Lessons from SATW: How To Pitch Travel Editor Lydia Schrandt, USA TODAY 10BestOctober 26, 2018
Lydia Schrandt is the Senior Photo and Travel Editor and Readers’ Choice Production Manager for USA TODAY 10Best, a site that provides users with original, unbiased and experiential travel coverage of top attractions, things to see and do, and restaurants for top destinations in the U.S. and around the world. She is also a freelance journalist, and her work has appeared in several print and digital publications, including Draft, The Boomer Magazine, and enVoyage.
We caught up with Lydia at the SATW Annual Conference in Barbados to talk about what she looks for in a pitch and where she’s hoping to travel to next.
What elements influence whether or not you read a PR pitch?
Definitely a catchy subject line; it has to catch my attention and be relevant to what we cover. I would also consider a pitch more so if it had available b-roll video for us to view and use. We launched a YouTube series of short videos and video b-roll is always something I can use; it also gives me further insight into what the essence of a pitch is all about. Video is a great tool.
When a publicist pitches you a travel-related story idea, what three things should she or he consider before contacting you?
- Do your research and don’t send me something completely out of left field. Think about: “does the product or experience you are pitching me match the sort of content we publish? Has it already been published on our site the past 6 months?”
- Tailor and individualize the pitch. Think about what makes this topic or experience unique and how its innovative or relevant to readers.
- Feel free to include other subjects to consider for a larger round up/trend story. I’m open to hearing a theme you’ve identified as something that is trending, how your destination fits into this theme and other places following suit. Again, I would also love b-roll with a pitch like this.
What is your pet peeve as a travel editor when being pitched and/or working with PR professionals?
When someone hasn’t done their research and I can tell I was pitched just off a blast list. Take the time to do a little research about what we are publishing and ensure the content is relevant to what we cover before just sending me an email.
What type of story ideas pique the interest of your readers?
Our audience is young families, Gen Y and Millennials who are looking for ideas and experiences they may not already be aware of, sort of an off the beaten path from your typical tourist guide. Our readers want to make an authentic connection with the destination and actually interact with the community in these places. Exciting food stories and interesting culinary offerings usually do well for us.
Should PR professionals be incorporating social media-ready content in their pitches for you as a travel editor? What role does social media play in sourcing story ideas for you?
YES! Especially video, having that b-roll available to us allows us to put together a quick social media post out to promote the subject. We socialize everything on our USATODAY 10Best platforms which feeds into the USATODAY channels as well on a sporadic basis.
What has been your favorite place to travel for a work or personal trip, and where are you most looking forward to visiting next?
I loved the Galapagos Islands, the wildlife there was truly amazing. I also really enjoyed my time in Newfoundland in Canada because it was a true authentic experience, nothing pretentious about the trip; the destination was unspoiled, and I got a sense that no one was trying to impress anyone, it was just a great place that spoke for itself.
For my next visit, I would love to go to Africa and see the wildlife there, maybe do a safari. Antarctica is another place I would love to go visit because it may not be a big draw, but I’d look forward to uncovering what is underneath and dive more into the destination.
Have any other tips for pitching USA TODAY 10Best? Tweet us @aboutdci.