Canada’s Media Marketplace an opportunity to tell our story

Every year at this time I write about Canada’s Media Marketplace, an annual Canadian Tourism Commission event placing representatives from Canadian tourism destinations before the best of the travel writers working in the United States.

Every year at this time I write about Canada’s Media Marketplace, an annual Canadian Tourism Commission event placing representatives from Canadian tourism destinations before the best of the travel writers working in the United States.

This time I thought that I’d write about a few of the specific travel writers that we’ll be meeting this year.

I’ve been trying to meet with Peter Potterfield for several years, and have an appointment with him at this year’s Marketplace. Peter is a perfect fit for Northwestern BC. He’s the editor of GreatOutdoors.com, the premier online adventure site, and the author of a dozen books about adventure. His work has appeared in such top-flight magazines as Conde Nast Traveler, Outside, Reader’s Diges, Backpacker and Men’s Journal. He’s now working on his latest book, Classic Hikes of North America.

I’ve met informally with David Handschuh, staff writer and photographer for the <I>New York Daily News<I>, but this year we have a formal appointment. David specializes in adventure stories for middle class readers, and we offer unique soft adventure opportunities that should appeal to his readers.

Sometimes it takes more than one meeting before a writer has found the perfect reason to visit Prince Rupert. Readers of this column have met Spud Hilton before, particularly in regards to his approach to using social media to inform the traveling public about new experiences. Spud is the travel editor at the San Francisco Chronicle, and we’ve talked before about him assigning a story about Prince Rupert or coming to write one himself. This year we’re discussing a very specific itinerary which we hope will appeal to him.

Of course, these are just a couple of examples. There are literally dozens more who will learn about Prince Rupert at Media Marketplace. Montreal-based Margo Pfeiff, whose work appears in major US dailies as well as major Canadian newspapers and magazines, hasn’t been in the Northwest for a couple of years. Crai Bower is making a trip this summer. Crai writes regular columns for WashingtonTimes.com and HuffingtonPost.com, is a radio travel commentator, and writes for magazines such as Alaska Airlines, Journey and Up. Anne Cooke and her partner Steve Haggerty first visited Prince Rupert in 2004, and have been spinning tales about the virtues of the Northwest Coast in major dailies across the United States ever since.

At Media Marketplace we use a “flat sheet” to hand out to travel writers. This is essentially an annual newsletter that has information about what is new here, but written to suggest story angles that will prompt the media to write about us immediately. The flat sheet can quickly determine what timely story ideas intrigue a writer, and in the short time available allow us to quickly make a creative, individualized pitch.

But we don’t rely solely on this one-size-fits-all approach. When we meet with a journalist at Media Marketplace, we’ve done our research. To use Peter Potterfield as an example, we’ve researched his publication history, read some of his writing, and crafted specific Prince Rupert story ideas that might intrigue him enough to make a visit.

That hook is vital – not just in that it will provide the writer with his story lede, but also because it sells the writer. If a well-researched story idea strikes home you have sold a story, and can move the conversation into the logistics of a visit to Prince Rupert. You set the hook, and you reel them in.

We are competing with Canadian partners from St. John’s to Victoria, and travel writers have limited time each year to visit new destinations. Fortunately, we’re selling a place that is almost irresistibly exotic to readers in US cities.