Top Tips for Planning a Press Trip

January 15, 2014

This article originally appeared in the TMAC Travels Newsletter for November/December.

 An inside look from PR professionals.

TMAC

A successful press visit, by definition, is one in which both the industry and media members are happy with the outcomes. This is best accomplished when both sides work together with an understanding of what the other needs in order to be “happy.” The way to maximize that understanding is to see both sides of the equation. Here’s the industry side.

Behind the scenes: Inside the planning process

Planning a press visit, either group or individual, starts with a theme. Themes are generally based on our key messages or new experiences or attractions.

For groups we then select dates.  Dates are the trickiest part of planning any trip. We know that writers are busy both writing and travelling as well as attending conferences and events. We try our best to avoid major calendar conflicts.

We next outline our “wish list” itinerary. We seek those experiences that will best show off what we have to offer – as well as those we think you will enjoy the most. Know that when we create itineraries we aim to ensure that every included activity has been vetted for quality and sometimes we need you to have faith that they will pleasantly surprise you.

In order for industry members to maximize our shrinking budgets, we are very often working in
partnership with destinations, hotels, restaurants and attractions to accommodate the itinerary. That is one reality of this business.

A method to the madness: Inviting and confirming media

In order to understand how industry members evaluate and manage press visits there are a few key terms to understand.

Qualified publications vary by destination/hotel/attraction and are generally defined as those publications which reach the target demographic for the destination/hotel/attraction. For example, for a destination/hotel/attraction targeting baby boomers, Zoomer could be a qualified publication; or for a destination targeting families, Canadian Family is a good fit.

Most press trips require either a confirmed assignment from a qualified publication or a proven relationship with such outlets whereby an assignment is likely to result.

Many times we invite writers with whom we’ve worked before. We know more about your background, the great work you have done both about our clients and in general. Having said that, we are open to working with new contacts.

If we have not worked with you before we have done our homework to see what articles you have recently written even though we  recognize that this does not always translate into an indepth understanding of your interests. Your feedback, even if you are unable to participate in a specific trip, is greatly appreciated so we can note more about your interests for future reference.

Give and take: What we need from media

It’s important to understand that we work with a number of partners to make the trip possible and we have a responsibility to them as well as to you as a writer–we have included them because we think they will be of interest to you. We understand if you can’t always mention everyone in every story but we love it when you’re courteous and engaged while you are with them. With that said, please be up front with us about what you will and will not be able to include in coverage or pitch to editors so we can manage expectations accordingly. It’s also great when you let us know when and where you expect coverage to run.

Pet peeves

The number one pet peeve of industry members when it comes to press trips has to be late date special requests or suggested changes to the itinerary. While we recognize your needs and desires we can always work together more effectively when we get your feedback well in advance. And you can be assured that we will do everything possible to accommodate those needs.

Because we are measured on results, when media do not send notice on published coverage or updates to status of coverage it makes us look bad. We don’t want to pester you, but it is important for us to track coverage to show return on investment to our bosses and our partners. We understand that many times coverage lead time is long, please just keep us up to date on status or changes and let us know when it does appear. It’s even worse when we have worked together on an article and someone else sees and shares it before us.

The last pet peeve on the industry side happens more often than you would think: last-minute cancellations. We’re all human and things happen but it’s both stressful and reputation damaging on our end. Please don’t cancel the day before the trip.

Win-Win

There are always two sides to every transaction and our goal is to ensure that the trip is a win-win proposal. Working together, understanding the needs and pressures on the industry side when planning a press trip is the surest way to make that happen, to paving the way for both a positive experience and great editorial.

Written by Maureen Haley

Maureen joined DCI from a Miami-based lifestyle marketing firm in 2009, and in 2011 was named Regional Director for DCI’s Canada office. A specialist in promoting destinations to consumers both in the United States and Canada, Maureen has her finger on the pulse of the tactics that generate editorial coverage and motivate consumer purchasing decisions.

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