“A whole new world. A new fantastic point of view.” These lyrics are apt when describing Lonely Planet Asia, a renowned magazine offering readers insights on the histories and cultures of countries across the globe, as well as stunning photography, recommendations and travel advice. The magazine’s main goal is to inspire readers to explore new destinations and look at familiar ones through fresh eyes. Its feature stories cover countries ranging from Asia-Pacific, Africa and Middle east, to Europe and the Americas.
Published by Regent Media, a publishing house in Singapore, the print magazine is headed by Associate Editor Raewyn Koh who helps to produce and edit regionally-focused columns like Globetrotter, Easy Trips, City at a Glance and Extraordinary Places to Stay. Her other responsibilities include writing for Golf Asia and escape!, two other publications under Regent Media, as well as carrying out custom publishing for clients such as Singapore Airlines and Dynasty Travel.
Per Raewyn, Lonely Planet Asia rarely takes pitched stories that cover survey results or contain listicles. Story pitches on events, airline, hotel or cruise news, and tourism/itinerary ideas are more than welcome. If you happen to have a story that suits their editorial needs, here are some things you should know before reaching out to the magazine.
Manage expectations, do not always expect immediate coverage
“As much as possible, we do try to pick events that we would want to cover. However, certain circumstances may arise such as information coming in too late, the editor having to cut pages from the magazine due to the lack of space or the editorial team realising that the event is not as relevant after attending it. Please understand that calls have to be made about it,” explained Raewyn.
Know the story/product/familiarisation (FAM) trips you are pitching at the back of your hand
When PR professionals pitch any story, and even FAM trips, they should be clear of what their client expects from coverage and what the story/product/trip entails. Raewyn related a negative experience during a FAM trips last year where the PR agency could not provide them with basic details, such as an itinerary.
She said, “The itinerary was only sent just before we boarded and we only knew of it when one of the other journalists was checking his inbox. Even then, the itinerary was changed multiple times over the next few days. We were also wrongly informed of certain details, such as what meals and drinks were covered, etc., which really dampened the mood of many of the journalists.”
“As a representative of a brand, I believe it is important to know at least basic information on what you are pitching. It’s fine if certain questions from journalists cannot be answered, especially if a client isn’t willing to divulge certain information (such as secret ingredients, comments on negative public feedback, etc.) but giving wrong information is a big no-no.”
Take note of editorial deadlines
The magazine closes on the 24th of every month and PR professionals are advised to pitch any stories at least one-and-a-half months before the launch of any event.
“Unfortunately, plenty of information comes in really late and I would not be able to include the event listing in the upcoming edition. Closing is usually a month and a half before any event comes out, so for example, by the end of April I’ll be looking out for things to cover in our June edition,” said Raewyn.
Know who you are pitching and the stories they write
While this might be common knowledge, many media professionals like Raewyn are still receiving generic or irrelevant email pitches. “Even if you don’t know the editor personally, you should at least know what the magazine is about. There are certain types of stories that have never appeared in Lonely Planet Asia and having calls on such pitches can be frustrating,” Raewyn said. “Listicles, for example, are one of those stories. We can write on one of the points but we are unlikely to publish a full list in Lonely Planet Asia.”
According to PR Newswire’s 2016 Asia-Pacific Journalist Survey Report, 38 per cent of media professionals surveyed will ignore an email or cease communication under one of these circumstances: It is irrelevant to their industry, it does not capture their interest or it does not contain useful information. This serves as a reminder to PR professionals to not only familiarise themselves with the journalist’s beat, but also build real relationships with the media to better understand their working habits and editorial needs.
Raewyn also advises PR professionals to be familiar with the publications produced by Regent Media – Lonely Planet Asia, BBC Earth, Golf Asia and escape! – and find out which editor or writer oversees them.
“One of the problems I had last year was when someone called the office asking for Lonely Planet Asia and then five minutes later called again asking for escape!. The person was trying to pitch a story idea to these two publications but had no idea I was the same person answering the phone,” Raewyn recounted. “Know which publishing house you are talking to, make sure to get the name of the editor or writer and know the magazines they are responsible for.”
Follow up, but not incessantly
Following up with a personalised message via the journalist’s preferred mode of communication, eg. Email, phone or social media, is a good way to reinforce your relevance. However, avoid calling immediately after sending the email.
Raewyn said, “I am fine with PR professionals follow up on emails because we do get hundreds of emails.”
Want more information on the working habits and editorial needs for the journalists in Asia-Pacific? Download PR Newswire’s 2016 Asia-Pacific Journalist Survey today.