7 top tips for travel PR companies pitching to bloggers

 

A while ago I wrote an article titled 7 top tips for running a successful travel blog.   It proved quite popular so hear I am back again, but this time with a slightly different slant on things.  As a travel blogger, I receive pitches from PR companies on a daily basis – often many a day – and so many of them just don’t seem to get it at all.

Spam

They don’t seem to realise that, with just a little care and effort on their part, they could get much better results from bloggers such as myself.  This post may seem a little grumpy or bossy on my part, but it’s actually designed to be helpful. So here I am with 7 top tips for travel PR companies – I probably haven’t thought of everything so do feel free to add your own in the comments that follow.

1. Remember that my time is money

I am not here just to do favours for you (although it has been known to happen on occasion). Please understand that (for me, at least), my blog is my business. Please therefore don’t expect me to do things for free. Are you working for your clients for free? No, I didn’t think so…

And don’t approach me saying how much you will pay for me to do something either! Do you go into a restaurant and tell the waiter how much you’ll pay for a steak? No!

2. Understand that I’m busy

Believe it or not, you are not the only PR company to contact me today.  In the case of A Luxury Travel Blog, we are contacted by tens of PR companies every day. With this in mind, you might like to keep to the point and tailor your pitch accordingly.  Don’t tell me how wonderful you think my site is, how you’re an avid fan or how much you enjoyed my post on “[insert post name]“. That just smacks of a feeble attempt to personalise things and win me over by ‘sucking up’ and, in my experience, is an approach that’s invariably taken by people visiting your site for the first time.

3. Read the guidelines

If you are given guidelines on how best to pitch to a particular publication, read them carefully. There’s often quite a lot of time invested in putting these documents together. If you can’t be bothered to read and adhere to them, then it’s probable that the person who went to the trouble of putting those guidelines together won’t be bothered either.  Thinking that the guidelines are for other people and don’t apply to you, isn’t a good idea!

This is arguably my biggest bugbear. In our case, we have very carefully-crafted, detailed guidelines and instructions on how you can be featured on A Luxury Travel Blog and yet so many PR companies disregard this documentation (and are consequently unsuccessful in getting their clients featured).

4. Don’t add me to your mailing list

When you contact me via our contact form and I send a reply, just because you now have my email address doesn’t mean I want to be added to your mailing list to receive ongoing press releases regarding all your clients. And when I grumble at you doing this, take appropriate action and don’t dare do it again!

5. Stop assuming I’m in London (or any other city for that matter)

Much though Londoners might like to think otherwise, the world doesn’t revolve around London. So please stop inviting me to Champagne receptions in the city (I get several of this kind of thing each day) so I can hear all about your latest client. I’m sure it’s probably a wonderful get-together but it’s a 6-hour return trip for me by train (10 hours by car). That’s essentially a whole day out of the office, not to mention travel costs. And don’t take the hump when I politely decline either – afterall, it’s cheaper for me to just go and buy half a case of Champagne myself.  If you still really, really want my attendance, at least offer to address my expenses.

6. Submit something interesting

Only contact us if you’ve got something that’s really worth sharing. The fact that XYZ hotel has a new head waiter isn’t really that interesting or news-worthy. Tell me something unique, something fascinating or something that will really capture our readers’ imaginations.

And don’t even think about pitching to me if your product is not related to the publication in question. I don’t really care if it’s the best online poker site out there if it’s not relevant to what I do.

7. Don’t send me lots of (large) attachments

Please don’t send me large PDFs and/or JPGs that I haven’t asked for. I don’t really want a dozen high resolution images, thank you very much (or even a zipped version of them)… or a login for your media site, for that matter. If I really need something, how about I just let you know?

Comments (19)

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  1. Hello.
    We’re a tiny foodie travel company launching next week, with a focus on slow food and amazing wine. Our tours are organised around visiting the suppliers of our local deli, and getting totally behind the scenes of a country this way. We’re not just for wine buffs or chefs, but for food lovers who wants something special: single estate olive oil, award-winning Brunello di Montalcino, and restaurants where the chefs are hotly tipped for the next Michelin star. Along the way we’ll swing by local restaurants where we know the owners by name, pause at a nearby monastery to listen to the morning chant, and stop for lunch with our friends at the artisan cheesemakers. And all in Cetona, a part of Tuscany well away from the well-trodden circuit.

    We’d absolutely love to feature on the blog, so if you’d like more information, please do let us know.

  2. Paul Johnson says:

    Hello Alexandra

    Thank you for dropping by. If you’d like to know more about how to feature on the blog, you can contact us via http://www.aluxurytravelblog.com/contact-us

    Kind regards

    Paul

  3. Omg, you hit this right on the spot over and over. Excellent post! Thanks for sharing this and I hope the industry takes note.

  4. Paul Johnson says:

    Thank you, David… I’m sure I haven’t covered everything, but those were some of the key points that sprung to mind when I quickly rattled off the post. It would be interesting to hear what PR companies think about this post, as well as bloggers. Perhaps they have another angle from which to comment.

  5. I’m actually glad you highlighted this as many bloggers are easily charmed by the free trips. The problem over here is that most so-called travel bloggers have day jobs hence they will snap up any ‘free’ offers in return for content. This is something that needs to be looked into seriously as it is affecting the working bloggers. One of my clients told me once – ‘other bloggers are doing it for free, why should I pay you’….. and there you go.

  6. Paul Johnson says:

    …and I suppose the answer to that is “ah, but my blog is better!”

    I get the “others are doing it for free” or “you are too expensive” line from a few PR companies, but the reality is that, when you press these people as to who is doing it for free, I find it’s not usually blogs with a serious online presence.

  7. You’re absolutely right about that, cause over here in Southeast Asia, people (clients/pr) are still thinking that having a travel blog means you have instant traffic and so on. My job is to educate the PR people, but it’s not easy over here. One day….one day :)

  8. Jackie Smith says:

    I am one of those bloggers with a different approach to this topic: I welcome the PR pitches and some of my best blogs (and later freelance, paid articles) have resulted from the incessant ‘pitches’ of PR folks. The regulars have come to know that certain media won’t allow me to accept ‘freebies’ but they send the information, to keep me in the loop anyway. In turn, I know who to contact when I need information and they do the legwork for me. . .and it usually has nothing to do with one of their previous ‘pitches’. And how can any travel writer (blogger, freelancer or book author) have enough time – and/or funds – to stay abreast of all the new properties, destinations, programs and changes in this rapidly changing industry if it weren’t for the PR folks? If any are readying this post, rest assured this blogger/writer welcomes your information!

  9. Paul Johnson says:

    Thank you for dropping by and an alternative take on things, Jackie. I am guessing our difference of opinion might be a question of scale. I don’t know how many pitches you’re receiving on a daily basis (I receive a lot), but would you still be happy to receive them all if they were, say, ten times the level that you currently get? There comes a point, I think, when they can become a nuisance.

  10. Keryn says:

    I think #2 is my biggest pet peeve at the moment. The number of spammy emails I get from “writers/bloggers/PR people” wanting to give me “free” content is infuriating. I once laugh at it, but as my blog gets bigger the emails continue to grow. Stop filling up my inbox with “Hello, have we got a story for you .” Do your research. Know who I am and who my readers are before you send me a pitch that is so far off base it should be on another continent. And PLEASE take me off your mailing list, especially if I ask you to!

  11. Patrick says:

    Great article. On the other hand, we love attachments, with content. So why is it a problem to receive these?

  12. Lela says:

    One word: Awesome.

    Since my comment is too short, let me type more. If you receive truckloads of emails, I can’t imagine the number of junkmails or spams!

  13. Jim Sullivan says:

    Good post, Paul. And here’s some additional perspective. At my PR agency, we’re pitching by bloggers regularly. Unless, it’s a well-established blog, we’re hard pressed to put in the time it takes to work on an itinerary for a travel writer unless we have a handle on their analytics. When we started engaging with bloggers regularly, we learned quickly that it’s easy to have a nice looking blog, harder to have a blog that commands a lot of eyeballs. Bloggers that can get my client hotels and resorts in front of their audience of, say, 245 uniques per month, well, I’m reminded of your point #1 above. So here’s a question. Just how big does a blog have to be before it’s as attractive as an established travel magazine? What are the most meaningful metrics? Your uniques? Page views? Your Facebook likes?

  14. Paul Johnson says:

    Hello Patrick… I didn’t say all attachments are a problem, but specified attachments “that I haven’t asked for”. Sending (particularly large) attachments to people when it may be material that they don’t need or want, is simply poor email etiquette. It can clog up email systems, use unnecessary bandwidth, etc.

  15. Paul Johnson says:

    Hello Jim… good question. One of the first things we refer people to when they contact us is a part of our site dedicated to PR companies. Before going on to outline the available opportunities, we make a point of giving some facts and figures about the site.

    In our case (at the time of writing)…

    75,000+ uniques a month
    5,000+ posts
    300+ authors
    14,000+ Facebook likes
    196,000+ Twitter followers
    8,000+ in Google+ circles

    We also link to a resource that gives some additional insights into our site visitors (user demographics), and on our ‘about’ page you will see endorsements from PR companies and others who have used A Luxury Travel Blog’s services in the past.

    I think you need to look at all these factors and build up a picture as best you can from the information available as to whether you think it is a “well-established blog” as you put it.

    I don’t think you can say any one metric is the most useful – ideally, you need to look at the whole picture and make your assessment from that.

  16. Becky says:

    This. 1000 times this. On a recent press trip our PR asked for feedback and the majority of these points featured. My other favourite is ‘it’s not an advertisement, it’s an infographic’, which leads me neatly back to point 1: are you working for free? No? Well don’t expect me to then.

  17. Cherie says:

    ‘Infographic’ pitches are the worst! The best way to engage with bloggers is to be real and approach on an individual basis.

    I don’t mind receiving general press releases, however it’s annoying being continually pursued about a hotel’s seasonal package when I don’t at present cover travel ‘news’ or packages.

    Bloggers have certain responsibilities to maintain the credibility of blogging and good PR relations, but it’s work on both sides.

  18. carol lovell says:

    I’m late to the party on this, but oh how helpful it has been! As a new business that cannot afford a PR agency, I am delighted to read a post from a blogger about how they would like/prefer to be approached by us. I’m heading straight to the link you provided about how to feature on your blog. Thank you! Regards, Carol.

  19. Chris Ball says:

    Nice post.

    It’s all common sense really, but a few timely reminders :)

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