The Power of Press Trips

When it comes to selling a location or business, sometimes the old methods are the best. Press trips have long been a staple of promotion to the press.  However, their changing nature means now they cater to bloggers and online journalists too.

What is a press trip?

This might seem obvious, but unless you’ve worked in journalism or been on a press trip previously then you might not have the first clue about how they work.

The old image of a press trip is the press junket. This was a rabble of journalists all bundled together in a large group who were taken round attractions and points of interest to provide direct experience for stories or articles. These days, that method is old hat. Journalists, bloggers and social media influencers prefer instead to be taken round at their leisure and their adventures are often self-led. The organiser of a press trip often gives an itinerary or guide and leaves the visiting writer time to absorb the location at their leisure.

 Nowadays participants on press trips often demand to take part in at least five or six activities a day, including meals and comfort breaks. The reward for all this organisation? Coverage in newspapers, magazines, in blogs, on websites and increasingly, on social media.

Why should I take part?

The expense of a press trip can be a stumbling block for many businesses who could benefit from them, but there’s a reason they are still used today. They are still the best way for a writer, photographer or blogger to familiarise themselves with your attraction. This can range from a hotel or resort to a visitor attraction or geographical area. Nothing beats up close and personal experience.

The idea that you can live the experience, take in the surroundings, taste the local food and feel the atmosphere of a place and all that comes with it is invaluable. Writing is more informed, photos match the gushing descriptions and videos taken are in the moment. Articles with stock photography are fine; however, when these photos appear across the media, the authenticity of coverage becomes compromised.  

Press trips also provide excellent return on investment, as often content will be used endlessly on blogs and in publications for other articles. This means that you don’t just get one article, but rather several over time.

A blogger may well include several social media posts, write an article and produce a video on several different platforms. As a result, your attraction or business will be seen by several different audiences.

How do I get involved?

While the concept of organising a press trip seems daunting, you can get started relatively easily if you have the time to spare.

One way of starting is to get in touch with your regional DMO (Destination Management Organisation). At Shooting Star we work with Visit Lincoln, Love Lincolnshire Wolds and other third parties to come up with exciting reasons to visit the regions we look after for clients, but every area you can care to think of will have similar outfits designed to promote the area in which you are located.

Being proactive and offering your services as much as possible goes a long way. Research your target publications and seek out blogs that cover similar subjects and engage with them. Become known in the industry for being helpful and willing to accommodate and guide visitors and this will pay dividends over time.

Getting the most out of it

It’s easy to think that once a journalist or blogger has booked in, your job is over. Nothing could be further from the truth! Make yourself indispensable, offer your time if people need it, be as helpful as you can and make that first impression count. Some visitors will welcome a guiding hand, others will be glad never to meet you. All that matters is that they have a great time.

Little gestures go a long way when it comes to press trips. For example, a small welcoming basket of local produce or food will mean a delightful start to a stay. Giving your guests a unique flavour of the place they are visiting is always welcome. Imagine travelling, often by public transport or for a long time. Then imagine being greeted with a gift or something personalised. It makes all the difference and will set your guests up for a stay to remember.

Making their time with you as easy as possible is also key. Offer to pick up or drop off guests from their arrival. If you’re in a remote location, offer to transport them to visitor destinations and pick them back up again. Show them what makes you special.

Try to remember these three elements which will give your guests a press trip to remember:

  • Make sure their trip matches the publication’s remit or their personal interests
  • Factor in enough time for them to feel welcome and not rushed
  • Make sure that the destination is what they were expecting and more

Make it easy on yourself

Once your visitors have visited and then packed up their bags and left for home, follow-ups are often necessary. Never underestimate the disorganised and often forgetful nature of a blogger or journalist. Be their resource, even when they get back to the office. It’s often good to remember the following:

  • Reliable WiFi: an internet connection, especially in the countryside, is like a lifeline for many visitors, especially social media influencers or bloggers. Make sure free connections are available most of the time.
  • Consider commissioning photography or video content that you can give to visitors easily. Having this on hand for their articles already will mean a quicker turnaround, even if you see the same images appearing a lot when your attraction is mentioned.
  • Essential information and contacts: your name, address, phone number and mobile at least should be made available. The same goes for your website URL, email address and social media accounts. Combine this into a welcome pack for the best results. Then get it sent out before your visitors arrive.
  • Time to unwind! Your guests will appreciate some time to de-stress and relax. Constant activity is great, but many bloggers and video specialists will appreciate time to review and edit material while they are there. Also, even the most enthusiastic explorers need some rest and relaxation!
  • Food: be aware of dietary choices and cultural differences. Not everyone can eat meat, and those who can might not be able to eat certain kinds for personal or religious reasons. Equally, don’t serve anything that might flare up allergies. Find out preferences beforehand. You do not need visitors going hungry to add to your already busy schedule.

Make it special

The press trip is far from dead. In fact, in this day and age, they are one of the best ways to sell an experience, location or attraction. Giving those who are willing to feature you the means to make their content all the more special will work wonders: increased bookings, greater brand awareness and long-lasting return on investment.