News & Views

How To Pitch: Sharon Boorstin, Los Angeles Times

Journalist looks at California landscapes

Sharon Boorstin, travel journalist, frequently covers locations like this, in Fort Bragg, NC.

Sharon Boorstin is a contributing travel writer for the Los Angeles Times, particularly “Weekend Escapes,” and 85 South, an Atlanta area publication. She is also the author of Let Us Eat Cake: Adventures in Food and Friendship. We caught up with Sharon to talk about what she looks for in a pitch and how travel publicists can better work with her and her colleagues at the Los Angeles Times

What elements influence whether or not you read a PR pitch?

The subject line is all important! It has to catch my eye, be to the point. If it’s about a place I’d like to visit for “Weekend Escapes,” I’ll read it. If there’s something new about the place — even if I hadn’t thought it would work for “Weekend Escapes,” I’ll take a look. “New” is important in a newspaper travel piece.

When a publicist pitches you a travel-related story idea, what three things should she or he consider before contacting you?

  • Will it work for a Los Angeles Times “Weekend Escape”?
  • Do some research online and see if your property/destination has been covered in the LA Times in the past three years. If it has, unless there is something new there, they won’t be interested.
  • Can you easily get there in a short time from Los Angeles? “Weekend Escape” destinations sometimes include Hawaii, and a few have been in Mexico, but most are in California, Arizona, Nevada, Oregon, Washington, sometimes Idaho, CO, NM.
  • Super luxury is inappropriate for the Los Angeles Times (it’s a daily paper, not Conde Nast Traveler). However, if there is something new or compelling that makes it worth a splurge, I can maybe make a case for it with the editor.

What is your pet peeve when being pitched and/or working with PR professionals?

I don’t like getting pitches for places and things that obviously would not work for a Los Angeles Times travel piece:  beer, fashion, a restaurant in New York, a luxury hotel in India. And as with the Los Angeles Times, if any outlet I write for doesn’t allow press trips, I must and do respect that.

What type of story ideas pique the interest of your readers?

For the Los Angeles Times, hotels/places/destinations that are within an easy drive or short flight from Los Angeles, and not more than $500 a night

Should PR professionals be incorporating social media-ready content in their pitches for you? What role does social media play in sourcing story ideas for you?

Not necessary for my stories, but I like a pitch to include links to websites, menus, brochures, etc. for my research.

What has been your favorite place to travel for a work or personal trip, and where are you most looking forward to visiting next?

This is a difficult question! I have been all over the world and I have loved just about every place I have ever traveled. I’m not interested in taking a vacation. To me, the joy of travel is learning about a new culture, the history of the destination, seeing art, enjoying local food and wine, meeting new people. I also am wild about wildlife, and will go anywhere to see animals in the wild — or a sanctuary.  I will consider a beach trip if there is snorkeling (love seeing tropical fish) or safe open-water (no big ocean waves.) And if there is more to the destination than the beach and nightlife. Oh, and I will go anywhere that offers horseback riding, a favorite thrill of mine since I was eight years old.

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