If we compare pitching a partnership to a pair of jeans, then you already know that when it comes to pitching yourself, there is no “One Size Fits All.” Even if there are sizes you can squeeze into, there is nothing better than a custom pair of pants – that are made especially for you.
So if you’re sending out the same generic email and media kit to everyone you want to work with – we’re begging you to stop. We’re not suggesting that you spend hours creating completely custom materials for every single pitch (because that would be a total time suck) but they should absolutely “speak” to who you’re pitching too.
The key to pitching is not really about what YOU want…it’s understanding what THEY want (brand, destination, tourism board) and being able to demonstrate how you will be able to make it happen for them.
Let’s start from the beginning…
Working With Brands: How to Reach Out to them.
If you’re on the hunt to work with travel brands, getting to the right person is half the battle. Yes, you may strike gold with a generic email address you find on their website but there is nothing like your pitch landing in the decision maker’s inbox right away.
While we don’t have psychic powers to help you find the brand’s direct contact in a split second, we do have some creative, “out of the box,” ideas to get you started:
1. Ask a fellow friend / influencer buddy for an introduction.
If you’re in any Facebook groups, comment pods or even have formed relationships with others on social media and have noticed them working with a brand you would like to approach – ask them if they’d be willing to make the intro. Then of course, make sure to thank them and pay it forward when you work with a new brand down the road. Remember, no one likes a mooch.
2. Sign up for SocialRank.
SocialRank is a great tool that lets you analyze your followers. What if a travel brand is already following you and you had no idea? It allows you to pitch to warm leads versus cold ones. We highly recommend this tool!
3. LinkedIn is your friend.
LinkedIn is where you may be able to find the exact name of the person working with your target brand, tourism board, hotel, etc. Once you get their name, you can play around and try to figure out their exact email address. For example – if on the brand website it lists a company email as:
NZadeh@brand.com – now you know that the company’s emails are most likely firstname.lastname@example.org. (We know, Nancy Drew would be proud!)
4. Pick up the phone and ask.
We know this is a totally obvious idea but it’s definitely not done enough. When you call, be prepared to be transferred directly to the person you’re looking to speak with because the company may just put you on the spot.
5. Industry events.
There are so many travel conferences and trade shows around the world where travel brand representatives go to mix and mingle so these events may be a great place to meet contacts in real life. There is nothing like that human connection and hitting it off with someone, right?! For example, at the New York Times Travel Show, tourism boards from all over the world come together in one room. How’s that for being productive! Note to self: BRING CARDS.
How to Pitch and Land Brand Partners.
Now that you have found your direct contact, the next step to seducing a prospective client or brand partner is doing your homework. If we use a tourism board as an example, you can easily visit the country’s website and see what exactly they are promoting and how that relates to your personal brand. Basically, you need to figure out how you can you help them promote their key messages and incorporate that into your pitch.
It’s like when you’re interviewing for a job and they ask, “why should I hire you” or “why would you be the best for the job?”
Pitching yourself to a brand, destination or tourism board is no different. Ultimately, it’s all about perfecting the pitch and convincing them why they should choose to work with you over anyone else!
Here’s an example of how to perfect your pitch:
Let’s take the Islands of the Bahamas as the target brand/destination for this example.
When you scroll half way through the tourism board’s website, you’ll see 6 big “buckets.” This leads us to believe that these topics are the country’s designated key messages/niches.
Photo courtesy of the www.bahamas.com.
As you can see, they are:
Kids & Family
You now know that the Bahamas promotes these 6 categories and you can highlight a certain topic (or more) in your pitch to them. This means including a special slide in your media kit or even mentioning the topics in your email.
Of course, don’t feel like you need to cover all topics listed. A lot of the time, PR professionals just need you to focus on one thing and do it well. So sometimes it may be better to show multiple examples of one niche (especially if you’re a beginner) instead of spreading yourself thin.
If this information isn’t readily available on the destination’s website then another idea is to call or email the PR agency on record and ask them directly for some of the key messages or categories the country actively promotes.
And if they can provide a fact sheet, even better! Once you have that information, you can really tweak your media kit and pitch to speak directly to what they are looking to achieve.
Just FYI, most countries hire Public Relations firms or professionals to handle their PR efforts so sometimes these agencies hold the keys to the castle, not necessarily the tourism board staff themselves. Also, tourism boards often have a PR firm per region. So for example, one PR firm could handle all of North American media (which includes bloggers) where as an agency in Europe can handle a totally different region of the world.
So if you’re Italian and speaking to the American PR agency and you don’t get selected for a press trip it may be because you’re not talking to the right person, not because you’re not good enough. Make sure to always ask which areas the agency represents and if they don’t cover your location, to please refer you to the agency that represents the specific geographical area where you are based.
Also, it’s good to keep in mind that sometimes landing a partnership means there was some luck involved. For example, let’s say that Tourism Board X is targeting the American cities of Houston, NYC, Chicago and San Francisco. If you are coming from one of these specific destinations then you may have more luck getting through because you’re based in the tourism board’s “target market.”
Tip: Make a note to ask the tourism board or PR firm you get in touch with if the city you are based in is a “feeder market” to their country.
Don’t forget to customize your pitch!
We totally understand that creating an epic media kit can take A LOT of time. We suggest putting in the upfront work to make an evergreen media kit with standard slides that include all the general information that any brand, destination or tourism board would want to know about you. We also think it’s a good idea to create another set of themed slides that you can add to your deck depending on who you are pitching to (i.e. hotel vs travel brand vs tourism board).
For example, if you are pitching to a hotel in Hawaii, it would be a great idea to include examples of your work in tropical destinations rather than in col