Press trips are a method used by counties, governments, hotels, holiday resorts and even corporate businesses as a way to gain coverage, exposure and good publicity. It means creating a trip and an event that you can invite journalists on – often freelance travel writers – in order for them to then sell their stories subsequently. This is a great opportunity for both the business and the writer, but it’s important to consider how to do it right on both sides…
You own a hotel, or you are the governor of a big city or state. It is now your job to make sure that people hear of your location and that they will want to come and stay. This isn’t like a product launch though or a commercial service. You can’t use the same techniques to promote a hotel or a country that you might use to sell chips or computer games. So how do you handle your public relations, get people talking about your business and generally craft your public relations?
One option is to use a press trip. A press trip is essentially an event wherein a member of the press or any journalist will visit a location and then write about it. In this post, we will look at what this means for business owners and organizations, as well as what it means for journalists.
Organizing a Press Trip
If you’re organizing a press trip to try and get more exposure for your country, your state or your business, then you need to consider a number of different factors and make sure you organize it properly.
Here are some important tips to help you get started:
- Design the event well. Think about what will make a good story while at the same time making it a treat for the journalists. Journalists don’t want to go on horrible trips just for work – think about why they became travel writers in the first place! To have great experiences and get paid to have them! Likewise, think about what is going to make your company, hotel, destination get shown in the best light. Provide photo opportunities. But at the same time, don’t make it too transparent. If it seems you’re trying to hide something or present a false story, the journalists there will smell it and they will often react badly. Writers are clever and they tend to be rather observant. Show the best side of your country or business – don’t try to hide the truth. There is a difference.
- Invite via email. Make sure that you include the precise date and time, as well as the location. Ensure that you have a collection of contacts that you can use. If you don’t, discuss with a public relations agency, or try looking on LinkedIn/elsewhere to obtain them. Invite both the staff writers from the relevant media, as well as freelance journalists who will write about their experiences and then try to sell those stories. You will often have better luck with these kinds of freelancers.
- Make sure that you are highly specific in the explanation. When describing the event or the trip, make sure that you include exactly what will be happening. If this is a cycling trip through the mountains in your local area, then make sure that you include this detail so that the journalists know precisely what they are letting themselves in for. If this is a surprise, then it can lead to problems including bad accidents, or people being unable to take part. Let them know what is included and what isn’t – that means letting them know about accommodation.
- If your press trip is a corporate event such as a launch event or prebrief that just so happens to be abroad, make sure you think about the location. First of all for corporate events you will need to ensure that there is plenty of room for your attendees and for what you have planned. This will depend on several factors, such as how many visitors will be coming to your event. Make sure you know what the numbers are, and then be sure that the place you choose is large enough. You will also need to provide the venue with this information anyway if they are to provide catering. Bear in mind that you might also need extra space if you are going to have a practical element to your corporate events. For instance, if there are going to be team building exercises that involve elements such as climbing through ropes etc., then you need to make sure that there's enough space for staff to get up and do this. Many venues will have space for this, but if not find out if there are outside grounds you can make use of for these activities.
- Finally you will want to find out about catering – whether this is provided by the room if you are using one and what is available. In some cases, you may wish to use a different catering service, or you may not need food at all on the day, but if you should need catering then you will need to enquire and ensure that this is an option. If your press trip is going to involve cycling through the mountains, then make sure there will be stops along the way so that your guests can eat! Angry, hungry journalists don’t tend to write positive exposes! This also makes it very important that you get information from the guests regarding their diet, allergies etc.
How to Become a Travel Writer
If you're going travelling for more than a week and you're going somewhere particularly interesting and remote, then setting up a blog is a great way to let people know what you're doing, to avoid going crazy from solitude, and to keep a log of your journey which can make a great souvenir at the end of it.
This is also an exciting way to enter the world of the travel writer. Travel writing means writing about travels and then finding an audience for that writing. The idea is to go on trips, write an engaging or useful story about it, and then try to sell it to media. Creating a blog is a good first step as it will serve as a way for you to showcase your work and demonstrate your writing style. And in this day and age, if you can create a social media following, then this will significantly increase your likelihood of getting published and finding buyers. It will also allow you to increase your rates, so that you can make more money from the trips.
At the same time though, creating a blog can be tricky work if you've never done it before and may be somewhat daunting. Here we will look at how to go about creating a travel blog, how to make it shine, and how to ensure it will help you to get work.
Choosing Your Blogging Platform
The first thing to do is to choose a blogging platform, in which case you have three main choices: Blogger, WordPress or LiveJournal. Of the three Blogger is the easiest to use and set up, though if you use a blog hosted on WordPress things are still pretty simple while affording you more flexibility. If you have hopes for this blog beyond your single journey and would like to create a 'travel blog' that you write on regularly, then you might want to consider hosting the blog yourself as that way you can expand however much you want without ads (you can still use WordPress in this case, but you'll have to download the install package from the site).
How to Make it Shine
Now you have to decide how you're going to set your blog apart from the others and make it read-worthy. First of all, decide on a tone for your blog - and here a good tone is always a humorous one as that avoids you coming off as pretentious or bragging.
As you travel then, try to keep a note of all the amusing and interesting things that happen to you. This doesn't mean writing about how incredible the pyramids looked necessarily - it might just mean writing about an amusing encounter you had with the staff at the airport. Things like this that work the 'fish out of water' angle, and that people can relate to will get the biggest laughs and bring people back to your blog on a more regular basis.
Likewise, look for tips, look for advice and look for anything that can help your audience to better enjoy their own trips to this place. This will often be the kind of content that publishers and media outlets are looking for. That’s especially true in the case of something like a
Another tip is to write regularly - if people check back for a few days in a row and find your site hasn't been updated then they'll often just give up. Try to keep your blog entries relatively short (if you ramble on people won't have time to read them) but be consistent with your posting. Of course, you don't want this to eat into your experiences, so pick a time you're going to write - such as in the evenings before bed. There are many apps available for Android or iOS that can make the whole process quicker too.
It’s a very good idea to invest in a good camera and to spend some time developing your skills as a photographer. That means learning how to frame a shot, how to create the best composition and which manual settings to use. This is so important because it is what will allow you to sell a complete package that is ready for publishing, rather than just a short written article.
So now you have your travel blog, how do you go from doing this to earning a living as a travel writer? The first thing avenue is to simply start trying to sell your posts to the bigger travel sites, magazines and publishers. Consider popular options like Lonely Planet and other guidebooks that can publish travel writing. Likewise, look for magazines. Try to see the kind of stuff that they publish and write in a similar tone and format to that so that you can be successful.
Another tip is to look for press trips. You will find these being organized by a range of different organizations, counties, states, hospitality businesses and more. If you visit state and country websites, you’ll often find details. These are designed to help provide stories for you to write and sell, which in turn help gain them more positive publicity. It’s a beneficial situation all around, because that will likewise provide you with more stories to sell.
Likewise, you need to keep promoting your own blog and work. This way, you may get invited to press trips, to launch parties and to other events that you can cover. You might also find you get approached by travel sites and magazines and asked to go on particular trips. If you get really good, they will even pay up front meaning you’ll have the money for the trip!
Note that you will also need to arrange a few things prior to setting out as a travel writer. It is essential that you have insurance for instance to cover you on press trips, or most organizations won’t allow you to attend. Likewise, you should of course ensure you have necessary jabs, visas and clearance.