One of the most sought after assignments for a travel blogger is to go on a press trip.
Of course we love to travel!
However, it is not all just fun and games, there is a lot of work that goes into a productive and successful press trip.
Press trips are not just an all expenses paid vacation. They require a lot of professionalism and work on a blogger’s behalf.
Press Trips should always be about value and authenticity
We strive to make our relationships with tourist boards, travel companies, and our readers win-win-win.
We want to do the best job possible and provide value to the brand, AND provide valuable insight and information to our readers about our destination experience.
We have been on several press trips this past year, the most notable being the Qantas Great Crusade.
We have also had a five day tour of Rotorua and Auckland hosted by Tourism New Zealand while we spoke on their behalf about blogging at the Australian Travel Writers Convention.
We have also been guests a couple of times with Gold Coast Tourism and will be back up there with them in December.
It’s not difficult to get re-assigned again to work with agencies and tourist boards. You just have to show them that you are professional, valuable, and are low risk, which is not the usual attitude some companies have towards bloggers.
And with good reason.
I have heard horror stories.
Getting too drunk and hungover to attend arranged tours, taking the freebie and running with no promotion or content supplied, written content that could have been taken from the pages of returned Google Searches, abuse of tour guides….
Ahhh, all stuff that makes me cringe.
It makes me mad, because it is not fair on the host companies who show faith in you and are going out on a limb to have you promote their destination and are looking for some ROI- fair enough, right?
In the eyes of tourism boards it gives our industry a bad name. A few bad apples can spoil the bunch.
It’s not fair to all those bloggers who are willing to attend press trips and will be professional and provide value, but could find it difficult because of bad past PR/blogging relationships.
And it’s certainly not good in the eyes of your readers who look to you as a credible resource.
We speak a lot of blogging/PR relationships and are advocating for some worthwhile partnerships between the two. We have appeared on a couple of panels talking about it in Australia and it is exciting to see the potential we are all a part of.
But we need to work together to make it valuable for all: the bloggers, the tourist boards, and most of all the readers. If we don’t, then the opportunities will diminish.
- Do NOT EVER take a press trip if you DON’T think you can provide value and highlight the destination. This is unprofessional. Pass it on to someone else. You don’t deserve this just because you are a blogger with X amount of followers, you earn it by providing value.
- Do your research before you go and plan potential articles, photos, and story angles…
- Be authentic and honest with what you write. If you don’t like something you can say it, just don’t be mean and nasty about it.
- Find out what is provided for you and what is not. Be clear on your expectations. If they are focused on having social media play a large role, make sure reliable internet access is provided.
- If they want blog posts published during the trip, then enough free work time is needed to get these out.
- Understand the objectives that the brand is trying to achieve whilst ensuring that your content is relevant and engaging to your reader. Qantas were impressed with how we managed to do this on the Great Crusade and wrote us a glowing reference as a result.
- During the trip take notes, lots of photos, and provide live status updates and photos via your online social media channels.
- Follow up after the press trip. Provide stats on number of posts, page views, comments and social media love.
- Ask for a reference or testimonial once the press trip is finished. This can be very helpful for you later when securing further partnership work.
- Ask your readers what they would like to learn about the destination? What information would be most important to them when considering taking a trip there? Accommodation options, eating options, transport, entertainment, costs?
Brands/ PR/ Tourism Boards
- Where possible, please have internet available to your bloggers. This usually will have to be wireless access for laptops, and local sim cards for smart phones. You have invited the blogger on a trip in order for them to promote and expose your destination. If we can’t get online we can’t do our job. If you want live exposure internet is a priority.
- Blogger outreach is not about checking it off your list to say you are doing it. It can be a valuable way to let others in the travel community know about your destination or product. You want it to be a valuable and worthwhile exercise. Therefore, it is up to you to do thorough research before you invite bloggers on the trip, otherwise it could fail and you will say Blogger Outreach does not work, which is untrue. It is not just about how many followers someone has or their klout score. It is more about the engagement and interaction they have with their community and the quality of their work. What other press trips have they been on before? Ask for references? Are they relevant? Are they professional? Are they going to highlight your destination or are they going to write one post with information they could have gleaned off the internet without even visiting the destination? Do your research.
- You really need to cover the majority of costs for the blogger. Airfare, accommodation, and transport at least. Bloggers don’t get paid by giant publishing houses, they are not going to be inspired to come if it is going to widen the holes in their pockets.
- Let the blogger know your expectation before the trip. What are your objectives? What do you want the blogger to do? How many posts? Social media expectations etc?
- Let the blogger know of any hashtags, twitter handles or facebook pages you would like tagged and promoted.
- To improve the power of the press trip, consider running special sales or deals in conjunction with the press trip that the blogger can link to and promote for your destination and offer to their readers.
- Give the blogger some sort of giveaway for their readers – this will help involve the readers and keep them interested in learning more about the destination.
- When planning the itinerary allow for some downtime for the blogger so they can gather their thoughts and write a post.
- Keep the blogger informed if there is a change of plans, allow for some flexibility. If things go wrong, don’t sweat it , things happen.
HELP US, HELP YOU
This is so important. Whatever your blogger does to promote your destination, help them out by promoting it through YOUR OWN channels.
Put their blog post on your fanpage, re-tweet it, comment on it, stumble it, and mention or link to it on your website.
This will only help you in so many ways. This is you letting your community know what someone else is saying about your brand, destination or product. A fresh voice amongst the white noise. It provides second hand validation.
- If you know your favourite blogger is going on a press trip, don’t be shy to let them know what it is you would like to know more about. After all, this is about information and inspiration for you.
- Support your blogger by commenting or just giving a thumbs up for their work. The cost of the press trip might be covered, but they receive no monetary compensation for it, and a lot of the time they are attending in order to get more content for you.
- Offer your blogger some tips and suggestions if you have already been there. Craig was looking for a good coffee shop when he was in Wellington, he sent out a tweet and several readers tweeted back and sent him to a really cool cafe in Cuba Street called Fidel’s. You can become part of the experience as well.
- Please don’t dump on your blogger and say they are selling out or just trying to get free travel. Bloggers work an incredible amount of unpaid hours to provide helpful, informative and inspirational information. A press trip is another way for them to do this, without worrying about the expense. It is a small reward for the massive effort they put into what they do. Press trips can also mean being away for extended periods from family and their main income source (job). Nobody should expect anybody to work for free.