In this month’s Freelance Friday, the spotlight is on Matt Meltzer, Miami editor for Thrillist. He is also the senior editor for Miami411.com and assistant professor of Business Writing at his alma mater, the University of Miami. He occasionally writes for Condé Nast Traveler and Cruise Critic. Prior to his journalism career, Matt had quite a diverse background. A veteran of the U.S. Marine Corps, two-time finisher of the grueling Ironman triathlons, foodie and even former pageant judge, Meltzer is always on the prowl for a good time to share.
Q: How long have you been writing for Thrillist? What are your favorite type of stories to cover?
I’ve been writing for Thrillist since 2013. I enjoy covering stories about the unexpected parts of places. If I told you Monaco was one of the more affordable destinations in Europe, or one of the artsiest, most accepting places I went last year was in Mississippi, you’d probably suggest I go back to writing vitamin newsletters. I think when my story about how Sacramento is the Modena of America goes live I might get Baker acted. But that’s the point: When you travel, you learn this stuff.
Q: As a part-time professor, what is something you incorporate into your teaching based on your first-hand knowledge as a well-published writer?
The importance of relationships. Like the publicists I can call or text and get instant information from, those are the ones I’ll cover the most when their clients fit a story. On the other hand, if it’s a cold pitch it’s going to have to have an onion-esque subject line or some offer like “Our airline is offering free flights to Hawaii with prime rib dinners and a hula lesson!” to stand out. So, ya know, take an hour and buy a guy a Frappuccino, it’s never a bad investment.
Q: What is the best pitch you have ever received? Why did it stick out?
I got a pitch for a Brother Jimmy’s take-out window in Miami that had the subject line “Quickie BJs in the Back!” I would never have thought to do a story on a local barbecue joint having a new takeout window, but you KNOW I opened that e-mail (shocked it made it through my Spam filter). And we ended up doing a full feature on it. That publicist definitely knew her audience, and it worked.
Q: What is something unique you do while at a destination/resort?
I collect brewery stickers on my laptop. I don’t know that its “fun” so much as it is a way to get people to say “Oh, do you like beer?” Never gets me a free one though so maybe I need a new hobby.
Q: Do you have a favorite press trip experience? Why was it memorable?
That’s like asking Santa to name his favorite reindeer…I’d say it’s between rounding up buffalo in South Dakota and going all Dances with Wolves from the back of a pickup truck, and the private jet flight we took from Boca Raton to Sarasota with Opal resorts. The latter included champagne and donuts, and was so memorable I ended up officiating the wedding of one of the publicists.
Q: How many times a year do you travel? How far in advance do you prefer to make travel arrangements?
I travel for work 15-20 times a year. I like to plan stuff a few months in advance. Rarely can I make a last-minute trip invite, even though some of them sound way better, and would produce better stories, than whatever I have planned.
Q: What is your top pitching pet peeve?
Pitching me stuff I don’t cover, and, honestly, that I don’t think anyone would cover. PR is tough, I get it, but I’ve never read a story about a hotel renovation or a new brunch menu. That, and people who think I live in New York. That’s just patently offensive.
Q: What does a good pitch include?
All the information I need to craft a good pitch myself to editors.
Matt, it’s always a pleasure working with you. Your signature wit and c’est la vie keep us wanting more. We can’t wait to follow along on your next adventure!
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