get free press for your business

10 Ways Travel Agents Can Take to Score Free Press

You can’t tell me that the tagline….” AS SEEN ON TV” doesn’t make you want to buy. It’s hard not to be a sucker for a mandolin that doubles as a bangs shortener, but add AS SEEN ON TV…and my credit card is out like a gay man on Pride. I’m hooked.

Why? You probably guessed it. As seen on TV offers “authority” to any product. Not just any ol’ thing can be “As seen on TV” so in the back of our minds, we are thinkin’ …this HAS to be good.

And guess what? The same logic can work for you and your travel business. Just imagine it…your name, alongside the words…”As featured in Conde Nast Traveler or Travel + Leisure or even as a guest writer for the New York Times travel section?

OR….maybe some baby steps are in order….as featured in Gazette.

Talk about getting street cred.

The point is… one of the best ways to show that you’re an authority in your travel niche is to be a guest contributor in a publication. Alternatively, consider a guest appearance on a reputable (and relevant) podcast or blogger’s website. 

And before you start thinkin’…oh, I could never do that! Where would I even start? Well, that’s where I come in. I’ve got you covered. Here are 9 things you can do today to start you on a journey that will cost you virtually nothing and garner big results.

1. Design your hit list, journalists, editors, podcasters, fellow bloggers

This is something you can start working on today. Sure, a feature in National Geographic Traveler might be a stretch but the good news is there are so many publications that may serve you better. I’m probably more likely to reach out to an advisor who is featured in a reputable, yet small, publication than I am to contact some writer for the Toronto Star.

Think of publications or podcasts or fellow bloggers that your target audience reads or listens to. Let’s say you are a travel advisor in rural Ontario and most of your clients are farmers, Wouldn’t it be great to get a feature in Better Farming?

Or let’s say your target audience is young moms because you specialize in family getaways. What about reaching out to The Boss Mom podcast and suggesting an episode on Top things to know when travelling with children?

If you are still not sure, just ask. Pick up the phone. Call a few of your clients and ask them what they read/listen to.

Whatever you decide, make a list of at least 20. Find out who the editor is – a LinkedIn search often does the trick. And then start to build a relationship with that person. You might be surprised by how open they are to hearing from you. 

get free press for your business

2. Create a press kit

Next up, build yourself a press kit. Inside, you’ll want:

  1. A professional headshot
  2. Well-written and catchy bio
  3. A selection of top-performing blog posts
  4. FAQs relating to your business

Note: You probably don’t want to send the press kit in the initial pitch. But you’ll want to have it ready to go. And sending press kits as attachments through email is generally frowned on too, so better yet, feature your press kit on your website and then offer a link.

3. Decide on your hook

Think like an editor. What is their job? Getting people to buy, read or listen. So you’ll want to think of an angle that would be a good hook…something that is trending at the moment. 

Don’t be afraid to take a controversial approach for fear you won’t get picked up. Again, safe doesn’t usually sell. Let’s say you are a cruise specialist…you might want to go with…

“Find out the top 10 hidden dangers that cruise companies don’t want you to know about.”

(and how to avoid them and have the best holiday every) This industry insider spills the tea.

4. Keep it short

Everyone is busy. No one has time to read War and Peace so keep your story idea short and punchy. Your goal with the pitch is to tickle their interest enough to agree to take a call from you.

End your pitch with a clear call to action. Not with the loosey-goosey…”Hope to hear from you soon,” drivel so many others opt for. Be strong. Be bold. Tell them where to find your press kit and give them a timeline to reach out in addition to a date that you will follow up if you haven’t heard back. 

5. Customize

“To whom it may concern” never worked in cover letters for job applications. It’s not going to work for pitching either. Take the time to learn a little bit about your intended audience and work that into your pitch. A little bit of flattery goes a long way. Yeah sure..they might be skeptical of your motivations but there will be a little nugget inside that will puff their chest out. 

My rule always was…if someone took the time to look up my name, I took the time to respond.

score free press for your business

6. WIIFM (What’s in it for me)

The old WIIFM works in any scenario. It belongs on page one of any book on the art of negotiation. Always frame your pitch in a way that clearly outlines the benefits of your article. Everybody wants more eyeballs so pitch your story in a way that eyeballs are the obvious outcome.

It definitely helps if you already have a decent following on your social media channels. It’s not essential for success but if you can say, I’ll be promoting my appearance to my audience as well..this offers up a joint benefit that will be hard to resist.

And remember…

You might be surprised at how many news outlets are looking for content ideas, too. Ugh! 😫  We aren’t the only ones who suffer from content creation woes. 

7. Do one follow-up

Always follow-up. Just as our clients get busy…so do magazine editors. It’s worth your while to follow up but never pester. If you don’t hear back from your target…just assume it wasn’t the right time, not that it was a ‘no.” You can always try again in a few months. 

But definitely follow-up at least once. 

8. Promote your appearance

And if you are lucky enough to score a gig….

Not only do you want to promote your appearance prior to going live but then…once your article is published or the podcast has aired…be sure to leverage your appearance. Add it to your LinkedIn bio. Put it in your weekly email and then in your signature. You are famous! Be loud and proud about it.

And most definitely, run a banner on your home page of your website gently reminding visitors of all the places you’ve been featured. Something like this:

score free press for your business

9. Enroll as a source on HARO – (Help a Reporter Out)

HARO is a website where reporters will post stories they are working on that requires expert input. Nice to know that even the pros struggle with content! 

Subscribing to HARO is free if you don’t mind weeding through all the options. But there is a dedicated travel section. Of course, there is no guarantee your input will be chosen but you’ll also get an idea of what articles are trending.

score free press for your business

10. A token of appreciation goes a long way

The final step, which will come instinctively as a travel advisor – send a thank you. Even a small gift to convey your appreciation for the opportunity. It just makes you oh, that much more memorable. Podcasters and journalists run in their own groups. I hear they share sources…and it’s good to be remembered.

Give it a shot…

It’s easier than you probably think and let me know how it goes.

Diane

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