Sex, Social Media and New Zealand — (Part 1)
Travel writing in the age of blogs, twitter — and when ‘viral’ is desirable. A veteran print journalist and editor — turned online writer, blogger and social media buff — embarks on a real-life travel writing-cum-social media project and invites you along for the ride. Tips, hints, pitfalls to avoid, good practices to aspire to, facts, fallacies and all the write stuff.
By Wanda Hennig
The invitation in my inbox read:
“Dear Wanda — Love is in the air at Air New Zealand as the airline prepares for the world’s first Matchmaking Flight. On October 13, an estimated 100 singles will journey from Los Angeles to Auckland, each with the hope of finding a match in air, or on the other side of the Pacific. On behalf of Air New Zealand, I’d love to invite you or another Wandalust blogger on board the flight to bear witness to the matchmaking, successes and disasters alike.”
It invited me to upload my profile on the dedicated Matchmaking Flight website (where I saw the tagline: How far will you go to find The One?). And it said “additional itineraries” in New Zealand could be arranged, by which I gathered that if I went, I’d be able to write about more than matchmaking.
I may as well reveal this right off. I had never watched The Bachelor and didn’t have a clue who Jason Mesnick was. In the unlikely event that you don’t know who he is, and I say that because most people seem to know and to have strong views on some of his Bachelor escapades, here are some links:
From The Hollywood Gossip
From Huffington Post (with video — Jason Mesnick on Jimmy Kimmel in March 2009)
And links to Molly Malaney:
From The Hollywood Gossip
From the Molly Malaney website
From ABC Good Morning America (July 2009 video interview, Jason and Molly)
It’s a good idea to know something about someone ahead of time if you’re going to write about them. This might seem obvious but I’ve known experienced journalists who don’t bother.
As I say, I hadn’t heard of Mesnick — and neither had I planned to go to New Zealand. But the latter was simply because it seemed so far away. I must know a couple of dozen people who moved to New Zealand from South Africa. My old karate teacher, two or three former journalist colleagues, my ex-boyfriend’s brother — a bunch of folks.
And of course they have all those sheep jokes. [You know? Two New Zealand sheep farmers are flying the flock to a new farm. Suddenly, the engine fails and the plane goes into freefall. Farmer One: “Quick! Grab a parachute and jump!” Farmer Two: “What about the sheep?” Farmer One: “Bugger the sheep.” Farmer Two: (pause) “Do you think we have time?”]
And the Maori haka.
And the Lord of the Rings scenery.
And did you see the New Zealand Prime Minister John Key on Letterman?
Around 10 days later I was confirmed on the flight along with, I was told, 100 or so singles flying solo and looking for love.
I was going with a commission for a story from a print publication (a newspaper travel section).
But my main commitment, as a veteran print journalist and travel writer who has spent much of 2009 transitioning to the web, doing classes and workshops on blogging and social media, creating this website, taking on two examiner.com online gigs, and recently, moving into social media consulting and coaching, is to use this trip as a hands-on online travel-writing and social-media-in-action learning exercise (I hope useful for others as well as myself).
On this site (WandaLUST), my intention is to continue to a Part 2, 3, 4, 5, etcetera, of Sex, Social Media and New Zealand, giving travel writing tips, hints, pitfalls to avoid, behind-the-scenes background, good practices to aspire to, facts, fallacies and all the write stuff. And where relevant, comparisons between print and online writing. There is a lot that’s transferable.
And meanwhile, I will write about the trip (Food, Play, Love — New Zealand) on examiner.com.
Questions and comments welcome!