Saturday, 15 November 2008

#63 – Getting the commission that seals a press trip

Or looking for angles in the itineraries.

How to get on a press trip
In Tip #60 I explained that the way to get on a press trip (or junket, if we’re being honest) is to secure a commission in advance from a publication that the PR company or tourist board wants coverage in.

Getting the commission
This is a lot easier said than done, especially if you’re seeking the commission from a publication you haven’t worked for before. Most editors don’t like handing out commissions to people they don’t know, especially if they haven’t even been to the destination yet.

Vague press trip invitations
The other problem is that press trip invitations can be incredibly vague. They will often invite you to “explore the history of Snotsville” or “get active in Snotsland’s wonderful Snotty mountains”. If this is the case, the first step should be to e-mail the PR person back and ask what exactly this entails. Respectfully state that you would be interested in the trip, and could potentially secure a commission, but you need more information to pitch to the editor with.

Itinerary or waffle?
One of two things happens here – the good PR people send back an approximated itinerary, with details on each aspect of it. The bad PR people direct you to a website or send you back a whole lot more waffle on the wonders of the area. In other words, they don’t even know themselves what will happen on the trip.

Ones to avoid
Avoid the latter – chances are it’ll end up being a trudge around new hotel developments, and a series of half-arsed tasters of what the region has to offer. If the former, take that information, and hunt for an angle.

If, for example, a whale watching tour is part of the trip, take a look at the company website and try and dig out something unique about the company or the whales in the area. Is the ship’s captain a former whaler who switched to tourism? Are whale numbers in the region rapidly increasing due to protection measures? That is the sort of thing that could be pitched out.

Selection of angles
It may take a little more research than just looking at the itinerary presented, but a good trip should present a selection of possible angles to pitch to editors. Find the angles, pitch them out, hope the editor bites, and then go back to the PR people saying that Publication X has commissioned you to write a story as a result of the trip. As long as the publication in question is one they want coverage in, your place should be secured.

1 comment:

Fiona Young-Brown said...

Very useful piece as press trips and commissions have always felt like a chicken-egg situation.