I recently had the pleasure of participating in a panel discussion with some of Seattle’s top media who share destination stories for a living, including Anne Erickson, producer at KING 5’s Evening Magazine; Leslie Forsberg, senior editor at AAA Journey and Carol Pucci, travel blogger and freelance writer for The Seattle Times and Northwest Travel. With more than 50 of Whidbey and Camano Island’s innkeepers, restaurant owners, tourism professionals and small business owners in attendance we discussed the art of how to “Perfect Your Pitch,” sharing tips and tricks from both sides of the news desk. Here I share a condensed summary as the five key takeaways to perfect your pitch:
- Be brief. When answering the question, “How do you like to be pitched?” the answers all focused on brevity. Being relevant, timely and to the point was a key theme throughout the panel. Leslie mentioned the importance of “piquing my interest vs. satisfying it.” Press releases are valuable when it comes to launches, events and topics many details but consider roundup pitches with ideas in a succinct list for destination pitching.
- Be comprehensive. This may seem to contradict to the above, but hear me out. A story needs to be covered from several sides. While it may seem counter intuitive to pitch a competing business alongside your own – say another restaurant or hotel within a similar region or trend – it actually strengthens the theme, provides editorial interest and a compelling reason to be shared.
- Be creative. You obviously won’t have a new opening, multi-million-dollar renovation or product launch every quarter so it’s important to take a fresh look at your story and approach it with a different angle. Think off-season or experiential travel, learning vacations, quirky character profiles or trend stories. Anne shared an example of the longstanding small town bakery who made a relevant pitch regarding Pi day on March 14 and Carol brought up the winter on Whidbey Island piece that appeared in Northwest Travel last year.
- Be available. Whether it’s a responsive media contact listed in your online press room or making the time to meet and host with travel writers on assignment, it’s crucial that you make yourself or your offering available to media. In the same way famed tech reviewer David Pogue wouldn’t cover the latest gadget, travel writers can’t provide an accurate account without experiencing it. That being said, there was debate over the value of the FAM tour. Most media agreed that while they like to see the itineraries and experiences included in a group tour, most don’t have time to commit and also prefer the exclusive access an individual trip offers.
- Be useful. Consider your assets and ensure that your photography, video and press documents are up to date. Invest in quality photography that shows multiple seasons, menus and offerings and invest in beauty b-roll for those last minute requests. A brief history, story or bio should appear on your site – the writers unanimously agreed they always seek out the story of a business, typically appearing in the “about” section of a website.
The list above doesn’t mention relationship building, but it is at the heart of each of these recommendations. Being a useful partner in helping media do their job will ensure they come back to you time again for future stories. Happy pitching!