richmond is helpful. I can then do research and figure out if it makes sense for us to cover it.
Q: What is your pet peeve when being pitched and/or working with public relations professionals?
A: I acknowledge that ManAboutWorld, as a digital native product that is created for iPad and Android tablet only, is a new unique product. Still it has happened often that a PR professional has asked me several times how many site visitors I receive after I’ve provided information about it and a complimentary subscription and suggested they read it. They just assume it’s a blog or website even after all my explanations and attempts to educate them otherwise. Indeed it’s digital, but it really is magazine like in that it has well written journalistic articles, lush photography and even video and hot links, but it is meant to be read as a lean-back experience. You swipe your iPad from fabulous article to fabulous article, lying back in your sofa.
Another major pet peeve: A PR professional invites me to send one of my writers on a trip then later asks to see all sorts of metrics and then denies me the trip or says it’s filled up. They should be more straightforward and say they want to see if we are interested in their trip, but let me know that it’s contingent on certain things.
Lastly: sending a pitch meant for another type of publication. I can’t tell you how many pitches I get that show a happy heterosexual couple at a resort or destination that really wouldn’t make any sense for our readers.
Q: In your perspective, where is travel editorial heading?
A: I think travel editorial is getting back to a place where curation of expert content is becoming increasingly important. It’s hard for busy travelers to wade through the vast glut of online user reviews and undependable ‘critical’ evaluations. Our readers trust our authoritative recommendations, and we’re making a business from that trust. Let us sort through the mountain of information available to find the golden nuggets. Also, readers are becoming more comfortable with premium or paid content, which is also good news for businesses like ours that charge for our content. The old adage is true in the new editorial world: You get what you pay for.
Ed is offering a complimentary one year subscription to ManAboutWorld for PR industry colleagues. Click here to claim and follow these instructions:
- Use the password “upgrade” to access the registration.
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- Use the username and password you created on our site.