Or getting PR people to do the research for you.
Getting story ideas
One excellent source of story ideas is Travmedia. The premise is quite simple: it collects press releases from tourist boards, hotels, tour companies etc from all over the world and stores them in one place. This means travel writers can have a look through and see if there’s anything that interests them.
Of course, there’s an awful lot of crap in there, but the useless bits of self-promotion are usually easy to spot a mile off and can happily be ignored.
Getting PR people to do the research for you
But the best aspect of Travmedia is the ‘Journalist Alert’ function. This comes in extremely useful when doing research for a feature you might not know too much about. Just type in what you’re after, and it gets sent out to all the tourist boards, PR agencies, tour companies etc that subscribe. And most of them do subscribe.
The PR people will then usually come back a few days later with some ideas that may fit your query.
Sparing use of Journalist Alert
The Journalist Alert should only be used sparingly, however. There are many PRs out there that will leap upon every opportunity to flog and plug their products. And they’ve no compunction about doing so when the subject is completely irrelevant.
Almost every time I’ve used the Travmedia Journalist Alert, I have been besieged with e-mails. Some are very helpful, but other just make me angry. I’ll have been very specific in the request, to the point of saying: “No shoehorning in irrelevant hotels and tours – they will not be used”. And, unsurprisingly, the hotel pests still send a long missive through.