For holiday and tourism businesses, hosting journalists is a great way of generating media coverage. Travel features and reviews are almost always written based on first-hand experiences, particularly in the higher quality publications, so inviting a journalist to visit your business is pretty much the only way to secure an in-depth review.
When handled properly, press trips are one of the most effective forms of PR and can yield fantastic results for your business. Here are our top tips on how to host a successful press trip.
Have a clear target
It is important to have a clear idea of the types of publication you would like your business to be featured in. You must think about your target market and where they go to access information. If you run a hotel for example, what papers do your guests order and what publications do they leave behind? Online media is increasingly effective, especially if your business takes bookings through your website.
When approaching journalists your offering needs to be as interesting and different as possible. Consider teaming up with complementary businesses to cover restaurants, accommodation and activities. Spend time thinking about a possible itinerary. What can you offer that is different or unusual? Are there any events or activities that would make their trip particularly special? Journalists constantly get bombarded with requests so it is important to make yours stand out.
These things often take months of ground work and a long time to organise. Sometimes a journalist will express an interest but then not come forward with any concrete dates. It is important to follow up any leads as timely as possible and then wait for a response. Be patient, eventually the hard work will pay off.
Be prepared to comp
As budgets get tighter and tighter you are often required to offer complimentary accommodation, travel and on occasion other major expenses. Remember to bear the PR benefits in mind when weighing up the overall costs. Usually the coverage a press trip can generate often far outstrips what it might cost you to cover their major expenses.
Journalists are often bound by tight deadlines so it is essential to be flexible with dates and other arrangements where possible. Obviously this isn’t always an option, especially if you are working on an event or an activity bound by time constraints. Similarly, press trips work best when journalists are able to experience a trip as a genuine customer so they may wish to bring a partner or family members with them. You should always try and be as hospitable as possible and accommodate their needs.
Be prepared & plan ahead
Make things as easy as possible for any visiting media. Have a press pack, high resolution images and details on pricing ready for them on arrival. Try and pre-empt any questions they might have and make sure they know they can contact you if they need anything. Similarly, plan any activities they might be doing carefully. Will they have enough time to get from A to B? Do they have transport? Is the chef they would like to interview around on that day?
Many journalists and publications are working a long way ahead with features and content often planned months in advance. It is worth bearing in mind that there may be quite a significant time lag between when the press trip takes place and when the write up appears in print. If you are looking for a quick turnaround on a piece, then a focus on online media will be most effective.
You can only control so much
Although you can do everything in your power to ensure any visiting media have a nice time, unfortunately you cannot control what they write about you. Nothing is guaranteed in PR and you must be prepared to accept that this is out of your control.