How to Pitch Series: Andrew Dobson (Part 2)

June 11, 2015

Part 2 of 2

Andrew Dobson

Last week we asked Canadian travel blogger and freelance writer, Andrew Dobson, what makes a pitch interesting for Canadian outlets.

In the second part of our How to Pitch with Andrew Dobson, we’re learning how to make a pitch interesting for a writer that contributes to various media albeit online, print or broadcast.

 Andrew started his blog, www.dobbernationloves.com in 2006 and has since written about 80 countries, and contributed to print publications across Canada. Andrew can be found tweeting about his travels @dobbernation.

Let’s learn more about working with Canadian influencers.


What makes a story interesting for your print publications and for your blog? How does that differ and how is it the same?

Freelancer budgets for print publications have seriously dwindled recently so when I’m looking to pitch one of my editors I’m hoping for an exclusive story, unique angle or bespoke experience featuring a notable personality (afternoon tea with the President of Ireland for example). At the end of the day editors are quicker to pick up a story if the destination hasn’t been featured recently, so for a Toronto based travel writer like myself trips to Florida, Mexico or Chicago are a hard sell but adventures to the Maldives, Bora Bora and Namibia are more in demand.

When I get home from a press trip I spend over 80% of my time working on my blog related work. I’m constantly telling the PR’s I work with that I feel my blog content offers the best offering to the destination as the destination guides feature 2000-3000 words of copy, engaging instagram videos featuring local attractions and a youtube video tour of the resort/hotel/suite I visit. Print stories of course live for only one day and are limited to 400-800 words typically and do not feature the engaging video and extensive photo galleries that blogs offer.

Blogging gives me the freedom to showcase an in depth travel experience without relying on an editor to green light my story. Since I write for 4-5 print publications, all with different readerships/interests I try to ensure my itinerary is packed with activities and restaurant experiences so I can cluster my experiences to fit each publications audience.

Should PR professionals be incorporating social media ready content in their pitches for you? If so, what do you need?

Absolutely. I require social stats to be provided for all touch points on a trip (DMO, hotel, tour operators, restaurants, museums etc…) I then type these out on a note in my iPhone so that I can easily share my experience live.

It is starting to become the norm expectation that tourism PR’s provide remote WIFI transponders so that journalists/bloggers on the road can share their experience live. I’ve been given access to these WIFI devices on indie press trips as well as on large group trips (where every member of the group can sign into the device as we travel together). Benefits for DMOs include live engagement as well as bloggers/journalists who are able to manage their workload while on the road. For folks like me its essential to have WIFI access on the road so we can share our experience and promote the destination live, while also responding to emails etc…

What do you expect from destinations in terms of their use of social media?

I expect a destination to take full advantage of the fact that I am in destination by sharing my social commentary to their audience and promoting my attendance in advance. I’m often shocked that I am actively promoting a destination for four days and don’t receive one RT or back-and-forth conversation from my host online. A huge missed opportunity.

Before I depart on a trip I share the social handles for the experiences I’m most excited for so my audience is aware that I’ll be staying at xyz hotel, visiting xyz museum and dining at a famous restaurant for example.

Two examples of DMO social done right: Four Seasons Bora Bora tweeted a picture of the gift bag sitting on the bed in my bungalow before I arrived with the caption “Mr. Dobson your room is ready for you and we can’t wait for you to experience Bora Bora!”

Also on a recent trip to Scottsdale, Arizona, each influencer on the trip received a tweet from the DMO’s twitter handle shortly after our planes landed at the airport. The PR team had welcomed us to Scottsdale and included the hotel we were staying and two of the experiences we’d be having on our itinerary. Each tweet was personalized to each member of the group based on their interests/niche and bespoke itinerary.

Do you have any advice you would like to share with tourism boards on how to work best with Canadian influencers or with yourself specifically?

The best way to work with influencers is to know their work, propose an itinerary and experience they can’t refuse and most importantly work creatively to allot a budget where these personalities can create an income from their trips.

Create synergy with the influencers you send on press trips by including a contract where the DMO can use the beautiful photos, inspiring videos and creative stories on their website and social outlets. DMOs that recognize bloggers/influencers need to earn a living will capture the best and most robust coverage. I predict the norm will soon be that DMOs offer compensation packages for influencers on the road which include social promo, contesting, photo rights, video production and online stories (which appear on the DMO’s website)…In a competitive marketplace the destinations that come out on top will be the ones that recognize the need for creating paid opportunities.

Written by Krystal Carter

Krystal is a senior publicist in DCI's Toronto office. Through her work with global travel destinations and Canadian hotel properties, she has nurtured deep relationships with the nation's leading travel and lifestyle media. Krystal holds a degree in Media Studies from the University of Guelph, and a diploma in Public Relations from Humber College.

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