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How to build relationships with PRs

By June 14, 2024 No Comments

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When you think about travel writing, most of us think about the destinations we want to go to, the experiences we want to have and how we might sell these ideas to editors. But there’s one very important factor in the equation that leads to a long and fruitful career in travel writing – your relationship with public relations personnel (PRs).

Quite simply, PRs are some of the most important people you need to connect with (and stay connected with) if you want to become a successful travel writer.

The good news is that PRs in the travel industry are usually very happy to meet and speak with travel writers. To make initial connections with PRs contact your local tourism bureau (for example if you live in Sydney it will be Destination NSW, or if you live in Portland it will be Travel Oregon). The title of the person you reach out to may vary from organisation to organisation, such as: ‘media and marketing’ or ‘global sales’ or ‘PR specialist’, but essentially their roles will be similar.

Developing a relationship with PRs takes time, but if you focus on building and maintaining your relationship, it’s a connection that will be long lasting and will take you many places (literally!)

And remember, the PR world is a small one and word travels fast. If you are a reliable, courteous and engaged freelance writer who regularly delivers quality content, you’ll be in demand.

Getting invited on your first familiarisation trip

From the outside, it can seem like there is a magic formula to getting invited on a fam or press trip.

There are two kinds of fams – one is group fams that you do with other media personnel like journalists and editors, and one where you travel individually and you seek support or sponsorship from tourism bodies, PRs, individual operators and hotels yourself.  

Generally speaking, you’ll need to have a few bylines under your belt before you can get sponsorship or hosted travel because at the end of the day, it’s expensive for tourism bureaus, PR agencies or brands to cover the costs of airfares, accommodation, experiences and food for writers, and they want to make sure you can deliver an excellent return on their investment.

If you’re nearby, ask to meet up for a coffee to learn more about their destination, products and experiences and their current focus (e.g. some will have key experiences or destinations they want to highlight in the coming 12 months).

Online hubs like TravMedia are a great place to connect with PRs and to register for events like IMM (International Media Marketplace) – a single-day networking event where people in the media, such as travel writers, editors and bloggers, meet travel and tourism brands and PRs in 22 x 15 minute one-on-one appointments. 

It’s always a bonus if you are a member of your national travel writing association, as this shows PRs that you are a legitimate travel writing professional, so always aim to fulfil the membership requirements as soon as you can. 

Once you have developed a relationship with a PR, it’s definitely worth asking to be put on their media list to receive press releases, but more than that, let them know which publications you write for so that they can consider you for upcoming group fam trips/press trips.

Often the best way to get your first individual fam is to link it into a place where you are already going. For example, if you are travelling to Portland for a family holiday, and there’s a bunch of new vegan eateries that have opened in the last 3 months, see whether an editor is interested and if they are, then approach the city’s tourism board to see if they would host you at some or all of the eateries.

Working while on the road

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