Press trips, domestic or otherwise may seem daunting or intimidating to execute. But after leading media around the world for more than 10 years on behalf of our clients, we’ve learned a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t. Here are some tips for how to execute a flawless press trip:
Create a timeline
Once your budget is approved and trip dates are confirmed, create a timeline with key deadlines for each component of the trip to work back from. That way, you can track and prioritize parts of the trip that require more time to secure than others. On a similar note, build in extra time to account for coordinating between your client, media and vendors as well as to execute alternatives.
Remember the details
Ensuring your group arrives at the final destination is just one piece of your adventure, and it begins with all of the little things that lead up to the big day. Before you get on that plane, do you have copies of ticket confirmations, passports, your company credit card, the group’s contact information and key addresses easily accessible? Not so fast. My well-traveled colleagues go beyond obvious practicalities and encourage you to think about the nuances of the trip. They recommend you set your cell phone and computer to the appropriate time zone, pack aspirin and antacids (someone on the trip will thank you later), and inquire about your guest’s food allergies and preferences before the trip to name a few.
Consider your itinerary
Sometimes, less really is more. Offering media the opportunity to indulge in their individual interests keeps them happy and provides added context to the feature he or she writes about your client. One colleague recalled a trip to Michoacán, Mexico in which his media group’s favorite day included an afternoon spent in tiny Purhépecha village in the municipality of Quiroga. There, his group had the freedom to indulge in the sights, sounds and culture at their leisure. In addition, scheduling downtime may even offer better opportunities to connect with them. On a separate trip to Mexico a few years ago, another colleague bonded with an editor over her culinary school background; a nugget of information she dug up during the research she conducted on the attendees before the trip. They remain good friends today; more on that below.
Prepare to entertain and engage beyond the job
Read their articles, check out their Twitter feed and LinkedIn profile and identify their interests. Connect with them before the trip. Then, take advantage of the face time you’ll have and get to know these individuals beyond the job. We’re in the business of relationships, so make it a priority to get to know each member of the group. Just say yes when one of them invites you to an unusual museum and don’t be afraid to suggest a potentially polarizing activity, like an evening of hip hop karaoke. It makes for a better working relationship in the future, and who knows? You might even make a new friend or two, as illustrated by my last point above.
Accept that there is no such thing as a flawless press trip
On the other hand, sometimes things don’t always go according to your timeline even when you have a backup plan. On one occasion, current events have forced us to reroute a group of media minutes before a connecting flight to the final destination, while another instance had us searching for alternate hotel accommodations when the power went out in the part of the city our group was staying in. With that said, there is value in being able to think on your feet and make sound decisions amidst unplanned circumstances.
Now it’s your turn, PR pros. What would you add? And for our media friends out there reading this, do you recall a press trip you’ve attended that you felt was executed well? Why do you think it did? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.
***Image courtesy of Bret Hartman for Air New Zealand