How to Pitch: DeAnna Taylor, Travel NoireSeptember 10, 2020
DeAnna Taylor wasn’t always a travel writer at Travel Noire. This former attorney decided to change her path in life mid-flight and took a new direction. Today she writes about her native Charlotte and wider travel experiences for multiple publications. A blogger, SEO expert and editor, Taylor wears all sorts of hats, with a robust career that, like many others, has its ups and downs in this new reality.
As a senior staff writer at Travel Noire, however, her job is nothing short of timely. Travel Noire is a digital publication that focuses on “millennials of the African Diaspora,” and its stories focus on travel experiences through a series of focused lenses. While the publication’s biggest markets are New York, LA, and Charlotte, Taylor shares her truly diverse experiences, including living as a Black woman in South Korea.
As destinations face the reality that calls for racial quality will not cease, it’s time to get in better touch with publications facing Black audiences. In order to understand what its writers look for in pitches, we sat down with DeAnna Taylor to get a better idea of what specific angles and approaches catch her attention, and that of her colleagues at Travel Noire.
DCI: What elements influence whether or not you read a PR pitch?
DT: First and foremost, it needs to appeal to our audience but it doesn’t have to be Black focused. Although we’re a Black-owned and Black-focused publication, we don’t only choose pitches that highlight Black experiences and issues. We’re travelers first, and we’re millennial urban travelers ranging in age from 25-45. Experiences like new trendy hotels and events tend to catch our eyes because we also like to attend those types of things, too. We have parents that read our content so we will highlight family themed experiences but a lot of children’s museums or American history museums will not always appeal to us.
DCI: What should a publicist consider when they pitch you a travel story idea?
DT: Keep in mind our target demographic. We’re about 75% women with an age range of 25-45. It’s important to home in on things that really appeal to that millennial demographic – and again it doesn’t have to be things tied to historical Black experiences but millennial travelers in general.
DCI: What types of story ideas excite you personally — and motivate you to pursue them further?
DT: Events – fun festivals, food and wine events. Although I’m not a drinker myself, I know from a content standpoint our audience love those types of events. New hotels, new technologically advanced hotels, off the beaten path destination experiences that are off the radar from general consumer knowledge, anything eco, luxe, budget friendly. We also look for new destination trends that haven’t been done before that are an interest for our audience
DCI: What are three important activities you’d like to experience on a press trip that cater to your readers?
DT: Food, like any type of trendy restaurants, mixology classes and unique mixology offerings. I’m a big water person so anything dealing with the water from the beach to water sports, marine life etc. excites me. Unique profiles within a destination is where it ties back into providing Black content – highlighting unique residents, talent, business owners – whether they opened a restaurant or have a special tour. Those experiences stand out to me personally because I like to really home in on personal stories as well and it’s something I really focus on at Travel Noire. I will ask the destination rep about the owner’s story, and if I can interview that person so I can pull out even more content to drive readers to visit that place.
DCI: Name one to two trends specifically for Black travelers that you see evolving the tourism industry.
DT: Highlighting Black-owned experiences, especially now more than ever given recent events, is key, so highlighting Black-owned businesses, restaurants, tours, etc. Also, our readers are more interested in learning about Black-owned happenings all over the globe, not just domestically – finding those hidden gems that appeal to our own culture.
Destinations that are welcoming of Black travelers are also a big thing so just because you’re a beach destination doesn’t mean Black travelers will go and actually enjoy themselves and feel comfortable on the beach. They like to see places that have a lot of diversity, inclusiveness and a welcoming atmosphere for us in general and it doesn’t necessarily have to be anything where its directly stated in a release. Through the content the destination puts out, travelers can see a variety of people and ethnicities, races featured in the destination’s branding and marketing will drive Black travelers to visit.
DCI: From your perspective, where is U.S. travel editorial heading?
DT: That’s a hard question to answer because day to day we don’t know where the country is going as far as even allowing travel. That will need to be determined first for us to then know what to home in on in terms of domestic content. We don’t know how destinations and businesses are going to recover from the pandemic – long standing businesses are going under.
Travel Noire will continue to keep up with the news and where government and recommendations of organizations like the CDC are taking us to really ensure that we’re putting out content that will keep our readers safe.
Interested in how to connect with Black audiences in order to not just appear more inclusive, but to truly embrace an inclusive approach to your marketing strategies? DCI would very much like that to be the case, and with 60 years of tourism marketing experience, we’re here to help. Get in touch with Symeria Palmer at [email protected] to learn how we can collaborate.