For our first installment of Fact Checking in 2016, we played host to the one and only Eric Lucas, travel adventure extraordinaire. As a freelance writer and managing editor at Alaska Beyond, Eric spends at least 1/3 of his time on the road. He admitted that he always has a bag packed in his closet, ready for the next trip.
So we felt fortunate that Eric took time out of his calendar to meet with our PR team. We asked him these five burning questions, and a few others that will remain undocumented. Eric covers the Hawaii, Alaska, Mexico and European territories for the magazine, and a couple regions in between, such as the October International Balloon Fiesta in Albuquerque as see in the image above. His topics for the magazine include sustainability, outdoor activities, regional cuisine, arts and culture, health and fitness.
- What’s the best story pitch you’ve received in recent years?
The topic was an artisan chocolatier in Hawaii. About 18 months ago I received a pitch from an agency in Hawaii that represents one of the new, “bean-to-bar” chocolatiers. It’s a thing and I’m here to say it’s a good thing. I’m in favor of this thing. In Hawaii they’re starting a cacao industry, and there’s several enterprises that are making chocolate from Hawaii cacao. I didn’t know this was happening but I turned it into a feature story that ran last May. That was precipitated by a press release from someone representing one of the chocolate makers. This is how it happens. Something I receive from one of you, makes me say – “Oh, I didn’t know that.” Then it if it can be expanded enough, the original chocolate maker was predominately featured in what I wrote.
- What is your ideal lead time?
Much longer than most. For us, it’s a minimum three months, by and large. If the world’s greatest idea came our way two months’ time, we could wedge it in. For example, we already have figured out the approach to the Seattle story this May. I think a writer has already been hired and started research on the story. I like to tell people six months in advance is not too soon. There is no instant gratification in my world. It often takes 2-6 months, even three years for something that I have experienced to make it into print. No blogging that shows up the next day. We don’t have a blogger or real time website for the magazines yet. Seasonal pitches are not of great interest to us.
- What are your PR pet peeves?
Number one, sending me things I have absolutely no use for. People who have paid no attention whatsoever to my profile. What is that big company? Cision. So they don’t want me to tell you what I’m going to tell you. I did the mistake of putting myself in their system. They organize writers by category, so I get a thousand press releases about some new flavored beer because I’m included in “Food and Drink.” I understand that there are a lot of writers and editors, it’s not fair for me to expect that you study every profile of every person you send something to. I’m here in Seattle, and I think that I can say that GreenRubino never sends me stuff about craft beer and salmon flavored vodka. That is because you respect that aspect of my profile. I receive thousands of cookware announcements. To the extent that’s possible, I urge you to consult my profile and use common sense.
Secondly, please keep it brief. Facts at a glance or one page fact sheets are helpful.
Thirdly, please send me accurate information. Yes, I get inaccurate information. Do not make claims that simply aren’t so. The World’s Biggest Ferris Wheel. If you’re going to say that, please make sure it’s true. I would suggest you to avoid all such things.
- What would you like to see more from PR professionals?
If I was giving a presentation to PRSA, this is what I would say. Your most important job is to know your territory. You represent a hotel in Bozeman, but have you been there? You have to know well what you represent. The most significant thing you can offer me is to be able to answer my question. You can’t possibly put in your one page fact sheet. People try, they send me six page flowery essays about their dining rooms. Which I need is for you to answer the phone when I call you, and answer me if your dining room uses locally-sourced beef. If you work for someone who won’t send you there, have them call me.
- If you weren’t a journalist, what would you be?
I would be a farmer. I would grow barley and beans and that is my long term retirement plan on Lopez Island.