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