The Sun Travel
Matt Hampton, The Sun’s deputy travel editor – in an exclusive media briefing with Gorkana on Tuesday 23 February – opened up on the challenges of creating the diverse mix of content featured in the section – online and off, the “dream” destinations for Sun readers in 2016 and how PRs can get involved.
The Sun’s travel section, which appears in print every Saturday and Sunday, aims to inspire its readers’ holiday and break choices. As Matt Hampton, deputy travel editor at The Sun explained, this can range from a weekend trip in the UK to a month-long “esoteric” adventure sports holiday.
In the media briefing with Gorkana’s head of news and content, Philip Smith, Hampton noted how broad the paper’s readership is and how his remit is, effectively, “to please everyone”. He is part of a three-strong team with travel editor Lisa Minot and joint deputy editor Pete Bell, which also takes responsibility for all online travel content.
With some 1.9 million daily unique visitors to The Sun’s website and the title’s average daily circulation in print of around 1.8 million, the travel content has a big potential audience and Hampton wants help from PRs to feed the content “furnace” and help him “create something out of nothing.” Here are three points which comms professionals should bear in mind when pitching to The Sun’s Travel team.
Price points are integral in the first approach
“I want to know how much it costs first, because everything has a price. If Sun readers can’t buy it for a decent price, then we’re not interested.” Hampton explained that the team write about vacations with a variety of prices, but The Sun’s readers are most likely to look for holidays between the £300 short break mark and “top whack”, which is around £1000. While this allows the team to cover diverse trips, Hampton emphasised the importance of British breaks. He added: “Any given edition will always have UK focus”.
Be available for last minute information requests
“Forgive us when we come to you at last minute demanding the world.” With a small team and a busy schedule, Hampton reflected that the travel section is sometimes “haphazard”. He said that while it’s a “luxury” to be able to change things up week-to-week – including expanding the size of the section, if required – often he will need more information or visuals from PRs at the last minute. His advice to PRs? “Keep a current file of things you’ve been working on.”
Get straight to the point
“If I don’t understand what the story is about in three seconds, it’s straight in the bin. Don’t try and be clever. We know you’re clever – don’t try and be smart with wordplay. We’ll sort all that out later.” The travel team is open to hearing from PRs by email or call, but as long as the pitch is concise and suited to The Sun’s readers. PRs should have a knowledge of the section simply by reading the paper, and while Hampton, Minot and Bell all cover different areas of travel, PRs should feel they can pitch to them all in the first instance.
Phil Harper, national PR manager at English Heritage, attended the event and said: “I found it really useful – a good insight into the working of The Sun’s Travel team and lots of helpful advice for how PRs can work with the publication. Matt was very helpful in suggesting the best approach for contacting the Travel desk. Personally, I find events like this really useful for just sense-checking the best ways to work with media.”