How to Pitch: Glenn Alderson, BeatRouteAugust 20, 2020
Up until COVID-19 shifted the tourism industry, media marketing had a standard approach, according to Glenn Alderson. As DCI reports in A New View: Travel Marketing Past the Peak of COVID-19, however, media pitching practices have changed as journalists encounter new challenges of their own.
We spoke to Glenn Alderson, editor-in-chief and co-founder of the national music magazine BeatRoute in Canada. Glenn co-founded BeatRoute Media in 2004 as a street publication in Calgary, AB and has since expanded to have print editions in BC (Vancouver, Victoria, Nanaimo) and Ontario (Toronto) plus an online component that repositioned BeatRoute as an international media company.
We were interested to learn how the pandemic is impacting BeatRoute and Glenn’s marketing plans.
DCI: What does a successful PR pitch look like from your perspective, as an editor?
GA: Ultimately, publicists work with their client to craft a story so journalists can interpret it through the lens of their publication. Publicists have a unique opportunity to create the narrative. It’s especially helpful when I have everything that I need from the pitch, like hi-res photos, links, interviews and real life experiences to reflect on. With tourism boards, PR people pitch to mostly travel writers, but I appreciate when publicists know who they are pitching to beyond the typical travel writer story. It’s important to send me a pitch with a music lens or something that can apply to my niche audience.
Lastly, I like to highlight connections that might be interesting or relevant to our readers. For example, are there celebrities who are from the destination of interest? i.e. Rihanna in Barbados being born there. Endorsements and tie-ins of that sort are cool for BeatRoute’s pop culture angle.
DCI: What is your biggest pet peeve when being pitched and/or working with PR professionals?
GA: I do not like when publicists send me attachments – especially when they are big file sizes. I’d rather have a concise story with links. Also, acknowledging that editors receive hundreds of emails a day so go easy on them and don’t be upset if you don’t get a reply right away.
DCI: What information should be included in a press trip invite to help you consider the opportunity? And post-COVID, what would that look like??
GA: In a post-COVID world, sharing the precautionary measures that destinations have in place will be important. I want to make sure that we, as visitors, are not a threat, so we want publicists to share what we need to do to ensure we can participate. For example, the face mask should be looked at as a symbol of respect as opposed to being a threat. If the measures are super strict, it may stop me from attending, too, so I need a balance to consider the opportunity.
DCI: How do you like to tie travel into your music niche content?
GA: In any possible way! Where to go beyond the concert, a virtual tour of any given city, perhaps hosted by a band or artist. Or examples of how music is adapting and existing in these communities is also very interesting.
DCI: COVID-19 has posed a lot of challenges and changes to the media industry, and we are seeing a greater shift to online content more than ever. Are you seeing this impact on your channels? Do you find this has caused a permanent change?
GA: As soon as the pandemic hit, we were forced to lay off some key members of our staff, and lost 90% of our print ad clients. Our print advertisers are mostly events-based, and with no events happening, there is no revenue. Canada has generally conservative consumers, so there is a huge buyer’s risk perception. The plus side is we’ve now transitioned into a full digital mode, and are exploring new ways to tell stories and share positive experiences through our online channels.
Further to this, we have a contesting platform called Loycals, which is a gamified contesting platform where we offer giveaways that are shareable which gets more entries, meaning everyone who is engaged in campaign is signed up for our newsletters and helps us market better. We are also able to share analytics and data with branded partners.
Online, the language in which we use to tell stories naturally changes. We want to feel more pop-culture forward than hyper-local. Through this, we are getting a wider reception. We still have our roots in the local, as we have people on the ground across Canada, but as a result of this pandemic, we definitely have a more international lens.
DCI: In the wake of COVID-19, what changes do you anticipate for the future of music writing and Canadian music media specifically?
GA: For BeatRoute, now when we are writing about a band, we look at how somebody in Berlin would read an article about this band or fashion designer. How does it relate to them, rather than alienate them?
We are looking at more sponsored content and editorial partnerships on a case-by-case basis. We want to have positive shareable experiences, but need to be mindful of budgets and our time, which I think is not only affecting music writing but the entire music industry.
DCI: So, Glenn, what role do you think travel writers will play in the recovery of the travel and tourism industry?
GA: Travel writers have always been the leaders in generating FOMO. With the pandemic, there hasn’t been anything to worry about missing out on but as soon as countries start opening up to visitors and sectors of these economies become shareable again, travel writers will be there to step up and share these experiences.
Marketing efforts for destinations are changing, and DCI wants to make sure you’re changing with them, and Glenn Alderson is just one example of how to do that. Get in touch with Tania Kedikian at [email protected] to learn more about how our agency can help you evolve in this new travel media landscape we’re all facing.