Travel Writers Won’t Pay Attention to You If…

The Travel Mole reported the results of a PR survey today that shed meaningful illumination on the needs of travel writers. The survey, conducted by an Australian media consultant, debunks many of the standard operating procedures in the hospitality industry. To wit:

Just 8% of travel writers “want” press packs or press kits on paper. And with good reason. If you’re a travel writer, you’re in transit. You’ve got limited space in your luggage, and you don’t want the extra weight. Moreover, you’d rather have a link to a soft copy of that fact sheet, or that press release, because if you can save yourself some data entry, and the risk of retyping something improperly, so much the better.

Quite often, hotels insist on producing paper press kits. By putting something palpable in a writer’s hands, they believe they’re enabling greater receptivity. But in fact, the consequence is just the opposite. As to those 8%, I’m betting that 95% of them never give the paper another glance. We’ve lodged all of our press kits, (fact sheets, easy-to-download high-res images, press releases et al) online for several years now. For this, for providing hassle-free access to important info, we get points from the media.

The survey also points out that 75% of travel writers loathe phone calls after a press release has gone out. Clients often think this is necessary, but we at Balcony Media, as a matter of course, don’t do this. Why? Because travel writers don’t want that kind of contact. From 1995 – 2005, I was editor-in-chief on a newspaper in the States. When PRs called me to follow up on that release, they were wasting my time. If your news didn’t grab me on paper, your cheerful voice on the other end of the line was not going to push me over the edge.

Don’t get me wrong. I like talking to nice people, and I’m moved by friendliness. But if you haven’t given me something I can use – a judgment I can make on the spot when I’ve looked at your stuff – then your follow-up call will not make a critical distance.

Another interesting nugget is this: 86% of travel writers want to be pitched by email. They don’t want to listen to you on the phone. They don’t want to be schmoozed at a cocktail party. Those factors can be useful, but – and this is the important distinction – they are not critically important. That pitch has got to be succinct and communicable in print.

None of this is news to us at Balcony Media. All of us come from the ranks of working journalists. We talk about this stuff all the time. It’s good to see that others are talking about it, too.

Jim Sullivan Managing Director
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