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We All Travel. We All Write. Are We All Travel Writers?

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I travel often, am opinionated, love to share, and am socially connected on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and Yelp accounts. With all of these social media tools at my disposal – I feel empowered – and so do many people in the same situation. And I mean MANY people. The proliferation of self-publishing tools seem to be blurring the lines of travel writing making it difficult to determine the self-promoters from the true influencers. Recently, Emirates Airlines engaged with MSLGROUP to help with the launch of the A380 up-gauge at San Francisco International Airport (SFO) and we were tasked with just that – cutting through the noise to find the true influencers in the market.

We invited almost two-dozen San Francisco Bay Area reporters to the Emirates’ event – we selected these reporters through our own relationships and experience, and through extensive research using tools such as Vocus, Twitter and Grouphigh. I took some time to talk to some of the travel reporters who attended the event about their experience getting into travel writing, how writing has changed with social media and how they feel about the explosion of travelers turning to social media to share their treks.

Teresa Rodriguez has been in the travel industry for more than 10 years and has started three travel websites: TangoDiva, JetsetExtra and JetsetMama. She says that she isn’t a big fan of social media but that travel writing takes a lot of work and passion – not just a ticket and smartphone. “I know a few ‘travel writers’ who are not travel writers, but self-promotion machines. I am not inspired by what they write or say. They are not going to get me to visit a place from their 140 character tweet or their self-promoting blog,” explains Rodriguez.

“To me, writing and travel serve a higher purpose. I am responsible for capturing the heart and soul of a destination. I am a caretaker of each place I visit – as well as a representation of an American single mother,” says Rodriguez.

I tend to agree that quality wins. But we are seeing a shift where individuals with an iPhone and Tumblr account or Instagram feed can gain a serious following, and with that they can influence the market. But there has to be a healthy balance.

Dana Rebmann has been a travel reporter for a little less than 10 years, but has been in journalism for more than 20 years. She’s found a balance between writing and social media. With social media, Rebmann does “much more reporting on the go now – tweeting and posting photos to Instagram of good things.” Social media also allows her to “share information with readers and followers quickly, as opposed to having them wait until a piece airs or is published.” As far as everyday travel writers entering the field, she warns: “just like other professions, if you don’t do your job well, word gets around.”

The new generation of news consumers are visual, and they like quick bites of news, as we are seeing on Instagram and Buzzfeed. We are already seeing brands and their public relations firms gravitate towards these everyday influencers. I’m excited to see these two groups collide for innovative content that transcends the printed word and dated guidebooks of yesteryear.

Image credit: Ge.Ne via Flickr

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Angela Lestar

Angela Lestar

Senior Account Supervisor at MSLGROUP

Angela Lestar is a senior account supervisor at MSLGROUP, specializing in technology and consumer public relations in the San Francisco office.

Angela Lestar

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