Top Tips from Simon Usborne, Travel Feature Writer and Reporter


In the hot seat:

  • Simon Usborne
    Feature Writer and Reporter, Financial Times, The Guardian, Independent

Simon's Focus:

  • Simon Usborne is a general freelance feature writer. 30% of his output is travel writing and the other 70%, general features
  • Simon writes 12 stories a year for the Financial Times – commissioned by Tom Robbins
    • The FT is the only National broadsheet Simon writes for (contractual agreement)
    • ¾ of the stories for the FT come from Tom, the other ¼ are from Simon
  • Other outlets Simon writes for are The Guardian, National Geographic, Mr Porter and BA Highlife
  • Let Simon decide which publication a story would fit best in, PRs just need to feed him the story

Top Tips:

  • Title and 1 paragraph is enough for a press release
  • Simon is always looking for a spark that then leads into the real story – provide a strong narrative
  • History of buildings is important for Simon and he prefers hearing about this to thinks like pillows and thread count in a duvet
  • Advises PRs to think of different papers needs when pitching a story
  • The FT are interested in real, in depth stories – help Simon find the meaning behind the story
  • For National Geographic Simon mainly writes reports – eg Bear conservation in Italy
  • For Mr Porter the stories are mainly round ups eg 7 of the nicest beach resorts in Spain
  • Likes meeting PRs for coffee but prefers an email in the first instance
    • Works from home so has to think logistically about meeting up – a lot of time out of his day
    • Personal approach and relationship building are important for Simon
  • Simon says client events can be of use but need to make sure the speeches are brief, informative and entertaining
    • Does go to evening events but has to be something he envisages writing about
  • Simon recommends always including people within a story, believes people remember the people in a story as they are always the most interesting element

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