8 Tips for Travel Publicists During the Coronavirus Pandemic

As a writer, I get hundreds of travel pitches a week.

For the past month, I’ve gotten hundreds of exceptionally bad pitches. 

Panic pitches, we call them.

Writer friends and I talk about this. For now, we accept them, because we know they’re not the new normal. It’s a strange time in our world, and we’re all feeling the pain. While many writers and I have lost work, travel publicists should realize we know you’ve been effected too. In fact, while the travel industry has been hit hard, we’re aware the setback involves the people working behind the scenes, including public relations.

Scroll Down To See 8 Tips For Travel Publicists Below.

Travel PR is essential to the industry.
Travel PR is essential to the industry.

Publicists help tell the great stories in travel, and I appreciate all their amazing work. Of course, with the current pandemic, and the fact travel is nowhere on anyone’s radar (for now), their jobs are even more challenging. 

These are the only 3 officials who can approve travel again after the pandemic.

I admire travel publicists even more knowing they have to successfully navigate these unbelievable times. Their brands and clients are essentially closed and shut off to the world, whether destinations or hotels, cruise lines or restaurants. It’s not an easy time to be a publicist, and many writers and I have discussed how we can’t imagine being in their shoes right now. We understand the pressure they’re under, not just from their clients, but for their careers. On a daily basis, I personally receive multiple emails from friends and colleagues in travel PR who are being furloughed or let go, ultimately losing their jobs. Some of these professionals have worked for over a decade and have helped me write travel stories. Trust me: I know how rough it is right now.

Here’s how much the travel industry will lose due to coronavirus.

But as we adjust to this pandemic, and realize how much our lives will change, I think both writers and publicists have an opportune time to work on our relationships. I’m fortunate to know publicists who are incredibly hardworking and dynamic, and I believe there are many who could take time to build and foster a human connection, likewise with writers.

A great number of travel publicists are friends of mine. I tell them regularly how essential they are, and how our relationships will strengthen once we rise from this pandemic. But for those who I don’t get the pleasure to speak to every day, I put together a short, 8 tips for travel publicists list of how we can continue to work better, and what’s helpful to writers right now. 

See you on the other side. 

8 tips for travel publicists during the coronavirus pandemic

1. It’s OK to not pitch at all, but that doesn’t mean you can’t check in.

The best emails I receive are from publicists who are simply checking in. I’ve received emails from publicists I hardly know reaching out to see if I was doing OK, hoping that I was staying safe in this crazy and uncomfortable time—with no pitch attached. I appreciate this human connection.

2. Don’t ask freelance writers who they’re writing for these days. 

Like dozens of other writers I communicate with on a daily basis, many of us have lost work. Stories and assignments have been postponed and/or killed. When you ask us who we’re writing for these days in your first email, it often feels like you’re throwing salt on our wounds. Wait for us to come to you, or check out our Muckracks, which are regularly updated. A lot of writers post their work on social media, like Twitter or Facebook, so you can always check those sites too, which could be more timely.

If you really, really need to know, one thing that works instead is when publicists ask: “Are you working on anything I can help with?”


3. Don’t pitch virtual tours. 

There are some outlets who may run a virtual tour for lack of content to produce, but these pitches are clogging my inbox. I would rather get pitches for feel good stories (see No. 7). 

If you absolutely must pitch a virtual tour, do something interesting with it. Throw in a Where’s Waldo, have a local comedian narrate for an audio tour, I really don’t care… just do something to stand out.

4. Do not in any shape or form tie your client to the pandemic. 

Unless it’s a feel-good story (ie: Our hotel is offering free rooms for medical workers, cooking for local homeless people or started a GoFund Me campaign for families that lost loved ones), your coronavirus pitch could feel insensitive. Some people can’t see Gal Gadot the same way again. NYSC has been charging gym members every month while their clubs closed. The way you communicate now could definitely hurt you in the long run. Please be careful. 

5. Don’t start your pitch with these two sentences. 

“I know it’s a difficult time but…”

“I hope you’re well!”

Sunset Cancun Nizuc.

6. DO remind us of your brand with any updates. 

Whether it’s good news or not-so-good news, significant updates help keep us informed and can always be part of a larger story if it doesn’t make sense for a stand-alone piece. 


Understandably, there’s a lack of feel-good stories right now, but it’s these kinds of stories that I am personally looking for. Brands making an impact or difference in a positive way not only inspires readers, it shows the brand’s level of commitment to helping people in need. Whether it’s the story of a brand financially/medically supporting an employee (like a hotel concierge or restaurant dishwasher); how a private jet company is helping deliver thousands of medical supplies to hospitals that need it (for *free,* showing sacrifice); a city helping flatten the curve by producing hilarious tourism board-funded videos to keep people at home; a rental car agency helping people stay indoors by using its fleet to deliver groceries; how a hotel gave all its employees flatten the curve T-shirts to wear and post on Instagram. You get the idea. Some brands are going above and beyond, and people are remembering.

The 2 reasons why airlines are still flying planes with 0 passengers.

8. Hang in there!

Writers know how challenging your job is right now. Hang in there! We have always been on your side, and we’ll get through this together.

Also, if you haven’t yet, it would be AMAZING if you can subscribe to my Youtube. I work very hard on it, so any support would be appreciated.

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Jimmy Im has traveled to 113 countries, stayed in over 600 hotels and has flown a million airmiles. He lives in New York City.

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