Media Pitching Tips in a COVID-19 World from Gaya Travel Magazine’s Editor-in-Chief
Travel demand is on route to increase in the Asia-Pacific region in the coming months. Domestic travel in markets, such as Malaysia and Vietnam, is seeing an uptick, while more international travel bubbles are being established in between cities in the region.
As the state of travel resumes, the media’s appetite for travel news and stories is growing as the focus is shifted to local tours and staycations.
PR Newswire chats with Juhan Kamaruddin, the Editor-in-Chief and co-founder of Gaya Travel Magazine, a Malaysia-based publication that reports on the travel and tourism sector, as part of PR Newswire’s COVID-19 Travel Industry Recovery Toolkit.
On gaining media coverage, Juhan emphasized on the importance of PR reps establishing a long-term relationship with the media. One way is through media monitoring, which tracks recent articles by journalists, their key areas of reporting and their recent social media activity. With such valuable information, it is easier to engage journalists and provide information or potential interview sources that add value to their work.
The veteran travel journalist shares more tips and advice on pitching travel-related news to him in this interview.
How do you prefer to receive press materials?
I prefer to receive materials via email or file-sharing, for example, WeTransfer, for speedy editing and publishing.
What is your advice for PR professionals who are trying to pitch you?
Gaya Travel Magazine mainly targets Malaysia-, Singapore- and Brunei-based English-speaking urban professionals between 24 and 65 years old, with a slant towards Halal travel. Though the magazine mainly targets consumers, it also covers selected travel trade fairs such as World Travel Mart and ASEAN Tourism Forum (ATF) Travel Exchange. Therefore, PR professionals that cater to our audience are welcomed to approach us.
We ultimately seek win-win collaborations and long-term relationships with PR professionals. Ideally, we prefer to collaborate and maintain close relationships with those who understand that Gaya Travel is also a business entity that is driven by revenue, and looks at monetary and non-monetary value (for example familiarization trips and stays) as it strives to increase its audience and client base.
Do you have any pet peeves when working with PR professionals?
That PR practitioners assume that just because they email us their press releases, the media is obliged to publish them. Some PR practitioners neither take the initiative nor demonstrate the desire to establish a long-term relationship with the media whom they are counting on to get their stories published.
What is the most challenging aspect of covering the travel industry?
The threats that surround the industry include natural disasters, climate change, geopolitical tensions, and unforeseen events like the COVID-19 pandemic create more uncertainty and dent people’s desire to travel. As such, accurately predicting the up-and-coming destinations that are devoid of risks becomes tricky.
What upcoming launches/events/updates are you most excited about?
We will likely gravitate towards travel- and tourism-related launches that emphasize on sustainability and address climate change, cultural / heritage conservation, and social responsibility, particularly those in South-east Asia. Places such as Sukau Rainforest Lodge in Sabah and Warung Bumi by Bumi Langit Institute in Yogyakarta deserve our coverage.
What are some travel trends that you foresee for 2020?
People seeking more hidden gems closer to home, for example, residents of Klang Valley wanting to discover more places or attractions within Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, and Selangor, or the rest of Malaysia.
Value-for-money / budget-friendly local experiences that are memorable, enriching, educational and can contribute to the local economy, for example staying with rural communities or indigenous tribes.
Travelers nowadays approach their travelling with purpose. More of them are interested to join activities like cleaning up beaches, coasts and underwater environments. In light of COVID-19, many governments have advised postponing non-essential travel.
What advice do you have for PR professionals during this period?
It would be great if PR professionals can work more closely with their marketing and sales counterparts to target their communications to the domestic market, or markets not affected by COVID-19. In Malaysia’s case, the travel industry has been quick to respond by pivoting to markets such as West, Central and South Asia, including ASEAN.
Download the COVID-19 Travel Recovery Toolkit to chart out your comms plan and get travel media pitching tips with this toolkit that is tailored for PR pros in the travel and tourism industry.