Top tips for Travel PRs from Tom Robbins, Travel Editor at the Financial Times


In the hot seat:

  • Tom Robbins
    Travel Editor at the Financial Times

Tom's Week:

  • Loves the Lake District, mountains and the wilderness.
  • Rarely able to meet PRs. Prefers a phone call, or email with lots of stories (five, approx).
  • If the story is strong, Tom will get back. Don’t chase the same day.

The Financial Times:

  • Travel is within the lifestyle section on a Sunday.
    • After style features, before arts features.
  • Tends to be two longer features and one shorter. 1500-1800-words
  • Types of stories that run:
    • An opening
      • New hotel, spa, tour operator, flight route, new gallery etc. Has to be something different
    • Trends
      • Three others of the same thing in the same area. More than one person doing it. Stats and figures are important for this type of feature.
    • Undiscovered gem
    • Personal feature - a story with an interesting background. Hotel started by an arctic explorer etc.
    • Anniversary - weakest one. Has to be a good story related to an anniversary, not just anniversary itself.
    • Destination piece
      • Off grid luxury, people escaping
      • A new way of doing an established destination
  • The Wall Street Journal and The New York Times are travel sections main competitors.
  • Exclusives: with really big new openings the FT would prefer the exclusive to run a couple of weeks before coverage elsewhere.
  • A Postcard From section requires travel.
  • Audience: 30% UK, 30% US, 30% Europe, 10% China.
    • You need to keep the international audience in mind when pitching. Stories have to appeal to all nationalities. Also means both long and short-haul travle are on the table.
  • Weekly Life and Arts meeting on a Thursday - relates to production, not ideas.
  • Lead times vary, ski features are often commissioned a year in advance.
  • Travel features are read 55% on mobile, 45% on desktop.
  • Business travel column in the paper every other week, Business Traveller.

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