5 Takeaways from the Travel and Words Conference

Spud Hilton from the San Francisco Chronicle speaking at the Travel and Words Conference in Yakima.

By Maggy Lehmicke

On behalf of PARSONS + CO and the Wenatchee Valley Chamber of Commerce, I was lucky enough to attend the Travel and Words Conference in Yakima last month. Below are my key takeaways from the two-day event:

1. The press release is not dead.

Subject to much debate, the press release is actually not dead. According to some of the region’s top travel editors, they still often use press releases as a resource for generating new stories. The key is in the content. Who are you trying to reach? What message are you trying to convey? Every press release must have a story worth telling, and the less work that editors have to do with your release, the more likely they are to use it.

2. When it comes to pitching, make sure you know what each outlet covers.

A travel magazine focused on experiential, narrative pieces isn’t any more likely to write a product review than Martha Stewart Living is to run an article on the Indy 500. When you’re sending a targeted pitch, make sure you’re familiar with the different categories and sections within a publication. If you’re pitching a travel product, pay attention to the blogs that publish product reviews and the magazines that have gear editors.

3. Every story needs a specific angle.

An event announcement alone is not an angle. When you’re building pitches, make sure that you’ve thought through your specific angle in advance. Think about your niche and why your idea is relevant. For example, a list of the Northwest’s top distilleries is a story that has probably been done before, but what about a roundup of the women behind Northwest’s whiskey distilleries? Not only does the female-owned angle make it more newsworthy, but it also targets a specific niche.

4. Engagement matters more than followers.

Forming a partnership with an Instagram influencer will only benefit you if they have a loyal following. Note that I said loyal – not large. That’s because the number of followers doesn’t matter if the audience isn’t consuming the content. Engagement not only influences the visibility of your content, but it also gauges how well the content resonates with a specific audience.

5. Know your target audience.

While getting an article published in O, The Oprah Magazine may be a dream for some, it’s not going to do much good if your primary target audience is millennials. Knowing your target audience gives you clarity on where you should be pitching and how you should be engaging. For example, millennial-oriented brands are much more likely to be active on Instagram and Twitter than their boomer-focused counterparts.


So what’s the moral of the story? Do your homework first. Take the time to develop strong story angles, read articles written by the people you’re pitching and research what your audience is reading. The extra time it takes will pay off in the long run!

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