PRSA Recap: Pitching to Non-Travel MediaOctober 04, 2023
Headlines in mainstream travel publications are big wins, but pitching non-travel media is also an effective way to engage with your target consumers as they are pursuing their non-travel passions. At this year’s Public Relations Society of America travel and tourism section conference, editors from non-travel outlets shared ways to connect with their audiences.
Karen Cicero, Contributing Travel Editor at Good Housekeeping, and Lindsay Paige Stein, Director of Media Relations at The Decker/Royal Agency, joined in a panel discussion to provide the following takeaways. Destinations looking to expand your brand’s awareness, listen up!
1. Keep True to Audiences
Everyone can be a traveler, but non-travel media attracts very specific audiences. Whether it’s adventure or gardening, sports or automobiles, destinations must always embrace the audience’s first passion to be considered for coverage. Be sure that every pitch leads with why your destination is right for the publication’s niche audiences. Speak to these readers specifically, not to travelers in general.
Be even more specific with editors who may cover multiple beats for a lifestyle publication. They are looking for news angles that appeal to their readers, so lead with that as much as possible.
2. Create Relationship with Editors
Don’t slip into anyone’s Instagram DMs uninvited. Editors and writers alike prefer publicists who foster relationships with them, so cultivate it over a coffee or a call. Editors also shared that publications are more likely to create travel content in-house due to budget cuts, so freelancers are less relevant for non-travel publications.
While building relationships, resist asking an editor to guarantee coverage. In general, press trips or invites will garner some sort of coverage, but trying to secure it before the fact is not effective – and is often considered unethical by most journalists.
3. Submit for Awards
We’ve espoused the virtues of tourism marketing awards, but a great way to connect with non-travel media is by applying for their publications’ awards. For example, the Good Housekeeping’s 2023 Family Travel Awards is a fantastic opportunity to get your destination in front of family-oriented audiences that aren’t part of traditional travel outlets.
While it may not be frontpage coverage, winning these sorts of awards creates shareable content across new channels and new audiences that are receptive to your destination’s offerings.
4. Manage Expectations for Coverage
Editors caution destinations to keep expectations moderate. Non-travel publications may produce less travel content, but traffic – and audiences that are receptive to your very targeted messages – is often higher.
Get comfortable with roundups, which require less from you, but generate big results all the same. So instead of asking for a feature on your destination, reconsider pitching by saying, “I’d love to work with you on a story that includes our destination.” It shows that you understand that non-travel publications are not regularly crafting major travel features, but still produce travel content.
5. Focus. Focus. Oh, and Focus.
Got that? Instead of trying to offer something for everyone in your destination – a much-hated cliché in the travel media – show that your destination has something super specific for the target audience. It’s OK to discuss your destination’s niche offerings for a niche audience. Shoehorning your top hotels and restaurants into a pitch about a new nature reserve for an outdoor publication will dilute your pitch, so lean into a tighter angle.
And, once more, keep it focused!
6. Check the Calendar
While travel publications understandably push out travel content year-round, non-travel media has a different agenda altogether. Check with them at the beginning of the year and if there’s a strong fit for an angle including your destination, pitch as soon as possible.
A calendar, however, is far from the final word. It’s fluid at best. Editors love when they get scoops, so a story that is timely that may seem a bit oddly timed could be a big win for you.
7. Refresh Your Images
Non-travel media aren’t going to have access to photographers like a travel magazine might. Pitch effectively by including a link to quality images and give them permission to access it immediately. If an editor has to wait several days for photos to clear, they’ll be less inclined to work with you. Also, be sure that photos are organized into folders and, where possible, that photo shoots reflect relevant diversity. It’s 2023 – we can all do better!
Landing your destination in non-travel media outlets reinforces your key messages to your target consumers. Get in touch with Daniella Middleton at [email protected] to learn how DCI’s more than 60 years of experience can help you expand your consumer engagement via media relations.