Running a press trip – not a stress trip

Running a press trip – not a stress trip

Viv Onslow, Senior PR Executive, AB Property Marketing Ltd

As a rooky PR girl some 7 years ago, the boss asks, “Could you fit in organising a press trip?”

Of course I could – a piece of cake.  I might not have done PR for years but I certainly have worked in a commercial fast-paced environment for eons and getting a few journalists onto a plane to somewhere hot should be a doddle. She said.

“So four top flight journalists need to go to La Gomera and here are the dates.” Off I trotted with these essential details and a list of which publications we wanted to target. Easy I thought.

Well, as I very quickly leaned, there are five things you need to know before embarking on inviting journalists on a press trip:

  1. Journalists get invited on press trips dozens of times a month
  2. They cherry pick their trips
  3. They want a hook – and three days in the sun in itself just isn’t enough
  4. You need to jump through hoops – high ones
  5. Being organised is essential

Being then relatively new to property PR meant I hadn’t thought some of this through until I started sending out the invites. The replies dribbled back: “I’m busy”, “No thanks, not for me”, “No, already been there” or just plain “NO!”

I’m never deterred by a few no’s so it was on to the next batch of possibles. Adding some more oomph to my invite such as like the ambient air temperature in La Gomera in May, some sexy details on the hotel accommodation and some highlights of food and wine of the region.

At last a couple of journalists came back with “well yes – maybe”.

Obviously there were a few caveats to the “maybe” ranging from “what time is the flight?” to “How will I get to the airport?”, “Does the hotel do macchiato Frappuccinos?” and “What exactly is for sale?”, “Do you have a case study?” and “Who actually lives on La Gomera – why not just go to Tenerife?!”

Things were moving, albeit slowly, in the right direction.  Questions answered, positive vibes and just two more to go.  More scouring the contact book for hot property writers who appear to never have been to the Canaries.

Then a stroke of good luck.  The hotel dug out a dignitary, a UK MP who appeared to be happy to host a drinks party and had a house on La Gomera.  It was all coming together nicely.

Rather oddly this press trip, unlike most that I have gone on to organise, did not require a PR representative so there was no me or the boss on the ground to sort out problems and hand out euros like it was monopoly money.  The client was in charge and on their own.

Waking on the morning of the press trip to five missed calls on my mobile did nothing to steady the nerves.  Lost journalist at Gatwick who couldn’t find the group and couldn’t manage to dial the contact number I had furnished her with.

Actually after this minor hiccough, things went swimmingly. The journalists all arrived safe and sound, had a fabulous time and the client got stacks of great coverage – which is really why us PR folk are hell bent on making these trips a success.

Since then I have gone on to organise many press trips and it is very obvious why clients entrust us to sort this “stuff” out for them.

Press trip are tough and can too often become ‘stress trips’ if not managed properly. They need to be organised down to minutiae – the more organisation, the more smoothly events will run be they here in the UK or in Zambia!

And it can be a fine line juggling the needs of the client and the needs of the journalist to keep everyone happy.  So my top tips for a smooth running press trip and not a stress trip are:

  1. Write EVERYTHING down – that way you have less chance of missing things and making mistakes
  2. Produce a press trip itinerary – this needs explicit details on timings, flight info, who, what, where, when and why. Don’t forget to put EVERYONE’S email and telephone numbers on here – they will be essential to all attendees.
  3. Don’t be afraid to say NO. Clients and journalists can sometimes have ridiculous expectations – and you need to know when to draw the line
  4. If you are attending a press trip DON’T get drunk however tempting that sangria is. You are in charge and should remain professional at all times.
  5. Smile, be polite and soldier on. It will come out right in the end.

For more information on how to arrange a press trip, contact Viv at AB Property Marketing on +44 845 054 7524 or visit


Editor’s Notes:

Get the skinny on Viv here!