News & Views

International Press Trip Hosting 101: Tips for Success

Hosting an international press trip is a great way to extend your reach to a global audience by getting in front of the foreign media and showcasing all that’s happening in your community – without having to endure airport lines, long-haul flights and jet leg.

What’s more, journalists (or correspondents) from international media outlets are often based in media-centric North American cities including New York, Toronto and Washington, D.C. – so they may be closer than you think.

You’ve heard from two of our media experts about best practices for executing successful economic development and tourism press trips, and you can also apply those practices to an international press trip.

When you host a group of journalists from the foreign media, there are a few other things you should keep in mind to ensure that your guests – and your community – don’t get lost in translation.

Here are a few best practices for hosting an international press trip:

Choose a newsworthy story-line:

Just like U.S. media want to cover something that’s interesting, timely and unique, international media are looking for storylines that have importance in their home country – something that their outlet’s audience cares about.

Identify one country where you have strong economic ties and build an invitation, media list and itinerary that marries your region to that country. The focused group and objective will allow you to create a schedule that highlights relevant key messages and makes the best use of everyone’s time.

If you’ve seen an influx in German companies locating to your region recently, consider targeting German outlets. Or, if China is a top trading partner, and there’s news to share related to doing business in China (a Chinese-based company has recently built a North American headquarters in your region, perhaps), then targeting China might be a good fit.

Make sure the timing is right:

Timing an international press trip can be complicated because you have to factor in holidays, political affairs and other events that could pose scheduling challenges for two countries. Before you lock in a date for the trip, double check the calendar for the following types of events:

  • Political transitions, such as elections and campaigns
  • Religious events
  • Holidays

Address language barriers:

The language factor can be a bit tricky. As the meeting organizer and facilitator, you may want to elect a language you’re comfortable with so you can stay in tune with discussions and keep the group on task; however, you should also ensure that all journalists are able to comfortably interpret and digest information they need to write a story.

Reach out to participating businesses, community spokespeople and journalists in advance of the trip to find a common language, and then encourage all participants to use it during meetings, presentations, tours and meals.

Note also that English is generally spoken by the majority of correspondents in the U.S., and it’s often recommended to host these tours in English, while acknowledging that journalists may flow into their first-language during meals and non-business meeting portions of the trip.

Understand the audience you’re trying to reach:

Communication styles, social norms and hierarchies vary from culture to culture. While some journalists from the foreign media may be well-versed with your community, others may be visiting for the first time, so it’s still important to anticipate cultural differences during the trip – even if they’re minor.

Find a credible resource; whether it be a colleague, online source or local expert, and learn as much as you can about customs and professional practices of the country at hand to address any differences at the front end and avoid social blunders. Consider norms such as greetings, exchanges, concept of time, and other rules and boundaries in day-to-day business etiquette.

Journalist backgrounds aside, it’s important to remember the audience you’re hoping to reach is foreign and adapt your key messages accordingly. As a general rule of thumb, “one size does not fit all.”

What’s your experience hosting an international press trip? Leave a comment below with any tips and tricks you have!

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