This week I sent out two successive Travmedia requests for — what else? — list articles in The Times. Both went out on Tuesday morning and had a deadline of 11am, Wednesday morning; in both, I was clear that replying quickly increased your chances. That’s because I read the pitches chronologically until I have every slot in my piece filled.
In this case, the last successful pitch arrived at precisely 8.23 on Wednesday morning; all the rest arrived on Tuesday night, barely hours after the alerts had gone out. It’s fiercely competitive out there – a bit scary, if wonderful for travel journalists like me.
Filing on Tuesday didn’t guarantee inclusion, especially not if you were pitching for the hotly contested Cornwall slot and someone else had already nabbed it, and definitely not if you didn’t follow my strict criteria (on the beach, not on the sea!). But filing later pretty much killed off your chances.
I feel guilty because this seems to favour the big agencies who have staff to spare. There’s also a luck element: if Tuesday was your day off, or full of meetings, are you just supposed to take it on the chin? Maybe. Ultimately, no fairer system comes to my mind, so I think this is how it must be. Surely this system is better than me just selectively reading emails from certain favourite PRs and not others (which I reckon some other journalists do).
All that being said, what can you do? What takeaways can I offer besides “drop everything for me”? I think it pays to have stuff pre-written where feasible; it also helps if you really know your clients’ products, and where you can access applicable material quickly — be it via a search criteria or through a reliable contact there. The more seamless this process is, the better your chances of being speedy.
Hopefully that is all constructive.
What Richard thinks…
“Chloe wins the weekly award for being clever: if there are 3 new trips, all you need to do is say so and summarise them. Nothing more, nothing less. This is textbook stuff.”