How to Pitch: Barry Choi, Canadian Travel & Finance WriterSeptember 10, 2019
Toronto-based travel and personal finance expert Barry Choi makes frequent broadcast appearances as one of Canada’s leading travel experts. He combines his knowledge of finance with his passion for travel to encourage people to see the world. Whether it’s adventure travel, a relaxing all-inclusive resort or backpacking through Europe, Barry shares practical tips every traveler should know regardless of budget.
DCI’s travel PR team had a chance to sit down with Barry to discuss how travel PR professionals can pitch Barry story ideas that appeal to him and his outlets.
Based on your experience as a successful freelance writer, what types of stories are editors seeking these days?
As you can imagine, it depends on the outlet. My finance-related outlets always want some kind of finance angle, which might be something as simple as how much it costs for dinner and a room in a destination or something as complex as comparing the cost of visiting different cities. Trends change all the time, and it also depends on each outlet’s goals. F
or a little while, roundups were (and still are) very popular with some of my outlets. Others have shifted their focus to SEO. To be honest, many outlets that switch their focus to SEO will usually realize that their readers don’t enjoy that and will stop focusing on SEO. For example, if you’re posting Black Friday deals in January, it’s obvious you’re doing it for click bait and SEO. I know there’s nothing of relevance in that article.
How should a travel PR professional tailor a pitch to make it as useful as possible to you?
This might be nearly impossible, but I need info that is relevant to my outlets. When I pitch TV stations to do a segment, I tend to give them three story angles so they can pick the one they like. Most press releases I get have only one story angle, whereas another angle might be a better fit for what I’m writing. I’m smart enough to figure that out on my own, but many people are lazy and don’t bother looking for other angles.
Do you see value in “trends”- or “stats”-based pitches from destination public relations staff, or do you feel like you already have a handle on the trends so these are a waste of time?
As a writer, I find that trends are good to a certain extent, but quite often my outlets aren’t interested in trends or stats unless they’re relevant to a specific story. For example, if we want to know if airfare prices have gone up, then trends would be good there.
What elements influence whether or not you read an emailed PR pitch?
If my name is wrong in the title (even when it’s automated), I stop reading immediately. If it’s clearly American-related information, yet I’m a Canadian writer, it can be a quick turnoff. I’m not saying American information isn’t relevant, but 401(k) plans or airlines that don’t fly to Canada will usually have little relevance to my audience.
What’s still on your personal (yet editorial) bucket list?
I love telling stories about traveling to fantastic places without spending a fortune. I’ve been fortunate to have already visited a ton of great places, so there’s nothing on my bucket list per se. There are a few destinations I still want to see including Morocco and Vietnam, but I know I’ll get there eventually.