I recently took part in my first press trip, to the Outdoor Academy in West Sweden. Approximately 45 journalists, tour operators and retailers took part, and we spent our time sea-kayaking and eating crayfish. Visit Sweden ran a tight ship and as a first-timer I was very impressed with the hosts, but I soon learned that there are certain steps that attendees can take to make sure they make the most of their experience.
Here are my tips for a novice press trip attendee.
1. Be prepared
If you are required to organise anything yourself (travel insurance, transport to airport etc.) do so as soon as possible and keep a track of everything. Last minute stress is not good for you or your hosts, so be professional and be prepared. It doesn’t hurt to research the destination either. I bought a local author’s crime novel, which enriched my experience of the area and hopefully proved to my hosts that I was keen to immerse myself.
2. Don’t act like a child
Prior to departure, I read a lot describing the regressive behaviour of some press trip participants; horror stories of seemingly mature adults lapsing into their moody teenage ways, or worse, acting as helpless (and annoying) as a five-year-old child. On occasion I did have flashbacks to my school trip days, but just because someone else is in charge of the itinerary and providing the refreshments doesn’t mean you can throw a strop or expect them to do everything for you.
3. Conserve your energy
Press trips can be incredibly tiring (and mine certainly was). As everyone stressed (with a smile), press trips are not a holiday; if you’re serious about getting the most out of your trip, take it easy at the bar, get to bed at a decent time and take care of your health. You want to do a good job, so make it easy for yourself.
4. Patience, patience, patience
As bloggers/journalists, we tend to be fairly independent types, so group work can be frustrating. With some of the group acting like the children described in point two, some turning up late because they ignored point three, and some with egos that come from running a marginally successful blog or business, there’s always someone to push your buttons. Don’t rise to the bait.
5. Ask questions
Scratch that; read your welcome pack and then ask any questions that have not already been answered for you. This also involves paying attention and listening to presentations, rather than chatting through them, only to expect a personal recap with the speaker.
It’s likely that you have a team of local experts desperate to share their area with you, so ask them about it! Not only will you enrich your experience and display your enthusiasm, you might just find that hook for a fantastic, unique story.
6. Talk to fellow guests
You should regard your press trip as one long networking event. Your peers are likely to be in the same industry as you, so talk to them! As a recent graduate, new to the travel industry, I was stunned to be sharing restaurant tables with seasoned travel journalists and leading tour operators, and seized the opportunity to pick their brains at every chance.
7. Be respectful and gracious in front of PRs and hosts
Perhaps I’m naïve and yet to be jaded by the world of journalism, but if someone pays for your flights, accommodation, meals and activities, whilst showcasing their home country to you, you do not turn your nose up! Complaining about having to get up early, or moaning about the weather is about as ungrateful as you can get.
8. Be ruthless
You (should) know why you took up the press trip. You know what story will interest your readers, and which aspects won’t. When you’re being presented with something that interests you, grab the opportunity with both hands; get to the front of the group to get the best pictures and the best chance of catching the speaker (whether it’s a tour operator, hotel owner etc.) for a private chat afterwards.
9. Enjoy it
It’s drummed into you the entire time: A press trip is not a holiday! That said, you’re not in an office, and while a level of professionalism is imperative, all involved will have a better time if you are relaxed and flexible. The PRs want you to have a good time, so if you have a problem, let them know.
10. Follow up
If you wish to maintain the contacts you made during your trip, it’s always worth sending a quick e-mail to thank them for their hospitality or encourage your peers to keep in touch. Try your best to meet any deadline requirements for write-ups, and do a good job. That’s if you want to get invited back.
Do you have any tips to add?