Planning a Flawless Press Trip
A press trip is a wonderful strategy in connecting your brand to the media or influencer. Not only do you have full control of the messaging and environment, but it gives you a chance to create a meaningful personal connection and relationship with the attendee. We have been fortunate enough to plan many press trips, near and far, and the following are our best suggestions for planning a successful trip.
Be clear on your expectations
Before any planning begins, it is important to be very clear on the outcomes you desire. Whether it is a certain number of impressions, a certain influencer, a target market or amount of sales, make sure your team is clear on what you are hoping to achieve. Create guidelines to share with the invitees so they are aware of your goals. This will help shape other aspects of the trip.
Create a budget
It is important to be realistic on what you can afford. How many people can you invite? What airfare or transportation are you willing to pay for? What is the meal budget? Depending on the trip, most media expect the brand to pay for all expenses, though we have had exceptions for shorter, domestic trips.
The majority of staff writers cannot accept media trips. So keep in mind who you will be inviting and why that person. We recommend a good mix of sommeliers, hospitality, and media, but recommend not mixing importers and salespeople with the same group. Keep good records on your media and be sure someone unprofessional and hard to work with do not end up on your invite list. There are many media trips competing for your guests, it is necessary to give your attendees sufficient advance notice. We aim to send invites at least four to five months in advance.
Get to know your invitees
Find out what your guests are like, even if you haven’t met them. Dive deep into their social media channels, read their previous work and ask them questions. Are they the type to get up early and go for a run, or do they need as much sleep as possible and an extra-large coffee? Do they have any food allergies? What is their aesthetic and style? What is important to them, interviews, photos etc. Find out as much as you can to customize the trip to each person as much as possible.
Create a diverse itinerary and consistently over deliver
One can only handle so much wine and food in a day. Mix up the itinerary with unique experiences that are not centered around wine. Give them a chance to meet with other industry experts or distinctive passionate people in the area. Sprinkle in opportunities to exercise and move, so the guests do not feel like a force-fed animal. In the past, we have done morning yoga classes, hikes, kayaking and more. Surprise and excite your guests with the activities and experiences you create. Do your absolute best to go beyond any expectations.
It is easy to get caught up in all the options and plan out every minute of every day, but the guests do need time to relax, recharge, work and explore. Press trips are not a vacation for the guest, it is work. They and you have to be “on” the entire time. Give them the chance to write, reflect and do some solo exploration and they will be very grateful for it.
“Instagramable” moments and WiFi
Think ahead to the moments and places that are picturesque and worthy of a share. Hire a professional photographer that is able to capture and share pictures with the guests as quickly as possible. They will want to be posting their adventures in real time and need high-quality content. Be sure that Wifi is paid for at the hotels and passwords are provided whenever possible. Be sure to provide all hashtags and brand channels well in advance.
Swag and press kits
The last thing the guests want to lug around is a lot of paperwork, bulky collateral and stuff they will never use. Consolidate all the press kits, tasting notes, stock photos to a flash drive so they can easily access the information. Swag bags are fun, thoughtful gifts they can take away from the trip. Be sure the things you give to attendees are things they actually find useful.
After months of planning, do not let a follow-up slip by after the trip. Ask the guests for feedback on the experience and be sure they receive all the materials they need. Delegate someone who will do the follow-up and be sure they have all the material, tasting notes, menus and etc on hand and ready to send.
Communicate as much as possible
At least a week or two before the trip, the attendees should have a detailed itinerary and suggestions on what to pack. Do not let them get caught off-guard with unexpected hiking or fancy dinners. Give them as much information as possible as early as possible. There is always a chance things will change at the last minute. Be sure to communicate these changes to the entire group, so no one is caught off guard.