Our third ‘couple’ in the first of our ‘blind date’ series were Anita Gryson, associate director at Relevance International and Sharron Livingston, editor at The Travel Magazine. Here’s what happened when they met for their PR and journalist ‘blind date’.
How was your lunch?
Sharron: It was interesting and fun. Anita was a fabulous lunch date.
Anita: Lunch was enjoyable and informative. It was a great opportunity to catch up with Sharron who I hadn’t seen since before I started working at Relevance International, just over a year ago. The team at Vuelio did a fantastic job at ‘matching’ us seeing as Sharron and I have both been working in the travel and lifestyle sector for over ten years. We met each other at the start of my career when I had just moved to London. We travelled together to a luxury resort I was launching in the Seychelles, and have made sure to arrange regular catch ups since then.
Sharron is passionate about travel and is regularly interviewed on TV, radio and in the press about travel trends and destinations. She updated me on the latest news from The Travel Magazine, a travel portal with highly informative, upbeat and inspirational articles for people who love to travel. We discussed potential stories for some of my clients including The Royal Atlantis Resort and Residences opening in Q2 2020 and The World’s 50 Best Restaurants’ 50 Best Explores travel series.
Did you learn anything new about their role? If so, what?
Sharron: I wasn’t aware of her new role. So, it was great to chat about what she does and who and her clients are.
Anita: It was interesting to hear about the way in which The Travel Magazine works with brands. She explained that the magazine has existed purely as an online publication since 2009 and is focused on brand journalism and cross-platform storytelling. As storytellers, they work with clients to include their brand and product offering as native advertising through highly informative, upbeat and inspirational articles. They also use their substantial social media following to not only promote a brand but also engage their readers with it.
In the past 10 years, The Travel Magazine has worked with hundreds of clients, including airlines, accommodation providers, CVBs, DMOs, visitor attractions, travel accessories, tour operators, OTAs, cruise companies, and many more.
Were you surprised by anything they told you about their job?
Anita: Sharron and I established that there is definitely a misconception that our jobs are all about travelling, sipping champagne and parties. Ironically, we were discussing this over lunch while sipping a glass of wine.
Naturally, everyone sees the glamour of a career which involves travelling around the world. Due to the valuable time spent away from the office, travel time, layovers and time differences, the role can also involve fact checking at midnight having just landed at Heathrow, or writing a press trip report or article in transit to ensure deadlines are met. To be successful as a travel journalist or PR, it is a must to be passionate about travel and determined to get the job done. Sharron always delivers.
If you could share one top tip from lunch what would it be?
Sharron: Ask lots of questions and listen intently.
Anita: I would advise brands who want to engage with influencers to look further than those who are associated with Instagram. Online platforms can be valuable and have proven to make a difference to a brand’s bottom line.
Do you think this lunch will change how you interact with PRs/journalists in the future?
Sharron: Not really.
Anita: Driving results for clients and forging strong relationships with journalists will always remain at the forefront of my mind. Ultimately, our aim is to get that story published. Taking time to get to know someone’s likes and dislikes helps us build strong working relationships. Being professional, passionate and connected continue to be key work values I live by.
Did you disagree on anything? If so, what?
Sharron: No. It was a conversation and an exchange of ideas and we explained how we work and what we are looking to achieve.
Anita: The conversation cards we were given allowed for an interesting conversation about journalists and PRs, best and worst experiences, what we look for, respectively, when working with journalists and PRs, and common misconceptions. We were very much on the same page.
If you could change one thing about PRs/journalists what would it be and why?
Sharron: Only that I would like to receive only relevant stuff, but with round-robins that is not likely.
Anita: I’d love to swap jobs for a day so that PRs can appreciate the hard work that journalists do as well as what we do for them.
Finally, do you think you’ll stay in touch?
Sharron: Yes. I am sure there are ways to work together.
Anita: Absolutely. It was great to hear how The Travel Magazine has evolved since its launch. I hope to still be working with Sharron in ten years’ time, and again ten years after that, with regular catch ups and lunches. A big thanks to Vuelio for arranging this one!
Sharron and Anita’s ‘blind date’ took place at the Paternoster Chop House aka the First Dates restaurant! If you’re a PR or a journalist and you’d like to be set up on one of Vuelio’s professional ‘blind dates’, please email Rebecca Potts.