News & Views

How to Pitch: Digital Influencers, Hopscotch the Globe

The past few months have been difficult for U.S. and Canadian influencers. As DCI reports in A View from Digital Influencers in the Era of COVID-19, however, there’s no stopping these storytellers.

We spoke to Kristen and Siya, the young and adventurous couple behind Hopscotch the Globe. The travel vloggers are veterans in the digital influencer space, they have shared their travel journeys, tips, reviews and more on their leading YouTube travel channel, lifestyle and travel blog and Instagram. The travel duo have experienced it all throughout their many years in the industry. Now, they are eager to share their expertise as Canadian influencers in the digital space during COVID-19.

We were interested to learn how the pandemic is impacting their content. What will the role of influencers be as we start to look towards recovery? How can PR professionals best work alongside them during this time?

DCI: COVID-19 has posed a lot of challenges and changes to the media industry. It’s also turned a lot more attention to social media. Instagram is seeing a 40% increase in usage and nearly 80% of influencers are reporting higher engagement from their followers. Are you seeing this impact on your channels? Do you find this has caused a shift in your content at all?

HSG: With more people at home and looking for things to do to fill their time, we are seeing more people online. We’ve shifted our content a bit to take this opportunity to teach our audience how to embrace culture at home. Prior to COVID-19, we wanted to share this type of content for those who aspire to travel and want to explore different cultures but are faced with obstacles (i.e. finding the time, financially, etc.). Now is the perfect time to start sharing these stories and getting our audiences culturally immersed within their homes, through recipes, playlists or home remedies.

Something we’ve always been interested in are the medicinal components of natural herbs, which we’ve explored on our travels. We created content during this pandemic to teach people how to use these cultural remedies to boost their immunity – at a time when people’s interest in their health and wellbeing is at an all-time-high. These are stories that we’re passionate about and feel are important to bring some worldly experience into people’s lives while we’re at home.

DCI: During this crisis, what elements of a PR pitch have been successful in piquing your interest? Which are off the mark? Has this changed from the type of pitches that interested you before COVID-19?

HSG: Being in tune with what’s going on in the world is important and immediately grabs our attention. If you’re not being sensitive or acknowledging the topic, then it’s unlikely that we’ll take interest in your pitch. Also, we typically ignore an email that doesn’t address us directly.

Pitches that are mindful of the COVID-19 situation and are creative draw us in. For example, given the situation, people generally have more time on their hands to focus on things that they’ve typically put on the backburner – like learning a new language. It is great timing to partner with Babble to encourage our audience to learn a new language while at home. There’s little-to-no excuse not to try! This type of content still covers travel, but in a creative way that encourages people to think differently and try something new.

DCI: In the wake of COVID-19, what changes do you anticipate for the future of social media and Canadian influencers in the travel sphere specifically?

HSG: Influencers who are just entering the social media world (i.e. those that made the decision in 2019 and are getting started now) will likely face obstacles, because they lack the experience and established followings and relationships that veteran influencers have cultivated to get through this challenging time.

Going forward, influencer content will be heavily analyzed and scrutinized by audiences. People will closely look at the health and safety parameters that travel influencers utilize as travel picks up. Ensuring that content showcases higher standards of hygiene will be crucial for engagement.

We also think it’s likely the domestic travel will rebound first, with Canadians prioritizing trips that explore their own backyard for now.

DCI: What role do you think Canadian influencers will play in the recovery of the travel and tourism industry?

HSG: Influencers will undoubtedly play an imperative role to re-introduce travel to the world. Experienced influencers will lead the charge in setting the stage for recovery and show that the world is ready for travel once again. With devoted and loyal followers, people will look to influencers for the travel greenlight, inspiration and will help re-establish traveler confidence.

DCI: What should publicists or brands keep in mind when reaching out to you at this time?

HSG: During this time, PR professionals should ensure that their brand, whether it is a destination or other travel organization is aligned with the vision of Hopscotch the Globe. It needs to make sense and be a natural, organic fit for both brands to work together.

DCI: Do you have any advice to share with tourism boards on how to best work with travel influencers as we slowly begin to be forward-thinking about recovery?

HSG: First and foremost, be upfront about the situation – especially if the product you’re marketing is a destination during COVID-19. Be forthcoming about the pandemic’s impact on your destination, what steps have been taken in response and an honest depiction of where the destination is in recovery. Providing us with an honest and accurate perspective will help bring our guards down right from the start (honesty goes a long way!). Destinations should recognize that although press trips and travel are on hold right now, there is always a creative new path to follow and we are open to innovative opportunities. Sending a destination-in-a-box kit, promoting destination education for families or fun recipes and playlists are examples of fun ideas to interact with destinations in a creative way.

DCI: We hear you have some big travel plans for this year. What are you thinking those plans will look like for 2020, and even 2021 now?

HSG: As it stands for 2020, we have our sights set on domestic travel. We would love to head West, but to also take our Airstream and explore parts of Ontario that we’ve always said we would see later. Once things begin to open up, we plan to head to the U.S. We’re taking it one day at a time, but 2021 seems to be the year for international travel – we currently have a trip planned for Costa Rica in September, which we haven’t cancelled but will revisit closer to the date.

Influencer marketing may be new for many destinations, but at DCI we’ve been leading the way in digital content opportunities. Get in touch with Daniella Middleton at [email protected] to learn how DCI can help your destination marketing efforts by working with U.S. and Canadian influencers.

Written By

Ashley Kotar

Ashley Kotar is a destination marketing and public relations practitioner who is an ambassador for the power of Millennial travel dollar.

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