In the hot seat:
Tom Robbins: Travel Editor at the Financial Times
- 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
- 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
- An opening
- 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.