How exactly do you say, “Sooooo I have this blog, you have a festival and I want to attend – want to swap blogging for free passes?” I was stumped. I got the courage to ask a fellow blogger, and I trialed and errored it and this is the email I settled upon to successfully got comped ski passes, festival passes, accommodations and more).
Subject line: Media Inquiry
I am the founder of The Delicious Day, a blog focusing on Colorado, travel and life. Much of what I write about are the best things to do in Denver and throughout Colorado. Some of my recent pieces include:
- The 20 Most Unique Beers at the Great American Beer Festival
- Best Things to Do in Denver #5
- 12 Colorado Ski Resorts that Don’t Require I-70
- 7 Reasons to Go to La Veta, Colorado Right Now
- 14 Lists Where Denver Ranks in the Top 10
- The Best City in the US
I would love to cover <Insert name of show / festival / passes desired> in an upcoming piece and throughout social media outlets. Would there happen to be any <performance media passes / festival passes / lift tickets> available?
Also, if it is of interest to you, The Delicious Day’s traffic and visitor statistics from January 1, 2013 – June 30, 2013 are as follows:
- 135, 724 Visitors (an average of 22,620 per month) with the breakdown being:
- 107,334 from the US, 5,339 from the UK, 2,874 from Canada
- 304,215 Page Views
- 40% of US visitors are from Colorado, 10% from California, 5% from Texas and the remainder from other US States
- Audience is primarily female ages 25-44
Thank you, <NAME>. Enjoy your day.
A few tips:
1.The email subject line is critical
I have never had my subject line, albeit a request for an interview or a free festival pass anything other than “Media Inquiry”.
2. Keep the email short
Provide all the necessary details – what you want, what your blog is about, recent pieces you wrote which would be applicable to them (obviously highlight the most shared posts), what you will offer in exchange for what you want, high level traffic and social media information and your contact information. If they have more questions they will ask but you have to pique their interest to get them to the asking – and the best way to do that is to respect their time by erring on the side of brevity.
3. Do what you say you are going to do (aka this is free but it isn’t a free ride)
If you said you would share your experience on social media – do it. If you said you would blog about it – do it. If you said you were going to share your experience on social media and blog about it three times – do that. If you do not show integrity in this process – it will not last long.
4. Be honest in your review
You will grow your blog’s audience if people believe you to be an authentic and honest source of information. If you go to a restaurant and the food blows but the drinks are incredible – write about the to-die-for drinks and recommend other places to dine. If the hotel room is a bit – eh – make sure you accurately describe who such a place is and is not for.
5. You will be surprised at how many places are willing to host you
We have received invitations to stay in hotels and at resorts that are some of the finest (literally) in the world. If you are a smaller blogger, you will likely have the best luck with independent, non-chain, places. Don’t be afraid to ask.
6. Make sure you are asking the right person
On almost all websites there will be a “Media” or “Press” area with an email address of a specific person to contact – contact this person – by name. This will get you much farther than sending an email to a general “info” email address.
7. For your best chance consider off-season or shoulder season
If you are the New York Times, you can likely request ski-passes and 5-Star accommodations during Christmas break (although the NY Times Travel folks claim they never accept comped travel arrangements). If you are anyone else, your best bet is going to be to go at a time that is not the peak season.
8. Know everyone is likely to give you something
For a relatively small blog, I probably have about a 70 – 80% success rate with a close version of the email above. Yes, there are times where they are not willing to give us a weekend of ski passes, but they will give one day. Or they can’t host us in the winter but they would be happy to in the summer. If they say they can’t help you when you asked, don’t be afraid to politely ask for a discount, a smaller form of the original ask or for a different time of the year. They will likely offer it up without you needing to inquire any further.
9. Comped travel makes travel work and sometimes work is not so fun
For a short while, we had a bit of a run at enjoying and writing about comped travel – but then I realized although it is travel – it is also work. A lot of work. At every restaurant, hotel, festival and ski run I found myself thinking, “I need to stop and get a photo. I should post about this experience on Facebook. I need to take notes so I can remember to write about this later. We should stop off at a few more restaurants for appetizers so I have a better lay of the culinary land.” If truth be told – it is fun but it can be, and likely will be, a bit stressful. It is does not feel like a vacation but more of a working holiday.
10. For maximum shares and views write about many places you visited in one general area
Smaller bloggers struggle with maximizing page views. The best way I have found to achieve this is to:
a) when I write about a place I visit I write about the hotels, restaurants, sites, etc all in one post
b) when I complete the post I go to each of the individual hotels, bars, restaurants, etc I wrote about and post it on their Facebook page (if they don’t have a Facebook page I send them an email or tag them in a Tweet). As most places, love the recognition they typically then share it out with their networks. This way you have multiple social networks sharing your post. The more shares you get, the better examples of the value of your writing you will have the next time you write to another location about comped travel / arrangements – the more likely you will be able to do this again. A few examples of how these posts with multiple area recommendations look:
P.S. Don’t forget to share your work with the local and state tourist boards. As an example of what to post on their Facebook page, try “<XYZ Place> recognized in this article as one of the best things to do in <XYZ City>. And of course, Like, their page while you are at it.
P.P.S After a day or so of getting Likes, Shares, Tweets and Pins, I then share the article with the media / PR person who hosted me. Them seeing it is getting Liked and Shared certainly makes them feel their decision to host you was a smart one and only further, in my opinion at least, ensures they will share it with their audience as well.
11. Consider writing about them first to make the initial connection / introduction
I knew I wanted to form stronger connections with the Colorado Ski Resorts media teams and there are few better ways to be seen favorably in the eyes of PR folks than to make their jobs easier – i.e. write about them. I wrote a post about a topic that is the thorn in the side of all skiers and snowboarders in Colorado – how to get to enjoy the resorts in the winter while avoiding the mind numbing gridlock of weekend ski traffic. I wrote a post: 14 Colorado Ski Resorts that Don’t Require I-70. Within it I wrote about how to get to the resorts without I-70 brain damage, where to stay, insider tips and the respective mountain’s claim to fame – and to get all this information – I had to contact the media representatives at each of the respective resorts. They were, of course, happy to give me information and they were even happier when I sent them a link to the article after it was shared over 400 times. This approached allowed me to introduce myself by not asking for anything but information so I could tell the world why everyone should be visiting them – and the next time I contacted (for a ski pass or accommodations for example) – they not only knew who I was but knew I followed through, how I wrote about them and that I could get content about them spread out in the world.
12. Be humble and grateful and always be honest