PRESS PASS Newsletter

Volume 37, Issue 03, March 2019

A publication of the International Food, Wine & Travel Writers Assoc.
Distributed to IFWTWA Members Only.

In this issue...

March Member Madness

Stacks of coins on soil with Referral chalkboard sign

Do you know someone who could benefit from being a member of IFWTWA? If so, you should refer them this March. If they apply in the month of March 2019, list you as the referrer and are accepted as a member (no due date for acceptance of their March 2019 application), you will receive a $50 credit towards your future membership fees. That’s two and a half times the current referral credit of $20! What’s even better is that you can receive credit for up to five member referrals—that’s $250 in credit toward your IFWTWA membership fee. Let’s make this a great month for new members!

No Writer is an Island

~Noreen Kompanik
“Individually we are one drop, but together we are an ocean.” — Author unknown

Ocean ~ Message in a bottle

It’s human nature to want to feel a part of something. That’s one of the main reasons people join clubs and organizations. When I made the transition from full-time nursing to full-time freelance travel writing, I realized that as exciting as my new life was, I wasn’t part of a team like I had been at the hospital. Much of the work I was producing was now being done in my home office, practically in solitude.

So, I began to venture out. I joined my regional Travel Massive group. Next, I became a member of IFWTWA. Before I knew it, I was reaping the benefits of these formed relationships and my affiliations with other groups as well.

Let’s look at the ways professional organizations like ours can benefit travel writers and bloggers from an insider’s perspective.

Receive Encouragement and Support

Joining an organization allows for bonding due to a shared sense of mission, interest and values. Obviously, we are all here because we love travel. We are storytellers and content creators who do this through our articles, photos, and videos, and by utilizing radio, television, and tourism mediums.

We have opportunities to share one another’s content through social media outlets like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. And by doing so, this not only increases our outreach as travel specialists, it also invites the public to come along with us on our exciting adventures to exotic destinations.

Collaborative posts are another way our members can feel part of the “team.” These posts like the Valentines Day Dining Guide provide opportunities for writers to share information about their favorite restaurants and destinations. Again, these articles are shared on social media platforms giving each contributor and the organization greater exposure in the world of travel.

Tap the Power of Networking

I’ve often said that “None of us knows everything, but each of us knows something, therefore, we all know more.” One of the ways we find out what we don’t know or want to know is through networking.

When we interact with others—on a press trip, at a writer’s conference or even through an online group, our base of knowledge increases tenfold. The sharing of information creates endless possibilities. We find out about publications looking for freelance writers, which editors are the best to work with, the contact information for tourism board or cruise ship reps, or even how to draw more followers to our website or social media platforms.

On my most recent media trip to Valle De Guadalupe, Mexico, there was so much information shared between our group of attendees that it was mind-boggling. We shared story ideas, identified new writing opportunities, and even picked up a few photography and videography tips. We wouldn’t have learned any of this new information if we hadn’t signed up for the media trip in the first place.

Open Doors for More Travel Opportunities

Let’s face it. We all love to travel…and eat…and drink wine. And if we could do that more often when it’s not all coming out of our pocket that’s even better.

One of the benefits of being an IFWTWA member is just that—the opportunities to travel on someone else’s dime. Members can reach out for media trip opportunities that are shared through Press Pass, on our website and on the Facebook page. These trips include both unofficial and official-IFWTWA sponsored or approved trips, and the good news is that we’re planning to increase the number of trips we offer our members in 2019.

Hone Your Writing and Photography Skills

One of the best ways to improve our craft is to see how other colleagues are finding their paths to success. How are they finding more followers on their websites and social media pages? How are they monetizing? How are writers breaking into well-paying publications? What are the tricks photographers are using to get those incredible awe-inspiring shots?

Eventually, each of us would figure out the answers to these questions but navigating some of these issues can be quite cumbersome and time-consuming if we’re doing it alone. And there’s no reason to when you’re part of a supportive group of like-minded travel professionals where you can reach out for help and advice.

Educational opportunities abound and members will have the perfect chance to learn more about honing their craft at the upcoming IFWTWA conference in Santa Fe, New Mexico this November. Have a topic you’d like to know more about? You can make those suggestions right on our Facebook page.

When all is said and done, each of us decides how much we get out of the group or organization we’re a part of. How much we put in is directly related to how much we get back. One thing is for certain however. None of us ever has to feel like we’re an island. We’re not out there alone.


~ Beth Graham

ICYMI (In Case You Missed It) is a new column in Press Pass intended to help members better understand the benefits and programs available through IFWTWA, including detailed policies and procedures. In this issue, we’ll share the details on the IFWTWA  Media & Press Trip programs. In future issues of Press Pass, we’ll delve into the organization’s budget, membership, regional opportunities, board selection process and more.

Aqua puzzle with one white piece left to complete

IFWTWA Media Trips

There are three different types of media & press trips you may hear about through IFWTWA.

  1. IFWTWA member media trips - these are association-sanctioned trips that are arranged by the media trip committee for regular members. Any questions related to IFWTWA media trips should be addressed to the media trip committee.

  2. Regional press trips - Members are encouraged to join together and arrange press trips and events within their local regions. We’re working on formalizing a program for regional trips so stay tuned.

  3. Non-IFWTWA public press trip opportunities presented in Press Pass and in the Facebook group - these are press trips that have been posted publicly and are discovered by members and are not affiliated with IFWTWA. Members are welcome to apply or contact hosts on their own.

IFWTWA Member Media Trips
Media Trip Committee Chair: Noreen Kompanik

The IFWTWA media trip committee will vet all applicants to ensure their membership is current and that they meet all press trip qualifications (including an up-to-date profile - see FAQ). Applications are then forwarded directly to the media trip host with no further input or recommendations from the board or media trip committee. Board members, executive committee members nor the president are given preferential treatment in the selection process. The host will select attendees using their own criteria (social media numbers, outlets, audience, geographics, etc.). Once the host has notified the media trip committee chair of their selections, applicants are then notified of their selection status.

Media Trip Leaders
The media trip committee appoints a trip leader. Having traveled on a few press trips myself, including international ones, I can say that there is a definite need to have a designated member in charge. This is not always and not necessarily to address poor behavior, but to make decisions that are in the best interest of IFWTWA and attendees (schedule changes, illness, other unexpected situations). There is not a policy that this leader must be a board member, executive committee member, or the president. The leader is often selected based on their tenure with IFWTWA and their experience on prior media trips, so if a board member is selected for the trip, they will usually serve as a leader. In the event that no one on the board is attending the trip, the media trip committee selects a leader from the other attendees.

For several years, IFWTWA has charged a fee of $125 for domestic trips and $175 for international. These fees are used to support the operating costs of IFWTWA (we’ll address the IFWTWA budget in the next Press Pass). No portion of this fee is used towards the actual media trip itself nor for the press trip committee.

We’ll address regional events & press trips in a future Press Pass.

Writer or Blogger? That is the Question

~ Chris Cutler 

Woman beside pool reading online travel magazine

Recently, someone asked me to briefly explain the difference between a blogger and a travel writer. We considered posting this a few months ago, and since it came up, we’re doing it now. -- Chris

Most of us can probably not remember a world without the internet, but, believe it or not, the world wide web is not even 30 years old. Blogging as we know it today didn’t take off until late 1999, and not quite 20 years later, there are 440 million blogs around the world, a small percentage of the more than one billion websites that exist.

The abundance of blogs has caused many readers to confuse bloggers with journalists and writers. Bloggers write, of course, and many journalists—broadcast and print—have blogs, so the lines between the two blur at times with readers. There are vital differences, though.

Bloggers—for our purposes, travel bloggers—are anyone who starts a blog and writes whatever he or she wants. Their posts are often more personal in nature, and they write in a very casual manner. Bloggers often address the reader (you) and inject significant personal opinion in the post. They are a major part of the story. They are the personality behind and within the post, the participants.

Man on beach reading online blog

Journalists or writers—travel writers, in our case—produce articles that are more factual. They do research, conduct interviews, and report information. While travel writers can use an informal writing style, they write more formally than bloggers. They are more objective and usually do not directly address their readers. Writers focus on the substance of their stories. The travel writers, while present, are in the background of the story; they are observers.

Travel writing follows the traditional grammar and structure (a beginning, a middle, and an end) and has a narrative arc. The first sentence hooks the reader and ensures that he will continue to follow the story. More often than not, the article is long (500+ words). Sentences and paragraphs vary in length, creating a more fluid rhythm to the words and writing.
Travel blog posts are not linear and usually do not have a narrative arc. Many times the posts are short (under 300 words), as are sentences and paragraphs. Bloggers are not as concerned with grammar and intersperse sentence fragments and exclamation points throughout their posts. In addition to producing a choppy rhythm, this writing creates a mental sense of urgency within the reader.

While both are acceptable forms of writing today, keep in mind that Food, Wine, Travel is a magazine. We are looking for factual stories that introduce our readers to the food, wine, and travel around the world.

MATPRA Media Marketplace 

~ Kathleen Walls 

Richmond, Virginia, USA skyline & bridge on the James River

For those of you who have never attended MATPRA Media Marketplace, it's well worth considering. This year it will take place September 24-26 in Virginia’s Richmond Region. Even if you have been to Richmond, it is now expanded to include neighboring Powhatan County and the town of Ashland. This year the Hilton Short Pump is the host hotel. All applications must be received by midnight on March 15, 2019. Here's the link

I visited Richmond for a short time last year and found a lot of fun adventures there. My favorite was the Holocaust Museum. Wished I had more time to explore and this year, hopefully, I'll get it.

The past two years were both very exciting. Last year we were hosted by the Nemacolin Woodlands Resort located on 200,000 scenic acres in the Laurel Highlands of Southwestern Pennsylvania. This resort is far beyond its five-star rating. There are multiple types of lodgings there. We stayed in Chateau Lafayette: an upscale hotel modeled on the Ritz in Paris, France. It does transport you to Europe at its most elegant. It would probably take about a month to experience everything at the resort. There were wildlife safaris, golf, skeet shooting, off-roading, an award-winning spa, and tons more.

Another plus is that once you are there, everything is covered. There are two-day trips at the hosting city. You can pick a pre- and post- tour. Last year I did Pittsburgh for my pre and Butler County, PA for my post. You meet with CVB folks from the Mid-Atlantic States. All of the trips offer multiple types of choices so no matter your interest you will find something you like.

Photography on Paper

~ Judy & Len Garrison

Man admiring printed landscape image

When sharing your passion and skills in the photography profession, words never seem to do the trick. Of course, some skills are easily listed and should be; however, the proof of what you can do can only be qualified in your portfolio.

What is your skill set? Neither of us (Judy or Len) studied photography in college, so neither of us has a ‘professional’ degree. We are self-taught and still learning. With all the materials that are readily available to everyone, we don’t believe you have to have a degree in anything anymore. Research, online classes, local classes, and simply getting out and doing the leg work will teach you more than you can possibly fathom.

There are some skills you can list on a resume that show a working knowledge of photography and its technical side.

For example, what editing software do you use? Do you shoot film? Do you manipulate images? What about high resolution imaging? Do you know how to achieve that?

Composition is always in the eye of the beholder, but it’s something to consider. What about color or creativity? Do you prefer natural light or flash photography? Do you look for patterns?

Do you know about copywriting? Do you metatag your images? What about intellectual property? 

Have you won any awards? Local or national, it doesn’t matter. List your achievements. 

The most important item – do you have a portfolio – and if you do, make sure you provide a link on the resume to the site.

Do you have an online portfolio? Most importantly, have a portfolio that is easily accessible to PR professional, travel agencies, tourism professionals, anyone that might possibly need to review your work.

There are many free websites. We have two active sites, one for our travel work and another for our professional photography (weddings, portraits, etc.). We use a pro account (approximately $90 per year) WEEBLY for everything travel (editorial, photography, media kit, etc.). Going PRO allows us to be a little more creative and have access to more things that fit our brand. We use WIX (approximately $85 a year for upgraded service) for our photography, allowing a simple and classic style to showcase our wedding and portrait portfolio. We also have a page dedicated to our travel photography which is where we send anyone interested in our travel work.

When choosing a site, make it a priority to get a service which doesn’t allow ‘right click’ to copy an image.

Know the technical side of photography so that you can highlight what it important to you and, more than likely, to someone looking for photos. If you don’t have an online portfolio, begin one today. A portfolio of your work is the truest way to stand out in a crowd.

Why you want Radio Credits on your Resume

~ Linda Kissam

Young woman sitting on stairs listening with earbuds

Have you thought about adding radio interview credits to your resume, website or IFWTWA profile? It’s a good way for people get to know you “off the page” so-to-speak. AM, FM or Internet radio adds a whole new dimension to how people interact with you and how you can bring your stories to life. When you have something important to share, which would you prefer to do? Show new, old and potential fans a photo, to write to them, or to talk with the intimacy and emotion of the human voice? Radio sells both you and your story.

Radio interviews are an effective way of communicating with targeted audiences that are likely to be interested in what you have to say. Choose a radio show that already has an audience that is hungry for what you have to say. You’ll increase your star power through this smart-marketing technique.

Big Blend LogoDo you know most radio interviews are now done from the comfort of your own home or office? Today’s technology allows you to call in on a cell, not just a land line. Some radio interviews are done live, some are pre-recorded.

Finally, if your interview is archived on a radio station’s web site, you can include a link to the interview podcast on your own site and you can then post that link on the social media sites you're active on. Both actions let you make your interview available to more people than just those who happened to tune in to listen when you are on the air.

Of course, none of these advantages really matter much if you can’t find a radio station who will host you. IFWTWA has the solution! One of greatest member benefits, is YOUR ability to book a segment on Big Blend Radio which has an audience of approximately three million. There is no charge and every advantage listed above is part of this benefit. See how other members took advantage of this opportunity

Contact our Big Blend Program Coordinator, [email protected] to make your pitch. For additional information look through the Big Blend pages on our website. And, if you'd like to volunteer to manager of this dynamic IFWTWA benefit, contact Adrianne.

Story Markets

~ Debbra Dunning Brouillette

Woman writing in journal with laptop nearby

Travel Awaits

Travel Awaits, a travel site dedicated to the 50+ adventure seeker, is looking to bring on some professional travel writers with experience writing for SEO. Ideal candidates will have experience writing for this demographic, and be able to follow the site’s tone and style guide. For now, pieces will be assigned, but they are open to taking pitches as well. Professional writing experience required. Include three links in your application, one being a reported piece and one being over 1,000 words. Pay ranges from $.10-.17/word depending on assignment. Each assignment will typically be between 1,000 - 3,000 words. Traffic numbers - January 2019: 650k visits

Email contact: [email protected]
Link to online application form:


Roadtrippers is the nation's fastest-growing web and mobile travel planning platform, with over 5.5 million trips booked to-date. Roadtrippers Magazine celebrates road culture, Americana, and the great outdoors through unique content covering "off the beaten path" places to visit. Roadtrippers seeks U.S. and Canada-focused stories based on first-hand experiences, as well as relevant news on road travel and road culture; original photography for features and profiles; interviews with unique characters; and stories on Americana and the great outdoors, i.e. national parks, Route 66, roadside attractions, abandoned places, camping, museums, and more. 

Find complete, updated guidelines here:  Pay typically ranges from $100 for simple news stories to $1000 for features. Contact Sanna Boman at [email protected] or send to [email protected]

World Footprints

World Footprints is a socially minded travel media company that bridges differences, fosters cultural intelligence, captures the essence of a destination, and inspires meaningful travel. We invite our readers to examine the cultural roots of a destination, to view a locale with a new mindset, and/or to explore travel through a specific interest or social cause. We seek to share stories that spark curiosity and shift points of view. Story pitches as well as articles written on speculation are welcomed. Articles should average between 800–1,200 words.

New content must fit within one of our four core areas: Compass (destination articles that offer unique perspectives); Travel by Design (special interest/niche travel); Cultural Heritage (the people and things that have influenced the personality of a destination); Global Citizenship (stories that focus on important global issues)

Find complete submission guidelines here:
Go to Contact Us and select Editor from the dropdown menu to send a pitch:

52 Perfect Days

52 Perfect Days is currently accepting submissions from writers and photographers for all locations. Whether this is your first submission or you’re a seasoned veteran, we welcome you. Previously published as well as original work is accepted. Although 52 Perfect Days does not currently pay for posts, the site represents an opportunity to receive additional exposure for your writing and showcase your travel adventures.

Contributions to 52 Perfect Days should focus on one perfect day. Submissions should offer a full day of activity including where to eat, go, and what to see, etc. Nightlife submission should offer a full evening of ideas. Submissions to the Food category is the only section that can stray from a full day of experiences and can either be submitted as a round up piece such as where to find the best pizza, tea, chocolate in town or as a full day of culinary delights.

Find complete guidelines here:
Email [email protected] with your story idea and a contributor account will be created for you.

The Travel 100

The Travel 100 publishes 100-word stories such as best pizza joint in Chicago, where to rent bikes in Denver, most amazing hotel to stay in when you see Machu Picchu, or favorite travel product to make long flights easier. Get the idea? Submit along with a horizontal photo 800 pixels wide, with photo credit if needed (no copyrighted photos) at this link:

If you have more to say about a destination or experience than you can cover in 100 words, submit an idea for a “100+ feature,” which can be considerably longer and include several photographs. For those pitches, contact Editor in Chief, Jan Schroder, [email protected]

Meet Marie-Annick Courtier ~
a book author, wellness & culinary coach, sommelier and member!

Marie-Annick Courtier surrounded by friends

Marie-Annick Courtier is a native of Paris, France, a Wellness and Culinary Coach, an Author and Sommelier. In her own words, Marie shares her story.

Concerned with the sufferance I witnessed in this country due to unhealthy eating habits, in early 2000, I decided to start a business that would promote scientifically sound nutrition and healthy lifestyle. It was a niche for sure and little did I know, how quickly my business would take off. Many of my clients had allergies, serious health issues, or simply wanted to be healthy. After a couple of years of positively changing lives, many of my clients urged me to share my knowledge and recipes.

I started writing, researching, and testing more recipes. A few months passed, before I felt ready to find a publisher. I sent my manuscript to a few publishing houses which they turned down. Not giving up, I continued to apply to more specific houses that would specialize in my field of interest. Finally, Hatherleigh Press, expressed interest in my work. I was told a world-class scientist was looking for a chef to co-author a book with him. Combining his latest nutrition findings and my culinary expertise, The Saint-Tropez Diet was published in 2005. As it became a best seller and my name continued to grow in the health and culinary industries. In fact, my publisher became more open to publish my own work. The Cooking Well Series was then born.  ... continued on the blog 

IFWTWA has an impressive array of Book Authors and Editors in our membership who focus their efforts on: Wine, Destination Travel, Cookbooks, Wellness and Culinary Arts, and so much more!  

If you are a member (in good standing), are a book author or editor and do not see your information on our published books page please feel free to submit your book/s so we can add you! 

Authors & Editors - Add your books to our virtual shelves 


Board Notes

~ by Linda Kissam

Laptop with coffee cup in front of a window with a lakeside view

Noreen Kompanik was voted in as our newest director. She will take over the Media Trips Committee Chair position. In the 4 1/2 years since she launched her travel writing career, she's had over 380 published stories for a multitude of print and digital publications and has been a guest speaker at the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Workshop four times on topics of travel writing success, queries, marketing for travel writers, and press trips.

Chris Cutler now serves as both Press Pass and FWT Magazine Chair.

Our numbers are up almost 20% for the FWT magazine over the last 30 days, although we are hitting 10-15,000 views per month. Most hits come from FB posts and the fewest from IG.

Before Beth resigned, she talked to Mary Chong and Chris Cutler (FWT Editor) about redesigning the FWT logo & website. Mary and Chris worked on the new logo and is under consideration for launch. Chris decided that we need to emphasize the FOOD, WINE, TRAVEL part of the name as that is our identity, & no one knows what FWT means unless he/she belongs to IFWTWA. The new logo will emphasizes that name.

A review of recent member requests to view minutes and financials was passed by legal counsel. It was confirmed that per CA law and our bylaws that members may review both upon request. Counsel advised that we set up a process where the person includes a formal written request sent to the board via [email protected] stating what documents are needed and the purpose of viewing such documents. That is in place now.

Requests will now be reviewed by legal counsel. The person making the request will be sent a letter from the Board acknowledging the request and notice that the first document requested will be sent free of charge. Counsel has shared that according to CA corporate law IFWTWA, like any other corporation, may charge a document viewing fee for financials and a document research and collation fee for minutes to offset staff time, and we should do so to pay for the overtime these large requests require. We will be charging $20 a document which is based on the time it takes paid staff to perform the tasks requested.

The board has received so many protests about the Members Only Facebook being taken over by complaints from a few members that they have come up with a few new rules to prevent this from happening again. Please go to the Members Only Facebook page to see the addition of rules that prevent harassment, bullying, name calling and inappropriate conversation. A forum on the IFWTWA Website has been set up for anyone to explore issues on their mind.

Planning for the annual IFWTWA Professional Development Conference is moving along nicely. Conference Chair Linda Milks along with mentor Allen Cox, Culinary Advisor Andrew Harris and pre/post conference trips volunteer Cori Solomon are planning an innovative, affordable program taking place in Nov 11-14, 2019 in Santa Fe, New Mexico. More details soon. Just know, this is going to be another wonderful event.

A new membership incentive program is happening in the month of March. Any IFWTWA member referring a brand new member who is then accepted and pays their membership fees in the month of March, will receive a $50 membership renewal credit per referral, up to five referrals. Contact our administrator for additional information.

Our Big Blend Radio program is booked through May, but you can still take advantage of this program by applying on our website or contacting [email protected].  More details about this resume building program can be seen in this month’s newsletter.

Both of our scholarship programs – one internal, one external – now have Chairs. Allen Cox will be Chairing the Journalism award, while Marie Courtier Annick will be chairing the Hospitality Education Scholarship Award. Both could use applicant reviewers. Both programs come up in the fall.

A new all-member media trip opportunity has been sent to members. The trip is to the Livermore/Tri-Valley area of CA and perfect for members who have strong domestic readership. Applications are due back to IFWTWA on March 4, 2019. See the media trip listing and application on the IFWTWA website.

We’re still looking for a Membership Chair. If that’s you, email [email protected]

Association Recognitions

Closeup partners clapping hands

It’s an honor to introduce you to our new members and to give recognition to members having anniversaries this month. We thank our new and anniversary members for including IFWTWA on their pathway to success. Your choice to work hard, think positive, network, and use your member benefits brings you to a whole new level of achievement. Way to go! 

5 years
Katherine Belarmino

5 years
Tricia High Conover

5 years
Denis Gagnon

* * * * *


IFWTWA Resources: Ways to Connect with Experts and Members

Friends toasting with wine glasses

Connect with fellow IFWTWA experts. Join Forums & create Social Circles on IFWTWA's website. Meet members in our private Facebook Members Group. Keep up-to-date and connect for retweets, "like" member's posts and follow each other, attend events, and volunteer to work with the board of directors and committees. Interact with your colleagues to enhance and grow your professional goals.  

IFWTWA Website

IFWTWA Members Facebook Group
Important and timely information posted daily
Job leads | media trips | social media help | writing opportunities 
Weekly social media share threads

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Official Magazine of IFWTWA


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Become a Regional Membership Coordinator 
Organize networking & local press trips & events


Media & Press Trips
Annual Conferences

Chris Cutler
Editor, Press Pass

IFWTWA | Murrieta, CA | 877-IFWTWA-9