Did you know that Metro’s Travel pages have a semi-regular new section called Inside Track – pithy, bullet-pointed summaries of a buzz-earning location? Or that The Independent is running a series called Home Towns, in which writers pen guides to their original stomping grounds? Did you know that The Daily Mail has run a recurrent travel trends article on Saturdays of late?
Keeping up to date with regular slots is something that both you and freelancers like myself should always be doing. Admittedly, it isn’t easy: not only is a lot of time required but, in these money-pressed times, it’s tough to justify splashing £200+ per month on all the weekend papers, say.
Difficult, then, but amply worthwhile. Be it from PRs or freelancers, the bulk of pitches received by travel editors are vaguely for “a feature” or “a round-up”. Pitches which target a particular, regular slot truly stand out – and even more so if the target is a recent arrival such as Inside Track or Home Towns. Try for one of those and, along with standing a much better chance, you’ll impress.
My tack – and thus my advice – is to select one or two choice target publications and make it your business to know them or their travel sections inside out. (As pet projects go, this is quite a fun one.) If you work at an agency, perhaps divvy up titles. Take your time: it’s only after scrutinising a section, website or magazine for a few successive issues, weeks or months that I’m able to be sure of its regular and semi-regular slots, and to develop a decent sense of the type of hook (or not!) being utilised in them.
It’s also worth making a note if a regular appears to have ceased or paused – simply to reduce the risk of looking like a chump. I once lazily pitched a piece for a recurring section, only to be patronisingly told it had been shelved two years ago. Not my finest hour…