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The Ambidextrous Travel Writer is a monthly advice column for travel writers & bloggers, written by author Susan Farewell.

Dos and Don’ts for Getting Invited on Press Trips

Getting Invited on Press Trips
5 December 2011 Post Author:
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You just noticed on Facebook that two colleagues are off to the Amalfi Coast on a press trip.

Your heart sinks. Why weren’t you invited?

Chances are you’re not on that invitation list for a reason. So what does one have to do to get on and stay on these lists?

Here are some dos and don’ts that apply to any media event, whether a press conference in New York City or two-week trip around Australia.

Dos

  • Do make sure PR firms, tourism offices and other travel industry people that represent places you cover know of your existence and your outlets. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways such as introducing yourself in an e-mail, by mentioning them on Twitter or befriending them on Facebook.
  • Do RSVP. The minute a press invitation comes in, check your availability and respond as soon as you can. All too often people delay and wind up responding too late.
  • Do carry business cards. It’s very simple. You want people to know how to reach you. Keep it professional—scribbling your information on a napkin is a no-no.
  • Do make a point of meeting the host wherever you go. Sounds really elementary, but many members of the media simply skip this critical step. Presumably, one of the reasons you’re at the event is to make contacts. Don’t miss the opportunity.
  • Do take notes. While most information presented at a press event  or on trips can be found “in the release” or  “on the flash drive,” jotting down notes can help jog your memory. Also, it sends a message to the organizer that you’re engaged in what’s happening.
  • Do follow up. When you do write a story that’s a direct result of a press conference or trip, be sure to let the organizers of the trip know about it. While you can do this via mentions on Twitter, it’s really best to let them know direct via e-mail. Cultivate the personal relationship.

Don’ts

  • Don’t be a no-show to press events. That will surely fast-track you to the black list. Even if you have to cancel at the last hour, it’s better to shoot the organizer an e-mail letting them know you cannot make it.
  • Don’t huddle in cliques. While you may love talking shop with colleagues and visiting with old co-workers, it’s rude to other people and often leaves the host and others who are paying for the event standing around on their own.
  • Don’t text or talk on the phone when at events.  In fact, don’t even take your mobile device out. It’s rude and–though widely practiced–unacceptable behavior under any circumstances.
  • Don’t take pictures of everything you eat. The trend of showing what you ate and posting it on social media outlets that’s so popular these days is best left to amateurs  who are tickled to be eating in certain restaurants or eager to let everyone know they are flying off somewhere exotic.
  • Don’t perpetuate the starving writer syndrome.  While you may think your laid-back style of dressing is reflective of your creative genius, it’s not appropriate to show up at a 4- or 5-star hotel dressed as if you’re a street musician.
  • Don’t  blabber on about your personal life to the PR folks and hosts of the events. While a certain amount of small talk and exchanging of niceties is in order when meeting people at media events, no one needs to know that your boyfriend of three years just cheated on you or that you haven’t made more than $50 this month.
  • Don’t skip events on the itinerary because you have to work on another article. We all have deadlines. Before accepting an invitation, make sure you’re free and clear to go.
  • Don’t take a trip and not write about it. We’ve all been victims of assignments that fell through. Magazines close, editors get fired, editors take stories in “different directions.”  That doesn’t excuse you from writing  about the destination or hotel you visited. Look for other outlets and opportunities and keep in mind that a blog that gets 143 hits a month is not adequate.
  • Resell, recycle, syndicate…get as much ink, bits and pixels as you can out of a trip. Make the PR firm that sent you to their client proud.
  • Keep in mind that someone is investing in you and your reach. Behind every press trip is a business or a destination that is trying to encourage visitors. While you may view it as an island escape in the middle of winter, your hosts have expectations. Don’t forget that.

None of these tips are particularly surprising. That’s because it’s all just common sense.

Whenever I or one of our contributors to FarewellTravels.com gets invited somewhere, our practice is to think of it like we’re having a party. How would we like to be treated by our guests? That’s the polite way to treat any PR person who thinks highly enough of you to invite you to his or her party or on a trip. As your mother used to tell you: Remember your manners.

~ Susan

Are you regularly invited on Press Trips? Share your advice!


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13 Responses to “Dos and Don’ts for Getting Invited on Press Trips”

  1. Always good advice, Susan!

    The only one I might quibble over is the one about your mobile device – I’ve noticed that on some press trips, the hosts are actually eager to have bloggers Tweeting about the trip in real-time….helping them raise their visibility through social media is getting so popular these days as to almost be a “must-do”, and when traveling a mobile device is how many writers/bloggers stay connected to their social media outlets.

    However, I totally agree that it’s all about appropriateness – and that talking or texting (rather than tweeting about what a great time one is having at the destination) while attending a press trip event is downright rude and should never be done.

    • I totally agree. There’s a time and place for social media but tweeting about every second and every breathe you take while on a press junket is ridiculous. We all “get” that bloggers are there to do a return favor for their hosts but everything in moderation. The excessive tweeting makes them look more like travel prostitutes masquerading as travel journalists.

  2. Good tips. Although I agree with Trisha that many sponsors DO like to see you take your mobile device out and tweet. And I’ve never heard a host say anything negative about taking pictures of food at the table for coverage (the only people I’ve heard complain about that are old school print writers who never do social media or write for online).

    I’m starting to accept fewer press trips these days because there’s never enough time to work or blog on the road. It’s almost impossible for me to finish everything before a trip, as I have recurring weekly deadlines. I’ve noticed that the people who can afford to stay off the Internet and not work for a week are the ones who aren’t really making a living from travel writing anymore. Having a few free blocks of time, where we can either explore on our own or have time to catch up with email/Twitter/Facebook, is becoming essential.

  3. Old or new school, print or new media. We’re talking about professional etiquette. Plain and simple.

    Taking pics of food if you’re writing about food makes sense but is it appropriate at a dinner to rearrange chairs (even stand on chairs) when speeches are being made?

    Tweeting while you’re talking to the host at a reception…could it wait until the conversation ends?

    I think it’s all pretty obvious!

  4. JoAnna
    Twitter:
    says:

    All good tips, Susan. Thanks for the great post. I’m sure those new to press trips will find this helpful.

  5. Shereen
    Twitter:
    says:

    Thanks for these tips. I am growing my blog and reach and have started to look into press trips and how I can go about getting invited to one. These are very helpful.

  6. Zi Zi Bright
    Twitter:
    says:

    I might be old school but twittering… does it have to be done in the moment. Can you wait until later to tweet the event?

  7. All good press trip tips. However, I agree with Trisha and Chris about the mobile device comment. True, tweeting while eating is not necessary. Yet I’ve been on a press trip where media participants received smartphones to ensure tweeting while traveling.

    I see a trend in social media press trips including #hashtags specifically developed to promote that particular trip.

  8. Hi Susan- You were my very first travel-writing teacher, and your advice continues to inform. You might add that once invited, it’s bad form to ask if your husband, mother, best friends, etc. can join you! I enjoy reading you.
    Malerie

  9. Ele
    Twitter:
    says:

    Thank you very much for great advice. I am a novice blogger, so it’s useful to know of what is ahead. And as far as tweets are concerned, I have an old Nokia phone that isn’t smart, so no worries there :-)

  10. Rishabh says:

    Very informative as with all the other posts Ive read here. Just a couple of questions though.

    My wife and I have just started writing. We have a couple of articles published and a blog up and running but we’re still quite new. Is it a good idea to start developing relationships right now or should we wait till we are little better known and then start networking?

    Though it may seem a little off the topic, but this is something we’ve been mulling over for some time now.

    Also any feedback on our blog will be really appreciated :)

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