By Emily Peters
Contributing Writer

Few independent travel professionals get juice out of their local media outlets, when in truth it’s still an excellent way to boost your visibility in your community. Just like attracting new clients, fostering relationships with the local media requires those dirty little word we all love to hate:

Time and effort.

Improving your travel professional-media relations can be key to unlocking a new level of clients previously unaware of your services—something no solo entrepreneur can afford to ignore. Read on.

First of all, do you read your local outlets?

Even big cities like Los Angeles have loads of smaller outlets broken down by city and even neighborhood. Familiarize yourself with the most popular papers in your area, and don’t forget to look into local bloggers, e-newsletters and social media influencer accounts on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter dedicated to spotlighting what’s hip and happening in your community.

Scrounge for contributing writers, photographers and managing editors contact info.

Just as you have pulled together a prospect list for your clients, build one for your media contacts. As you become more aware of who’s who around town, gather their first/last names, email, phone and website and store in your CRM. Start with the staff lists on their sites and go from there.

Identify what’s newsworthy about you.

As you read and watch what’s getting press around town, you’ll begin to develop a sense of what your media outlets prefer to publish. Take that insight and apply it to your own travel company. What’s new with your business that may relate community events or concerns? What talks or services can you offer that tie travel in with other events, businesses, organizations, charitable efforts, viral social media movements, political concerns, etc. around your town?

To be newsworthy, you have to be relevant. Identify at least 3 existing or potential developments that could interest your media contacts to share with your community.

Know how to submit (and write) a press release.

MTravel has an entire training session (and a recent blog post) devoted to the power of writing press releases because, even though it’s 2018, there’s no simpler manner of distributing agency updates than this (not even blogging!). Once you’ve identified a few newsworthy topics about your travel agency, get it down in print by writing a press release to share the news.

But don’t stop there—make sure you understand each of your media contacts’ preferred method of press release submission. Do they want pictures? Do they have a word limit? Do they have a general inbox or a specific email to send to? Do they have a weekly submission deadline?

Each outlet can be different, so don’t just shoot the article out into the ether hoping someone will respond. Follow their rules, customize your send and you’ll likely see a much higher rate of return when they pick up your stuff.

Be personal.

Once your contact list has been established and you’ve got your press release ready to go, follow up with personalized emails to your writers/photographers/editors to introduce yourself and your business. Open the door to communication—there may be opportunities for you to pitch travel-related stories that would be useful for their audience. It will require work and writing on your part and no cash for your trouble, but can strengthen ties between you and the media.

Like, subscribe to, comment on and share their content.

Smaller, savvy media outlets are always looking to expand their readership and social media following. Follow all of your favorite outlets and engage with their content. Scratch their back regularly and, ultimately, you may find them scratching yours.

Media relations, like any professional relationship, develop only with ongoing effort.

If you want to be able to grow your client list rather than return to the same small pool again and again, work on strengthening those relations in 2018. Good selling!

Are you ready to start your independent travel business with MTravel? We are here to help! Contact us here or call us at 800-870-5799. Be sure to check out our website at www.MTravel.com and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.