Find Your Forward: Q&A with Top Travel Journalists

We are in this together. Having specialized in hospitality and economic development for over 20 years, we too are spending a great deal of time determining best practices in an ever changing world.
We are gathering the latest research studies and information to help strategize our plans moving forward. As we navigate this new landscape, we want to be a resource for our fellow travel and tourism partners. So as we find our new forward, we will be offering insight and advice on marketing tactics, including PR, social, and digital.

The Current Media Landscape

What top journalists say about pitching right now

Is it OK for public relations professionals and businesses to pitch you right now?
Karen Kirkpatrick (Georgia Trend): Absolutely. Please look at our editorial calendar and pitch for a specific story or department — though things are in flux a bit as coronavirus and social distancing continue.
Suzanne Van Atten (AJC): We are continuing to run traditional destination travel pieces with an eye toward planning for the future.
What should we be aware of before pitching you?

Karen Kirkpatrick (Georgia Trend): Be familiar with the magazine and our blog — Latest Trends. Tailor the pitch to us — business, economic development, cool research, tourism, workforce development, politics — and to a specific story from the editorial calendar or to the blog — a kind of catchall where we cover a variety of businesses, nonprofits, local leaders, really anything in Georgia that catches our eye.

Suzanne Van Atten (AJC): We include an advisory noting that most businesses are temporarily closed during the pandemic. We are steering clear of event-related stories at this time.

What type of information are you most interested in?

Valerie Luesse (Southern Living): We’re trying to maintain interest in destinations through human interest stories and feel-good pieces about the area. Again, digital content is immediate, so we can’t get readers excited about a destination when it’s closed. We have to put health and safety first, but at the same time, we want to keep Southern destinations top of mind for readers who are no doubt dreaming of the time when they can travel again. For obvious reasons, we aren’t covering festivals and major events right now.

Karen Kirkpatrick (Georgia Trend): We run a Trendsetters column every month about a small business that is doing something on the cutting edge, interesting, trendsetting. It’s harder to find those types of business than you might think.
We love learning about the cool things people are doing across the state. We are based in Atlanta, but are a statewide magazine. Pitches from outside Atlanta really catch our attention.
How far in advance are you working?

Karen Kirkpatrick (Georgia Trend): We work on editorial about 4 months out. But, we’ll begin planning the 2021 editorial calendar this summer and will start looking for story ideas for next year.

Valerie Luesse (Southern Living): We have to operate very differently right now. Our print lead time for Travel is a year because, under normal circumstances, we shoot in season. So we would normally be photographing spring 2021 stories right now. Because of COVID-19, we’ll be using more agency images than normal in our print stories. But we’re still planning a year out. All that to say, if you’re pitching print stories now, you should be focusing on summer and fall 2021.
Digital stories are different. We plan those out sometimes day to day, based on what’s trending with our readers. Please visit our Facebook page to see all the original content our digital team is generating and get a feel for the kinds of stories that are resonating right now.

What type of photography/video are you interested in now?

Karen Kirkpatrick (Georgia Trend): Before the quarantine period, we generally would shoot our own photos for the magazine. We also include photography on the blog. Our favorite blog pitches come with photos. And while we run a lot of grip-and-grins, those aren’t our favorites. A photo that shows action or the beauty of the state or a new product. Also, we ask for info for a cutline — all people who are recognizable need to be identified, with name/title; info about what a person/people are doing; where they are.

Valerie Luesse (Southern Living): The warm-fuzzy images; neighbors helping neighbors; chefs, hotels, etc., who are giving back; humor; and baby critters😊 Readers love to see newborn animals at zoos, aquariums, etc. For video, we need B-roll. Our digital team prefers raw material to create their own videos; we can’t really run a scripted/narrated promotional piece.

Feel free to reach out to us with any of your PR, social or digital questions. Email us here.

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