Five Simple Ways to Host a Successful Media Trip

Five Simple Ways to Host a Successful Media Trip

By Erica Schlesinger, Communications Strategist

For our hospitality PR client partners, a key component to a successful media relations strategy is planning press visits. Sometimes, this involves setting up an individual journalist with a hotel stay, activities and meals on their own, but often, we will plan a group press trip. Also called a familiarization, or “fam” trip, these team endeavors are a great way to form personal relationships with members of the media while also securing multiple features for client partners. I have personally planned and attended more than 10 press trips, so I like to think I know a thing or two about making them smooth and successful!

Check out my top five tips for pulling off a great getaway:

  1. Plan ahead – As much as possible, start narrowing down dates, general trajectory of the trip, how many people to host and target audiences about four or five (or even six for a longer trip) months in advance. Many sought-after travel journalists have trips lined up back-to-back, so getting on their calendars is much more likely when you give them the chance to plan ahead. It may seem like overkill, but you’ll have a clear picture of who can make it – and who can’t – with enough time to fill your trip and stay organized… without having a last-minute panic attack.
  2. Be flexible – Schedules change, people run late and guests can develop newfound food allergies or fears of heights when you had a meticulous tasting menu and zipline excursion planned. There is no such thing as a perfect fam trip – when you’re balancing five to seven writers, their guests, their requests, different onsite teams working together and robust itineraries, something is bound to change (and often last-minute and on-the-go). It may not always be convenient or ideal, but tackle it as you would any professional issue: take a breath, use your head, ask for help as needed and take it from there. You’ll soon have it handled. I’ve had writers have overnight flight delays or at-home emergencies, change preferences on a completed itinerary, show up with an unexpected guest and much more. At the end of the day, you’re there to make sure they arrive safely, have a good experience and leave happy – and want to work with you again and say nice things about your clients as a result. Another tip – be transparent with your client partner and inform them of any issues that may impact their teams, but if they don’t need to get involved, don’t bring them into the mix.
  3. Be a control freak – Staying organized is critical for a successful fam trip. You need to make sure a lot of details are sorted and effectively communicated to all involved parties, travel arrangements are made, itineraries are approved, rooms are booked – you get the idea. At WOC, we have a few things that always make their way into our fam trip planning rotation:
    • Bio sheet – Ask each press trip attendee for a photo, brief bio, what their story will be about and the reach of their outlet, then compile into a single document to share with stakeholders. It gives a snapshot of who they’ll be meeting so they can prepare to chat with them, address any special preferences and get an idea of what sort of result they can expect from their time and money.
    • Google Docs/Google Drive – AKA your press trip BFF. Load any spreadsheets, bio sheets, itineraries and other documents up, add approved editors and watch edits appear in real time… without having 50 back-and-forth emails. Isn’t that nice?
    • Preference sheet/head count sheet – This is like a press trip “master document.” Here, we will have all key information any given member of our team or our clients’ team may need at any time to plan the trip. Excel is a great platform to build this in, then – you guessed it – load it into Google Drive. At the very least, this should include all contact info for each attendee, information on their preferences and any health or dietary needs, their guest, their meal selections and their activity preferences. For the latter two, build a “total count” row into the bottom of the sheet – this makes interfacing with activity partners and building BEOs a much easier process.
    • Itinerary – Also like the Press Trip Bible. This is a very detailed timeline covering everything attendees can expect from their trip, right down to notes about driving times if they’re arriving separately and check-in tips for spa appointments. It will keep you, your team and your guests on track from day one to waving goodbye. We WOC-ers like to add each element of the itinerary into our smartphone calendars with a 30-minute warning so we can always be one step ahead.
  4. Be a social butterfly – As a PR pro, you are on a fam trip to represent your client partner, guide the trip and act as a go-to source for information, but in reality, you’re the chief entertainer, too. You will be the person these folks will see the most over two, three, sometimes six or seven days, and it is your job to make sure they all feel welcome and are having fun. When everyone arrives, get them all introduced to one another (including their guests) – and you should not have to refer to any notes for names or what outlet they’re from! During the first meet-and-greet with key members of your client partner’s team, introduce both parties with full names and titles. While at meals or driving in a group, make an effort to mix and mingle with different people. Sometimes, some attendees are much harder to connect with than others – resist the urge to stick with Chatty Cathy the whole trip through. It may be Silent Sue who has the most questions, is the most uncomfortable around groups or just needs some encouragement to open up.
  5. Be a human clock – Real talk… media attendees are rarely keeping track of the time and itinerary while on press trips. Which is fine, since they’re there for the experience. PR pros, however, need to be on schedule at all times. During activities, keep an eye on the time and give updates (“Hey, guys, we have about 20 more minutes in this location. Is there anything else you need to see or photograph before we prepare to move on?”) – this can even mean politely urging a tour guide along, or pulling a chef aside in advance of a big meal to remind him or her of your after-dinner itinerary. If sending people off on free time before another set of activities, and during the last get-together of the evening, remind people of the time and location of their next scheduled stop. It might seem like a lot of “hovering,” but you’ll be surprised how quickly people forget when dinner is or where they need to check it for their morning horseback ride after a full day.

Putting together a winning press trip takes much more than following a few guidelines, but these are a great place to start. Hospitality PR pros, what other tips would you share after running trips of your own?

To learn more about (W)right On’s hospitality PR team, results and capabilities, check out WrightOnComm.com/Hospitality.

Meet the Team: Keely – Design and Multimedia Specialist

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To help our audience learn who is behind the content on this blog, we’ve been releasing a series of Q&A’s from our team. In this month’s edition, you will learn all about our Design and Multimedia Specialist, Keely Smith.

Keely brings an eye for design to the (W)right On team. Her experience stretches from web to print media, designing for local businesses, schools, and corporate structures. Keely seeks to create art that motivates the audience to see and experience the world in fresh and exhilarating ways. As an artist and innovator, she engages various mediums including graphic design, sculpture, illustration, dance and music. With a passion for expression she strives to build relationships around fostering creativity and collaboration. Keely has a Bachelor of Arts with an emphasis in Graphic Design from San Diego State University.

What would you be doing if you weren’t at your current job?

My dream job would be to work as a travel journalist with my own travel show (the female Anthony Bourdain). There’s nothing better than being paid to explore the world!

What’s one word you would use to describe yourself?

Eclectic.

Fill in the blank. “If you really knew me, you’d know ____”My worst fears.

What super power would you like to have? The ability to change into any person or animal.

What would a “perfect” day look like to you?

Sleeping in, have a tasty brunch somewhere, spend time with friends/family, go for a nice walk or bike ride, end the day with a good movie and a glass of wine.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in the past year?

I’m not defined by my failures or misfortunes.

Best vacation you’ve had?irelandI went to Ireland for 2 weeks after I graduated college. Some of the most joyful and sarcastic people I’ve ever met!

What’s your most embarrassing moment at work?

After a trip to the ladies room, I was that girl who walked down the hall with my dress tucked into my underwear. Needless to say things got a little “cheeky”.

Favorite quote?

“I want people to be afraid of how much they love me.” – Michael Scott

“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” – Martin Luther King Jr.

If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would be cast as you?

Jennifer Lawrence – she is crazy talented and has a great sense of humor.Drew Barrymore – because people say I look like her

What’s your drink of choice?

A whiskey-ginger or a glass of cabernet sauvignon.

If you were stuck on an island and could only choose 5 CDs, what would they be?

The Civil Wars – Barton Hallow

Stevie Ray Vaughan – Double Trouble

Ben Howard – Every Kingdom

Banks – Goddess

No Doubt – Tragic Kingdom

Fill in the blank. “People would be surprised if they knew____” That I am part Hispanic even though I’m pretty much translucent.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

When you go out of your way for someone on the road and they don’t give you the courtesy wave, you know what I’m talking about.

What tv show/movie is your guilty pleasure?

Oh man, let’s just say I watch most of the HBO, Starz, masterpiece, and Showtime series. Some of my favorites: GOT, Girls, Homeland, Outlander, Penny Dreadful, and of course Downton Abbey.coffee

What’s one thing you can’t live without?

There are 2 things I can’t live without…coffee and cheese.

Favorite line from a movie?

“You accept the love you think you deserve.” – The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Do you have an office nickname?

What is it? Yes, K Slizzle.

What’s the best/worst gift you have ever received?

Worst – a small tea light candle… just one.

Best – when I was a teen, my mom took me and 2 friends to see my favorite musical Oklahoma.

What do you like to do in your free time?

Spend time with friends and family.

Community Involvement Matters

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By Grant Wright

At (W)right On, we’re frequently asked to become engaged in community affairs of some sort – support a political cause, gauge the pulse of an issue, contribute to a worthwhile endeavor – and in as balanced of a way as we can, we often say yes.

We’ve supported at-risk youth; senior Olympics; domestic violence prevention; independent living for disabled adults; cancer prevention; youth sports programs; student academic scholarships; hospital programs; and more. Additionally, team members engage individually in support of men’s health issues, high school and college student mentoring, and a number of worthwhile causes.

Unless you live under a rock, community involvement matters… to a degree. There will always be more to be done than time or resource allows, so ‘everything in moderation’ is probably apt here. So what are considerations as you think about why and how to engage in your community?

Benefits

  • Community engagement is often smart business. It expands your brand, is a source of intelligence, fosters teamwork and enhances morale, and provides your organization a higher sense of purpose.
  • It makes a difference – to the community and sphere that is your influence. A simple effort or gift of timely wisdom can literally change someone’s life in far more profound ways than the effort or thought needed.
  • It feels good – doing the right thing always does, and in that it contributes to improving the community in which you live, it comes right back to you.
  • It provides a sense of purpose and direction.
  • It sets an example for others – your engagement can have a multiplier effect.
  • It’s fun – Involvement in the community expands your circle of relationships and can often serve as stress relief.

Potential Pitfalls

  • Community involvement can overwhelm or be extremely time consuming. It may be worthwhile to begin with something simple and consider additional support from there with better insight.
  • It can just be more work, busywork or misdirected – it is important to have reasonable understanding and expectation of the benefit you’ll be causing.
  • It can take time from professional and family growth – there are only 24 hours in a day for all of us, and if engagement involves some sort of financial assistance it’s important this is done in a balanced way with all the demands upon your time and resources.
 

At (W)right On, we take great pride in all of our community involvement endeavors. It’s the right thing to do and it’s smart business. Plus, at its core, good communications is all about creating connections and building communities. But especially as we begin to approach the “giving season,” it’s important to consider the size and scope of your community involvement.

What are some of your favorite ways to get involved in the community? Let us know in the comments.

12 Signs PR Agency Life Isn’t for You

By Julie Wright

1. Month end is just another day to you.

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2. You’re happiest doing one thing at a time.

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3. You don’t read the by-lines as closely as the articles.

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4. You don’t measure your life in 5 minute increments.

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5. You come up with song hooks instead of news hooks in the shower.

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6. Your only sense of urgency is when the barista takes too long with your latte.

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7. You had to Google KPI.

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8. You think the work day is 9 to 5.

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9. You wouldn’t describe yourself as a people person.

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10. You follow the Kardashians more closely than Facebook’s algorithm changes.

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11. You fall asleep Sunday nights with no thought to the client projects waiting for you Monday morning.

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12. You fall asleep Sunday night.

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Meet the Team: Grant – CEO & Managing Partner

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To help our audience learn who is behind the content on this blog, we’ve been releasing a series of Q&A’s from our team. In this month’s edition, you will learn all about our Managing Partner & CEO, Grant Wright.

Grant joined (W)right On full-time in 2004. As CEO, Grant provides oversight and senior-level communications and business counsel for the agency’s clients while also overseeing agency management and administration. He has over 20 years of senior management experience leading external affairs and business development for major American and Canadian corporations and their subsidiaries. With extensive skills in all aspects of communications including media, regulatory, governmental, community outreach and labor relations; he has also led major infrastructure project development, M&A due diligence and implementation management, marketing and brand development efforts and strategic and business plan development for Fortune 500 companies as well as small to mid-level growth ventures.

What would you be doing if you weren’t at your current job?

I would be traveling more with family; experiencing other cultures.

What’s one word you would use to describe yourself?

Optimistic.

Fill in the blank. “If you really knew me, you’d know_____”

I’m only as good as the great people around me in my life.

What super power would you like to have?

Flight/Teleportation

What would a “perfect” day look like to you?

Light breakfast; workout; read/nap; beach walk and oceanfront drinks/dinner; great live performance.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned in the past year?

Patience.

pura-taman-ayun-209533_640 Best vacation you’ve had?

 Indonesia with Julie.

 What’s your most embarrassing  moment at work?

 Locking myself out of my room at a 5-star hotel in my underwear when I was sick.

Favorite quote?

Wow. So many. Ok here are two…

“Love all, trust a few, do wrong to none.” – William Shakespeare

“This life is what you make it. No matter what, you’re going to mess up sometimes, it’s the universal truth. So keep your head high, keep your chin up, and most importantly, keep smiling, because life’s a beautiful thing and there’s so much to smile about.” – Marilyn Monroe

If Hollywood made a movie about your life, who would be cast as you?

Someone saying, “Dang, what happened to my acting career?”

What’s your drink of choice?martini-548031_640

It changes, these days a Martini. This phase could be ending soon; excited for the next one! 😉

If you were stuck on an island and could only choose 5 CDs, what would they be?

CD’s? What are they? Love Actually Soundtrack; Elton John Live in Australia; Dark Side of the Moon; Beatles 1; Boston Pops Classical Compilation.

Fill in the blank. “People would be surprised if they knew____”

I like EDM way more than someone my age should.

What’s your biggest pet peeve?

Negativity.

What TV show/movie is your guilty pleasure?

The Voice.

What’s one thing you can’t live without?

Air.

Favorite line from a movie?

Too many, but here are four:

“I love getting up in the morning! I clap my hands and say ‘This, is going to be a great day!”

“Unless you love everybody, you can’t sell anybody.”

“Roll with the punches, tomorrow’s another day.”

“If your heart is empty, your ideas don’t matter.” – Dickey Fox

Do you have an office nickname? What is it?

If I do they haven’t told me!

What’s the best/worst gift you have ever received?

Our two sons with Julie / There is no worst, because every one is well intentioned.

What do you like to do in your free time?

  • Be with family and friends
  • Play racquetball
  • Read
  • Be on the water
  • Travel to new places/experiences

 

Check out a couple blog posts written by Grant here:

In Communications, the Only Constant is Change – Part 2

In Communications, the Only Constant is Change

Measuring the ROI of Public Relations: Five Experts Weigh In

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By Molly Borchers, Sr. Communications Strategist

Public relations and business growth go together like peanut butter and jelly. The last new restaurant I tried? It was because of a good review I read in a local magazine. The last lip-gloss I purchased was the darling of Allure beauty editors. The last business software I evaluated wasn’t because of some advertisement. It was through word of mouth. And as we often say at my company, PR is the ultimate word of mouth.

In fact, the famed Guy Kawasaki recently came out in support of PR as the way to get the most bang for your marketing buck:

“Brands are built on what people are saying about you, not what you’re saying about yourself. People say good things about you when (a) you have a great product and (b) you get people to spread the word about it.”

But despite this advice, I know of many companies who would rather devote their entire marketing budget to advertising. For marketing people, advertising is easier to wrap their hands around. Leads and quantifiable metrics, like click-through-rates and page views, often make marketing people look good in front of their bosses. In advertising, you can often see directly how people are moving through the funnel. With public relations, it’s a bit less tangible.

To further complicate things, actually measuring ROIthe return-on-investment (ROI) in PR is a seemingly herculean task. I hate to say it, but marketing directors and PR folks seem conflicted on measurement. Some are (still) using the antiquated Advertising Value Equivalency (AVE) metric. Others come up with statistical correlations that are tailored to each client’s needs. Some are adopting the Barcelona Declaration of Measurement Principles. Others are measuring tactics like reach and number of placements, rather than outcomes (like increase in sales or website conversions).

So, to help you better advocate for a slice of the marketing pie, I have asked five experts to provide their best practices on PR measurement.

In the beginning, ask “Why?”: Shonali Burke (@shonali), ABC, president and CEO of Shonali Burke Consulting, Inc. knows a thing or two about measurement. She is Adjunct Faculty at Johns Hopkins’ M.A. in Communication program, founder and curator of the #measurePR hashtag and Twitter chat, and owner of the popular blog/community, Waxing UnLyrical. To start, Shonali says that one of the most important questions to ask when trying to figure out how to measure the success (or failure) of your campaign or initiative is, “Why?” Why” are you investing time and resources into a particular campaign? What do you hope to get out of it? Ultimately, your PR efforts should support your business objectives, so don’t stop asking, “Why?” until you get there.

Agree on measurement goals upfront: Shonali says that her biggest challenge in measuring the ROI on PR is that some companies sometimes think of measurement as an afterthought. Her advice is to bring it front and center. In fact, she doesn’t sign contracts until she and her client have agreed on the measurement goals they’re working towards.

Deirdre Breakenridge (@dbreakenridge) is CEO at Pure Performance Communications, adjunct professor at New York University, and author of five books. She agrees with Shonali on setting measurement goals up-front. But she says you also need to determine in the beginning how to quantify and benchmark progress over time.

Don’t just analyze outputs – also benchmark against competition: Aaron Brown (@abrownFMPR), senior vice president at Fahlgren Mortine, says that his method of measuring share of editorial discussion resonates with his clients. This approach requires analysis against key competitors within target strategic areas in a defined set of media. So, if technology is an area of emphasis for the brand, how is it performing on technology-related topics against competitors in the most influential media outlets?

Broken-Silo-2Break down the silos: Deirdre Breakenridge likes making the connection between spikes in PR coverage, website traffic and then conversions to leads/sales, but says it’s important to work closely with other areas of marketing, web and sales to have access to data that may not be readily available. When you break down the silos you can show a more accurate picture of ROI.

Julie Wright (@juliewright), president of (W)right On Communications agrees with Deirdre. She thinks of PR as fitting with the flywheel concept in the book Good to Great by Jim Collins. When you are doing many things right across social media, PR, branding and more, you can achieve a better overall outcome than when you take a siloed approach to your communications.

Aaron Brown says, the best measurement approach crosses silos and accounts for earned, owned, paid and shared media. This helps to account for all of the ways target audiences engage with the brand. Failure to incorporate these areas of marketing and communications leads to a measurement report with holes.

Use social media for a two-way dialogue: Jennifer Dulles (@DStreetTweet), president of D Street PR, advocates for social media listening. Today, we can poll audiences, ask people their preferences and see where they are going. It’s a much richer world for measuring results than back in the days when we had to hire a survey research firm for pre and post-telephone surveys. When brands need to measure sentiment or gauge whether opinions changed, they can simply ask.

Give it time: Julie Wright says that moving the needle and making an impact requires a sustained commitment. However, many companies are looking for a one-time silver bullet to timeachieve their communication goals. If you think of communicating with your stakeholders in the same way you think about it with your spouse, you know it is not a process that you turn on and off at will or just give it your all every once in a while. Predictable, consistent and, of course, interesting communication is the key to building trust and relationships with your audiences.

Ultimately, in our data driven world, it’s a challenge to show dollar-for-dollar the value of public relations. But PR does have its benefits, even if we struggle to explain them. Julie Wright said the best measurement tool she ever had was a line out the door at her client’s store after an article hit on their product. How’s that for value?

Originally posted on Huffington Post.