Confessions of an Optimistic PR Chick

Confessions of an Optimistic PR Chick:

Confessions of an Optimistic PR Chick is a recurring column helping bloggers & PR folks see eye-to-eye, written by Lisa Gerber, Chief Content Officer for the PR blog, Spin Sucks, President of BigLeap Creative and PR Chick extraordinaire. Read Lisa’s blog at The 26-Hour Day.

How to Score the Love and Admiration of your helpful PR Professional

17 March 2011 Post Author:
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I cringed when I saw the headline…

… “How to Score a Press Trip”, By Christy and Scott, from The Ordinary Traveler and as I hovered over the link to click it, I braced myself to read something that was going to get me all fired up.

As a PR pro, the last thing we want to see/hear is about people finding ways to score freebies. And that is what the tone of the headline said to me.

But I read it through and there was mostly accurate information.

I think what bothers me is the subtle underlying message that travel writers do this for the free stuff.

I know I know, it sounds so idealistic of me to hope that they all do it for the art of their work, the experience of travel, and the cultural exploration.

Oh wait, that is the real reason, right?

When it comes to your site numbers, PR Pros go for quality over quantity.

I know I know, it doesn’t pencil out to be able to pay for everything you do.

So there is this sort of “dark side”, as some might call it, where you enter into an agreement (tacit, implied or written) with a property, tourism bureau or PR firm, to share your experience (positive or negative) to your audience. An audience that we are hoping to reach.

I prefer to call it a partnership because we have similar goals and shared audiences.

How can we help each other? It is not a vehicle for scoring free travel. I recognize that this is a subtle difference, but an important one in driving the approach that you, as writers and bloggers, take when dealing with the hosting properties.

I work with travel writers daily (for good AND bad), and the bad ones – the ones that give all travel writers a bad name – are the ones who see press trips as a divine right … the “Don’t You Know Who I am Syndrome?”

Christy and Scott recommend writing a form letter with your traffic stats and demographics. Yes, we want that information but a personalized letter telling me specifically how you can benefit my property would be far preferable to a form letter. I reach out to influential media outlets all the time and I do my research and provide them with as much detail as I can, outlining the possibilities for us to work together. I hope for the same from you if you are reaching out to me.

Even if your traffic stats are not high, it’s still possible to get a press trip if you show the company they can benefit from your blog promoting the destination.

Correct, we go for quality over quantity. If you can demonstrate a strong community of readers that are interacting and sharing your content, and that have a specific interest in what we have to offer, then the above statement is true.

And the post ends with the following question:

Have you been on Press Trip? Do you have any other tips for scoring free travel and swag?

I’ll wrap this up with a few final tips that were left out of their post:

  • Don’t forget to disclose that your trip was sponsored, in compliance with the FTC Blogger guidelines.
  • Sending a thank you note is a REALLY nice touch. It’s not required, but it makes me happy when I get one.
  • Be grateful and work WITH me. I will do what I can to make your job easier. I will provide what I can and I will tell you what I can’t provide. I had a travel writer hang up on me mid sentence because I couldn’t get him into a ranch in Idaho in mid July. Peak season.

If we approach it as a partnership, rather than you “scoring free stuff”, and me being your concierge/babysitter, then yes, you’ll get free travel, but I think someone once said, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

~ Lisa

Do you regularly work with PR people? Share your experience!

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8 Responses to “How to Score the Love and Admiration of your helpful PR Professional”

  1. Excellent advice, Lisa!

    While I realize that most travel writers don’t have the budget to travel extensively, and instead rely on hosted trips, for years writers have at least been professional about it.

    It’s this newbie-travel-blogger attitude of “hey let’s start a travel blog to get free trips!” that is really a turn-off to most would-be hosts and PR Firms….and giving the whole concept of hosting bloggers a very bad image.

    Also, travel bloggers who get their nose in the air and crow about how popular their blog is (yeah, I’ve met a few like that) need to remember that they may be popular with other travel bloggers, but it’s the blogs that reach a significant share of the consumer market – i.e. travelers – that are really in the best position to enjoy hosted trips.

    • Lisa Gerber

      yes, It definitely has to make sense for the hosts in order for them to comp the trip. Anyone and everyone can put up a blog. From a PR perspective, I need to do my due diligence before I can counsel my client to offer a comp.

      It’s easiest when the blogger I’m working with makes it easy for me and understands my position. We hate to have to rake you over the coals, but it’s part of our job.

  2. ayngelina

    Thanks so much for the tips, especially the thank you note. I’m doing my first press gig next week and I’m really looking forward to it but I know it will be a lot of work as well. I really want to show that I can provide value for both my readers and for the sponsoring company.

  3. Helpful tips, Lisa. I clicked on “How to Score a Press Trip” and cringed when I read the end question: Do you have any other tips for scoring free travel and swag?

    Judging by the number of comments on that post, it is clear that press trips are the end goal for many travel bloggers. Writing as a journalist and blogger, I do hope that fellow travel bloggers disclose if they were “hosted” on a trip. I also hope they remain objective on their reviews. Personally, I am not a fan of sponsored posts or advertorials.

    I completely agree with you on the partnership comment. PR pros like you make my life (and my writing) so much easier. Thanks for the column.

  4. Good article. As someone who spends a lot of time cultivating relationships with PR reps, I also cringe when I see headlines about snagging free stuff. It makes all travel bloggers look unprofessional.

    Once you’re on the trip, you can really tell who is in it for the freebie and who is there to work. Those who care about their readers are taking pictures, asking questions, and trying to get everything that they can out of the experience. They have angles and story ideas, just like regular travel writers. These are the ones who make good partners.

    The good news is that a lot of bloggers are becoming more professional. I went on a blogger-specific press trip back to Mexico back in August, and everyone was working their butts off. So the trick for PR professionals is to vet those type of bloggers in advance before offering them the trip.

    • Lisa gerber

      yep, the vetting is the key. But sometimes it isn’t apparent until you actually start working together. I’ve been known to rescind an offer when things start to go bad before we even get to the trip. You just start to KNOW. and sometimes, it’s better to nip it in the bud.

      I hope, however, you and I can work together some day!!! 🙂

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