A former ad agency executive, Teresa Rodriguez Williamson launched Tango Diva in 2003 to "equip women with tools that give them the confidence to travel alone."
In addition to writing, researching, and overseeing the site's San Francisco-based editorial team, she recently completed her first hard-copy travel guide, Fly Solo: 50 Best Places on Earth for a Girl to Travel Alone, set for a February 2007 release.
PRWeek: What's the concept behind Tango Diva?
Teresa Rodriguez Williamson: My whole goal with Tango Diva is to give women the tools to empower themselves through travel. Go experience culture, go experience a new language and new food, and bring that back home.
PRWeek: Why a Web site instead of a book, or a magazine?
Williamson: I really always wanted to write a travel book for women. But I was taking some courses at Stanford, and one of my professors said, "Great idea but guess what? Everybody wants to write a book; there's a manuscript for every person in the United States. Put together a business plan that includes different media, and a Web site should be one of them. Grow a community of women so when you write this book, there will be women to buy it." So that's what I did.
PRWeek: How do women usually find out about Tango Diva?
Williamson: We have not done any advertising. It has all been word of mouth and also media. I truly believe that if you are doing something you're supposed to be doing, people will find out about you. So the growth has been completely organic.
PRWeek: Have you built relationships with businesses or corporations looking to reach
this same group of women?
Williamson: I have always wanted to have an [editorially] pure Web site, so the way we make our money is through strategy. We get called by corporations in the travel industry - and lifestyle, as well - who are trying to reach this market, women 32 to 64, median age about 42, women making over $50,000 a year who like to travel or are dreaming about traveling.
So corporations come to us and say, "We want to figure out what makes these women tick. We want to know why they pick up the phone and book a trip, what credit cards they use."
So what we do is, we do a lot of behavioral and attitudinal studies; all our research is online, all open-ended questions. We focus on a question - whatever the question our client wants to have answered - and with the answers, we create strategies that they can implement in their marketing. So there's no need for advertising, and women get pure content.
PRWeek: Do you hear from a lot of PR professionals, pitching you various getaway ideas?
Williamson: I get inundated with emails from PR people pitching me story ideas. I hear from a minimum of 50 a day, an average of 50 to 100 emails a day, depending on what's happening.
PRWeek: Do you have any advice for PR pros who are interested in connecting with Tango Diva?
Williamson: Don't send me stories about family vacations or romantic getaways. Just don't. We need information, but we only need the right information.
Take the road less traveled when you're pitching ideas. I don't care if your city has the most five-star hotels in your state. What I'm interested in is soul and emotion and memories.
As a writer, my job is to take my reader someplace, a little journey that they can't go on without my help. And on this little magic carpet ride that we call an article, I need to conjure up specific emotions, so they are going to want to go visit this place. Don't tell me how your client just refurbished and got new sheets. What I want to know about is soul, emotion. For example, in Berlin, there's this Communist bar underneath a train station that serves absinthe. As long as there's a comrade on duty, the bar is open. There are pictures of Stalin and Lennon - that's the stuff that conjures up a great adventure. Five, "help me help you."
We're dealing with hundreds of articles every week. So give me access to user-friendly Web sites where I can download information. Give me a nice press section, a place I can really easily navigate. And take responsibility, fact check. I can't just throw stuff on my Web site or in a book that has not been confirmed. If you're a PR firm, make sure your client's information is right. And if one of my ideas isn't really on target, and you have a better idea? Give it to me, I'm totally willing to take it. Remind me who your clients are, because I'm getting inundated. But when you email me, keep it short; just give me the highlights of what's going on. For example, there's this vintage store in Miami - it's 10,000 square feet, [one of] the largest in the country. I kept getting pinged by the PR lady for it, but there was never a right time for me to write about it. But she kept sending me things, and a few months later I was on my way to South Beach and I had her e-mail. So I was like, "Hey, I'm coming to town - can I meet with you?"
Name: Teresa Rodriguez Williamson
Outlet: Tango Diva
Preferred contact method: firstname.lastname@example.org
Web site: www.tangodiva.com