How to Pitch Series: Sarah Bergeron-Ouellet, QMI Agency/Canoe.caOctober 27, 2015 | By: Ally Carlson
We talked to Montreal-based journalist Sarah Bergeron-Ouellet about what makes the French-Canadian media tick and the best ways to connect with the market.
As a writer with QMI Agency and Editor of Canoe.ca’s Travel section, Sarah has travelled all over the world, from India to Havana to Namibia, but she says the places that interest her the most are the ones she has yet to visit.
Let’s hear what Sarah has to say about what makes a story interesting, the importance of social media and how to appeal to a French-Canadian audience.
How should PR professionals tailor their pitches to appeal to French-Canadian media?
In the case of French-language media in Québec, the most important thing is to know at least the minimum about the market. Culture and language influence the Québécois’ travel choices and habits. Direct flights available from Montréal are not as numerous as those from Toronto (for example) so that can also influence the travellers’ preferences.
What elements influence whether or not you read a pitch?
I read a pitch if the punch line is clear and if the subject is relevant. Something intriguing will attract my attention too. I am very doubtful when a pitch seems to “oversell” a destination, place or product.
What makes a story interesting for your outlets?
QMI Agency is Québecor Media’s news agency and feeds four daily newspapers as well as the webportal Canoe. Our readers are “the general public” so various things can make a travel story interesting for us: something new, improvements and changes at a popular destination or something that will make our readers dream: exotic, off the beaten path, quirky, luxurious or unbelievable places. We try to have a little bit of everything.
What is an example of the best/worst pitch you have received in the past six months?
Worst: an e-mail with no subject and a note saying “Please read the attached document”
Best: any pitch that is personalized, short and that is straight to the point. If a pitch is about a FAM trip, I expect to have some details about the itinerary.
Should PR professionals be incorporating social media ready content into their pitches for you? If so, what do you need?
As a traditional media, we use social media to promote our stories, to interact with our readers, to find inspiration and to be informed about a destination, event, product or trend. Unlike some independent bloggers or writers, we don’t use social media to interact directly with a brand, a place or with our hosts during a press trip. What we need is the social media handles and hashtag preferences.
As an Editor, what do you expect from writers in terms of their use of social media?
Our writers are freelancers so they have their own work ethic. We expect them to be professional when on assignment. We like it when they share the result of their work on their channels.
In your perspective – what is the biggest misperception of French-Canadian media?
One misperception that some international organisations may have is that the French-speaking Québec market is too small to merit attention. I think that most Québécois are looking for tailored information and rely on French-speaking outlets from Québec to be informed. Therefore a big media like us, in fact, reaches a lot of people.
Do you have any advice you would like to share with tourism boards on how to work best with French-Canadian media outlets or with QMI Agency specifically?
Don’t hesitate to contact us!