Telum Talks To: Quentin Long from Australian Traveller Media
Interview

Telum Talks To: Quentin Long from Australian Traveller Media

"Great PRs will work with us in a commercial way to help us find the resources to tell stories that we would dearly love to but simply can't due to constrained time and people."

In celebration of the 50th edition of International Traveller, Telum Media spoke to Quentin Long, Managing Director at Australian Traveller Media, about the publication's editorial team and its most significant milestones.

How has Australian Traveller Media and its editorial team grown over time?
As you can imagine, it has changed enormously in 20 years. It is almost unrecognisable from where we started. Facebook was less than 12 months old and Instagram had not been invented when we started. 

The biggest shift is obviously to digital skills. When we started, we had an editor who only focused on print and circulation. The print content was loaded onto the site by admin staff. The GFC accelerated the shift to digital, and we changed to having print and digital content teams. COVID-19 came along, and again, we had exhausted the value of a two-team strategy and consolidated it into a single content team led by a digital native who had never worked in print and now manages the entire print and digital team.
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The skills and outlook of this unified content team still include the same core roles in print, but there are now an expanded number of digital roles. Interestingly, we started with an editor, a sub-editor / writer, a designer, and an editorial assistant. Today, we still have all four roles.

The difference is the reporting structure and the other roles. Now, the print editor reports to the head of content (a digital native). Plus, we have a writer / social media editor, a web producer, and a native content editor, and we are recruiting an evergreen content editor. None of those roles even existed in 2005. The team works across all mediums but has its own core platforms and skills. I really believe we now have a situation where the whole is far greater than the sum of the parts. 

What do you consider to be the most significant milestones?
  • Launching the first issue of Australian Traveller in 2005, of course, with a website and a paywall (How ahead of our times were we. We removed it after about two years, though)
  • Restructuring after three months to go bi-monthly, which was painful but a necessary pivot.
  • "the issue that saved us" and "100 Things To Do In Australia Before You Die".
  • Appointing Elisabeth Knowles, an editor from a lifestyle and travel background, gave us a far better product.
  • The GFC obviously tested our strength, and through that process, with our more focused editor, we found our groove. 
  • Launching our second brand, International Traveller, in 2012.
  • COVID-19 was a tremendous period of growth that surprised many people. But, we restructured into our current single content team and developed the business around 'content campaigns', which have been our secret sauce ever since.  
How would you describe your audience and community?
They are smart and discerning women in white-collar households who see travel as a key ingredient to a life well-loved. They are also experience-seekers, first and foremost, who will prioritise experience over comfort - most of the time. So they start at 4.5 comfort and go up. But if the experience is worth it, and it aligns with their 'travel lifecycle' (what they are seeking from their travel at this point in time), then they will go to zero stars.

What exciting plans do you have in store for Australian Traveller Media?
I just love the slate of campaigns Katie, our Head of Content, and Imogen, our Print Editor, have developed as a team. For International Traveller, they are The New Luxury, the 100 Greatest Cultural Experiences, and Trailblazing Travel. For Australian Traveller, we are publishing 100 Aussie Wonders, The Next Big Thing, and Ultimate Summer.

What does an ideal pitch look like to your team, and what advice would you give to PRs hoping to be featured?
  • Short and informed. Informed about our readership, content campaigns, and what we have published about the destination or topic previously.
  • Understand that both Katie and Imogen have commissioning budgets. They have different priorities, but they work as an incredible team, so don't pitch one without the other (and there are four other content experts worth talking to).
  • Realise that we only commission digital pieces, but that is largely destination guide-based, so it is not a lovely narrative but more focused on the mid-to-lower funnel of where, what, and how. 
I got a lot of flack from the PR community when I said 99 percent of PR fails, I still stand by this. We do not have the resources to do even 10 percent of all the great ideas we have or are pitched. Great PRs will recognise this and work with us in a commercial way to help us find the resources to tell stories that we would dearly love to but simply can't due to constrained time and people. 

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