Back to Back Issues Page
Issue #44: Seven Reasons Assignment Letters May be Meaningless for Press Trips
January 05, 2015
Greetings Writers!

It’s a new year and a time when everyone makes fresh plans to improve something or do something different.

If one of your goals is to get serious with your travel writing in 2015, or to step it up to the next level, you can benefit from some personal, one-on-one advice. In 2015 I’m planning to offer some coaching services to help you.

Without a good mentor, you’re basically on your own as a beginning freelance travel writer. You have to figure out how it all works, which takes a lot of time. Then you will make mistakes, which wastes more of your time. Often you don’t even know what you’re doing wrong.

Getting some expert advice early on in your travel writing journey can make a huge difference.

I know this because I made every beginner’s error possible when I started out in 2007. Even though I attended a great workshop to teach me the basics of travel writing, once I got home and sat down at my computer, I found a million questions to ask. And there was no one to answer them. Reading my books and reference materials helped, but it took a lot of time to work it all out. And I still had questions and made mistakes.

I learned from my mistakes and over time evolved a marketing process that gets 90% of my articles published, either in print or online. Since then I’ve had more than 900 articles published in 190 different publications - from magazines and newspapers to in-flights and on-boards, as well as online.

With my coaching services I’m inviting you to tap into my wealth of experience.

There are three kinds of requests I get from travel writers over and over again, so I’m setting up packages to address each of these needs. Whether you’re looking for feedback and fine-tuning for your query letters, some expert advice about how to sell your story ideas and where to sell them, or some mentoring for your long list of burning questions on many topics - there will be a package to address each of those needs.

Later this week, in a separate email, I’ll send out more information about my coaching services along with details about how you can tap into them. I’ll look forward to working with you, and helping you achieve your travel writing goals in the new year.

Featured Article in This Issue:

I’ve always been a proponent of securing assignment letters (aka Letters of Assignment or LOA’s) before going on press trips. Letters of assignment are, simply, a declaration by the editor of a magazine or website that he is interested in your travel story, and that if it is written to acceptable standards he will publish it in his magazine at some time in the future.

Once you have an LOA or two, you can use them as collateral to request or apply for press trips.

An assignment letter can be an official email or a physical letter from the editor to the press trip-sponsoring agency confirming the agreement between editor and writer. Or, it could simply be an email from the editor to the writer “accepting” the story idea.

In my experience, many PR and tourism agencies do not require you to actually prove or produce your LOA before assigning you to their press trips. Your word that you have an LOA is usually enough to satisfy them. The few times a tourism agency has requested proof of my assignment letter, I have simply forwarded the email from my editor indicating his interest and commitment to my story. This has always sufficed.

But different writers have different experiences and opinions about this process. So in this issue, I’ve published a guest editorial from a fellow travel writer and friend, Karin Leperi.

I first met Karin Leperi at Travel Media Showcase and then on a press trip or two over the next few years. She’s my kind of writer: a serious, hard-core, bootstraps travel writer. She’s been published prolifically in numerous print magazines and online websites.

Here’s Karin’s take on assignment letters and why she doesn’t use them to secure press trips, along with a few of my own comments within the article.

Seven Reasons Why
Assignment Letters Can Be
Meaningless for Press Trips

By Karin Leperi

My friend Roy Stevenson and I have a difference of opinion on the merit of assignment letters (a.k.a. Letters of Assignment or LOA’s) for securing a seat on a press trip.

Though we are both professional writers with published bylines in numerous outlets, there are many ways to take that journey toward seeing your name and your article in the spotlight. Some writers prefer to obtain LOA’s before they take a trip, while others prefer to stand on the merits of their outlets and ability to get articles published.

I understand the need by media hosts to weed out legitimate writers and an assignment letter helps them do this. Otherwise, they end up with bloggers who have low readership primarily encircling family and close-friends, or writers with assignments from obscure publications.

Travel is my primary writing genre, so it is essential that I get into the field to find stories and experience destinations in a way that I can capture the texture and vibrancy of the place. To do that, I seek press trips as a way to minimize my outlay while researching story possibilities.

I am an organic writer, meaning that my stories take form while I am on the road. This is where I discover the nuances, the hidden charms, and the off-the-beaten path stories.

But here’s the rub.

Many Convention & Visitors Bureaus (CVB’s), Destination Marketing Organizations (DMO’s), and public relations (PR) firms assume that an assignment letter from an editor can help them winnow serious journalists from pseudo writers. That way their press trip ends up with only qualified journalists who can guarantee published articles. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

Unfortunately, that not how it always works. There are some things that make those assignment letters meaningless. Here are seven of them:

Continue reading the article ....

Please share this e-zine with friends, family or anyone who may be interested in travel writing and can benefit from some free marketing and travel writing information.

That’s all for now.

Until next time, you keep pitching....


Roy Stevenson
Pitch Travel Write

Please note: Some products mentioned in this e-zine may result in my receiving a small referral fee if you decide to purchase the product. I only recommend products and services that I believe are high quality and can help you be more successful as a freelance writer. Please let me know if you have any questions.

Back to Back Issues Page