“I was rather thick-skinned about it” is how co-founder Denise Li said she scored this awesome trip to go to Rio de Janeiro with Google, on behalf of TODAY.
A keen practitioner of Brazilian jiu-jitsu, Denise was stoked beyond words when she found out she’d be heading to the 2016 Olympics venue with Google. “I previously worked with Serene – who now works in the travel and lifestyle section of TODAY – when we were both at CLEO, and we still meet up every now and then as we have lots of mutual friends. I heard she was on the lookout for freelancers at TODAY, which does a huge volume of stories every day, so I told her that I was available to write stories if she needed help,” says Denise about how she came to contribute to the daily.
“Serene didn’t actually approach me for this story but a mutual friend told me that she was having a hard time looking for an available freelancer to go on this 6-day trip, so I decided to try my luck and approached her directly about it,” Denise explains, proving that in the world of entrepreneurship, we never let go of any chance to hustle!
You’ve written travel features for magazines, websites, and papers – is there any difference in the way these articles should be written for each platform?
When writing for magazines and newspapers, it’s important to understand two things: How that particularly medium is branded, and who that medium is targeting. That will help you decide what tone and voice to adopt. Some outlets prefer a more experiential angle, while others prefer more informative, authoritative slants, so this is something you need to have an implicit understanding of before writing your piece.
The key difference between writing for magazines/newspapers and websites is formatting. Listicles probably still work best for websites as people want easily digestible pieces of information they can take away with them should they be planning a holiday to the destination that’s being written about.
How do you go about forming a travel story?
A good travel story should be a balance of the following elements: A description of your experience, your feelings about the place, AND useful information that the reader can use.
I think the key word here is “balance”. If you get carried away with talking about your experience and how you felt, you might as well start a travel blog or start writing your version of “Eat, Pray, Love”. A good travel story has these, but it needs to be balanced out with objectively useful information or interesting bits of trivia that the reader might find interesting, to prevent the piece coming across as self-absorbed.
Why is this travel story a good way to promote Google’s products?
The trip allowed me to tell readers more about Google’s products by giving insights about a destination that most Singaporeans have probably not visited before. I weaved in mentions and explanations of how Google products can help travellers better explore an unfamiliar place. For instance, how Google’s Art and Culture app can help travellers learn more about a certain landmark they’re visiting in real time, almost like having a tour guide on-demand. It helped a lot that there was a lot of “synergy” between the products and the destination I was writing about, so readers don’t feel that they are being sold to – an ever important consideration these days in the age of content marketing!
Read Denise’s feature on Rio de Janeiro on TODAY’s website here.