So you’ve decided you’re ready to go on a press trip and pitch a destination, hotel or brand to sponsor you. Making that decision is the easy part. So what’s your next step?
In this outline, I hope to provide advice on how to pitch with the right information to gain success. Pitching is one part storytelling and one part negotiating to get what you need. It’s a finite process that goes back and forth between two parties. Having the credentials (great blog, social media numbers etc) is one element that gets you past the front door, but it’s also about building a relationship. Conveying your ideas and how they align with the mandate of your travel partner (Hotel, CVB, PR Agency or Tourism Board) is key.
1. Research the area you plan to visit. Each DMO or Public Relations agency managing the promotion of the destination has a working budget, and a mandate on which aspects of their region they’re promoting.
E.g. Chile Tourism is promoting their indigenous cultures in 2015. Travelers with pitches to cover the culture of Chile will have a stronger success ratio. For 2015, Ecuador is promoting 4 destinations in one. Which category are you looking to explore?
2. Think like a private investigator. Finding the right contact to connect with can sometimes be a challenge. I’ve spent countless hours tracking people down. I’m a bit dogmatic that way and don’t give up easily. Make sure you are connecting with the right decision maker.
3. Define your primary goals for sponsorship. What, specifically, are you looking for assistance with; hotel coverage, tours, dining, flights or an organized itinerary with everything included.
4. Create an outline of what you plan to cover with your visit. For example when I visited Montana I had specific destinations in mind: Yellowstone National Park, Dude Ranch and restaurants in Bozeman. I also wanted to do a story about Montana foods including Huckleberries, Whiskey, Bison meat, Beer, Beef etc. When people think of Montana they don’t usually think of food specific to that region. During my next trip I plan to the cover the cowboy life and food they love to eat.
5. In your planning do a search on Google to see what has been written about the destination so that you’re not repeating stories. Find unique angles that would appeal to your readers and the sponsor.
E.g. Instead of doing a hotel review, write about one unique aspect of the property – “Best Whiskey Bar in the Caribbean” can be found at …. or in my case I’m crazy about Belize so I created this outline:
6. The art of the pitch is all about “selling”. Think about how you can you put yourself in the best possible light. What are your strengths in storytelling? What are your ideas regarding the destination?
7. Start with a phone call to the travel partner and then follow-up with an email.
8. In writing your email pitch here are a few tips:
- Keep your email clear and concise. I like to use bullet points so anyone doing a quick read can instantly review your request.
- In the Introduction, include who you are, and why you want to visit e.g. California’s Orange County in the next couple of months.
- Be specific about what you need help with e.g. organized press trip, coverage for hotels, activities specific to that region or solo travel.
- Outline your credentials: This could include where you publish beside your blog, your bio, target audience, your social media stats, page views on the blog etc Take a peek at how Will at Going Awesome Places has created a very visual media kit.
- Don’t be too sappy in your email, or overpromise coverage (tie your coverage to how many dollars are being spent on your visit). Remember this is a business transaction.
Finally, don’t be disheartened if after all your efforts the requested support doesn’t materialize. Some travel partners just simply don’t “get” the benefits of sponsorship. Perhaps its simply a case of budget (funds have been used up) or timing. I’ve had tourism boards state that they are interested, but simply can’t seem to get their act together.
Remember, the more you pitch the better you get at it and increase your chance for success.