How to Pitch Series: WestJet MagazineNovember 20, 2015 | By: Ally Carlson
WestJet Magazine is a Canadian travel-lifestyle magazine designed to reach WestJet passengers each month both inflight and online at WestJetMagazine.com. The magazine features informative stories about WestJet destinations in Canada, the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean and Europe and is dedicated to inspiring travel.
Editor Jill Foran has been working with WestJet Magazine since 2012, overseeing the editorial direction and content creation of the magazine and website. Prior to 2012 she worked as a professional writer and editor in the publishing industry for almost 15 years.
We sat down with Jill to discuss what story angles excite her most, the role that press trips play in the story and her biggest PR pet peeves.
1. What elements influence whether or not you read a pitch?
I love a pitch that’s short and to the point, but that also surprises me with new or unexpected information. The subject line of the email is also key. It should be straightforward and direct, clearly outlining what’s in the pitch.
2. What types of story ideas excite you personally – and motivate you to pursue them further?
I love a good backstory. If a restaurant, hotel or attraction has a unique and compelling story tied to it, it’ll grab my interest. More and more, we’re seeking out unexpected delights within WestJet’s destinations, whether in the form of an interesting menu at a restaurant, a quirky shop with an equally quirky owner or an off-the-beaten-path attraction.
3. When a publicist pitches you a travel related story idea, what three things should s/he consider before contacting you?
Timing (we assign print pieces at least four or five months in advance), suitability (is this appropriate for the WestJet audience and does it fit with the types of stories our magazine likes to share) and originality (we don’t want to run the same content as everyone else).
4. What role, if any, do press trips play in your editorial decision making?
We accept press trips, and they do play a role in our editorial planning to some extent, but it’s important that our writers are able to cover a story using their editorial judgement.
5. What is your pet peeve when being pitched and/or working with Public Relations Professionals?
Receiving generic pitches that have obviously been sent out to countless other magazine editors can be annoying, but my true pet peeve is when PR professionals (and freelancers) get the name of the magazine, or my name, wrong. I really appreciate it when people who are pitching take the time to get to know the magazine, and to tailor their pitches to its specific departments.
6. What is an example of the best/worst pitch you have received in the past six months?
I can’t think of a specific example, but, again, the best pitches are the ones that keep our production timeline in mind, that are geared to a specific department and that present us with something new or unexpected. The most irksome ones are the ones that pitch on places WestJet doesn’t fly to.
7. Should PR professionals be incorporating social media ready content in their pitches for you? If so, what do you need?
This isn’t a priority when pitching our magazine, but, that being said, it’s always nice to have photos readily available.
8. In your perspective – where is Canadian travel editorial heading?
I think that, even with the proliferation of social media-derived travel tips and user-generated content, readers (especially lovers of travel) will always seek out informative and authoritative content from travel publications. There’s something really wonderful about having access to both.
9. Is there a place you’ve visited for work that is your most memorable or favourite? Or somewhere you would love to visit?
I really don’t have a favourite. I’ve found something to love about every place I’ve ever travelled to, whether I’m travelling for work or pleasure.