Newsrooms are nearly nonexistent. Sure, it’s an added challenge to any PR pro’s day, but imagine the freelancer who’s trying to concentrate on quality writing while having to hustle their stories – all day, every day. To show our love for these dynamic free agents who are on this crazy (and rewarding) ride along with us, MP&A Digital & Advertising introduces #FreelanceFriday. In this new monthly series, we’ve turned the tables on these leaders of the pack. Discover their own intriguing stories.
First up is Steve Bennett Co-Founder and Editorial Director of Uncommon Caribbean. Steve, and his brother Patrick are changing the way people think about traveling to the Caribbean. Growing up in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, ultimately lead Steve to show his readers the Caribbean’s authentic aspects and unique heritage. Steve is also a contributor to AFAR, Thrillist, LargeUp, About.com and TimeOut NY. Prior to becoming a full-time writer, Steve worked in public relations, so he understands the struggles of researching writers and securing media coverage.
Q: What inspired you to start Uncommon Caribbean?
In recent years, as editorial pages devoted to travel in consumer newspapers and magazines shrunk, in-depth coverage of real, authentic Caribbean experiences became scarce. My home region’s charms were being reduced to click-bait “listicles” that did little to stimulate the new wave of adventurous, culturally-curious millennial travelers. A good percentage of whom were already desensitized to the Caribbean’s exotic wonders and authenticity after too many “Ground Hog Day” cruise vacations or family trips to the same all-inclusive resort each year. We aim to change the game; to re-invent the way people look at Caribbean travel by showing them how to experience the region like a local.
Q: What is a fun fact about you?
The first thing I do when I get to the beach, is step out to the water’s edge, cup a small handful of water to my lips and drink a sip. I’ve done this for as long as I can remember, even going back to my childhood days island-hopping across the Caribbean to compete in swim meets. I guess it’s become a bit of a spiritual thing for me, the drink connecting me with the destination I’m visiting… at least in my mind, anyway.
Q: What is your favorite destination and why?
As a Crucian native, born and raised in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, I can honestly say there’s no place like home (clicks heels together). Sail out to Buck Island with my friend Captain Carl, sit down for real island eats at Villa Morales or The Chicken Shack, hike to Jack and Isaac Bay, ride horses through the rainforest, savor our award-winning Cruzan Rum. Do this and you will see how St. Croix gets under your skin like nowhere else.
Q: When traveling around the Caribbean what excites you most?
Uncommon travel is, at its core, all about the people you meet along your travels throughout the islands; locals that share with you their traditions, favorite bars, cuisine, rum, etc. I’ve been lucky enough to make travel friends that have become more like family, especially in Providenciales, Nevis, Martinique, and French St. Martin. My friends become our readers’ friends, enriching their experiences in the Caribbean in ways they couldn’t access anywhere else.
Q: What is your ideal pitch?
Anything authentically West Indian always works for us. If it’s a bit unusual, like eating iguana in Guyana, ice skating in Puerto Rico (yes, this is a thing!) or hiking to a secret mountain top cave in Dominica where Kalinago Indians used to commune with a snake god, that’s all good, too.
Q: What is the worst pitch you have ever received?
“Our hotel has a new chef” pitches usually qualify… unless, of course, that new chef is doing something inventive with Caribbean cuisine.
Q: If you weren’t a writer, what would you do?
I guess I’d return to my full-time day job in PR or become a bartender on a beach back home in St. Croix. What better way could there be to continue meeting new people and sharing the best of the Caribbean?
Steve, it’s a pleasure to have you as our first #FreelanceFriday featured writer. Your commitment to showcasing the natural beauty, undiscovered stories and heartfelt people of the Caribbean make many of us fans of your work. Cheers to many more uncommon Caribbean experiences to come!
We hope you enjoyed the first Freelance Friday. If there’s someone you’d like to see featured or just want to say hello, e-mail Erica Hammett at firstname.lastname@example.org. Stay updated by subscribing to our blog and following us on Instagram and Twitter @MPA_Marketing. Happy pitching!