A type of media outlet PR agencies and professionals sometimes overlook is inflight magazines.
Last year, 815.3 million passengers traveled on domestic and foreign airlines serving the United States. It’s an unmatched, captive audience.
I recently participated in a webinar about pitching inflight magazines. The real-time interaction with editors was invaluable and allowed me to peg publishing trends that will lead to strategic pitches and placements. Below is a rundown of inflight pitching best practices from top editors. Keep in mind that these are extremely long lead targets. It is not unreasonable to start pitching 7-8 months in advance.
1. Focus on luxury.
Media strategists can put the recession angle to bed. No more “10 ways to save on your next vacation.” Although consumers are always looking for a great deal, luxury travel and unforgettable experiences are top of mind for inflight audiences.
2. Engage using social media.
Inflight editors love engagement. Don’t just read the latest Hemispheres
story, tap into its social network by sharing vine videos and photos. If you read a story you love, comment on it. Got a photo of your destination that is magazine worthy? Tweet it. Of course, don’t forget to follow and subscribe to social channels.
3. Offer In-depth ideas.
Travelers are looking for off-the-beaten-path experiences that inspire them to go on a trip of discovery. Pitch in-depth story ideas that make compelling long form reads. Quick tip lists are not right for inflight magazines.
4. Don’t forget PR 101.
Although these are steps every public relations professional should take daily, it doesn’t hurt to be reminded. First, find the right section for your story idea. Second, consider pitching a freelancer first. They have previously established relationships with editors and can help cut through the clutter. Lastly, PR is about relationships. You wouldn’t approach a stranger on the street and ask for a favor, so consider this when trying to achieve a placement. Relationships equal results.
Twitter accounts: @hemispheresmag
Airlines served: United, AirTran
• Infographics are welcome. They may not run them, but they are chock full of useful information for editors.
US Airways magazine
• Most inflight magazines have food and drink sections and product reviews. However, they don’t want tried and true pitches like non-Napa vineyards or another micro-brew scene. Pitch a truly innovative food piece.
• Editors are targeting the next generation front-of-the-planers (that is, those who will be sitting in first class in five years). When pitching a story, consider what an up-and-coming 30-something would want to know.
• Hemispheres has a “Bright Ideas” section, which is a good place for business and innovation stories.
• Editors are not interested in mass emails or story ideas that have been pitched to other outlets. They want upscale, intellectual content for curious readers. If The Wall Street Journal has covered it, don’t pitch it.
Twitter account: @UsAirwaysMag
Airline served: US Airways
• Although social engagement is key, editors at US Airways magazine aren’t too keen on pitches via social outlets. Use social media to get to know the magazine, its direction and to engage on a higher level, then contact the editor directly.
• Stay away from topics like death, taxes, religion and politics.
• Focus on major cities served by the airline, especially for the “Great Dates” section.
• Pay attention to airline mergers for changes in publications.
• All contributing editors (all of whom are listed on staff page) have websites. Feel free to contact them personally about stories concerning travel, wine, food, resorts, golf, sports, adventure getaways, and products. Targeted pitches to them can turn into writer pitches to the editor.
Twitter account: @InsideSKY
Airline served: Delta
• When pitching editors, be sure to strike the right tone. Don’t come off too familiar or casual, but lawyer lingo is not necessary.
American Way, Celebrated Living, AA Nexos
• Food and wine coverage is a big focus, especially with a celebrity emphasis.
• The magazine often runs special sections on health topics, as well as those on specific destinations that might include medical or health content.
• Sky is currently interested in business and trend stories, not just travel stories.
Airline served: American Airlines
• Business features are a plus.
Krystal Tingle is the freelancer relations expert and senior account executive at The Abbi Agency. Follow her @krystaltingle. A version of this story first appeared on The Abbi Agency Blog. Follow The Abbi Agency on Twitter @TheAbbiAgency.
• The “Itinerary” section is the easiest way to break into magazine.
• American Airlines Publishing did away with its social sites. For editorial info, tweet @americanair. They promise to respond.
• American Way runs a good many briefs. Pitch destinations that are not as feature worthy for those. Oftentimes, American Eagle destinations are covered in this section.