So it’s your first press trip and you’re nervous but excited at the same time. Excited because you’ve just landed a big gig with a CVB/tourism board and anxious at the same time because you’re not really sure what to expect and you don’t know if you’ll be ready.
Preparation is key with every trip I’ve been on. Here is my checklist of things to make sure you do before you head out to make sure your press trip goes smoothly and without a hitch.
- Before you go, make sure you’ve received all your travel details. If you haven’t, don’t be afraid to follow up with your contact.
- Double check all the details – Names, dates, times, loyalty #’s. Spot mistakes early so changes can be made.
- Think about the details – Will you be picked up? Where will the rep be waiting?
- Contacts – Do you have contact numbers of the folks on the ground that will be hosting the trip? Make sure you get their numbers in case something goes wrong like a delayed flight.
- Make sure you ask for a trip itinerary if you haven’t been given one. For a FAM trip, you’ll be given a relatively fixed schedule while an independent trip will have the freedom of moving things around.
- It’s very important to make sure you get the contact details of the people you’ll be working with on the ground. E-mails are good but in a bind you’re going to need phone numbers too so make sure you have that in the itinerary or jotted down somewhere else.
- Review the itinerary and make sure you have a good idea of what you’ll be doing when you get there.
- At this point it would be a good idea to do a little high level research about each spot so you can mentally decide which place you want to put more focus/time into for the story you want to write.
Social media scheduling
While social media sharing will be a big part of what you’ll be doing on the press trip, you want to make you have all your bases covered before you head out in order to alleviate a bit of the live workload.
- Set up a minimum of one tweet per location you’re going to and time it based on your itinerary. You want to make sure you tag all the right Twitter handles to make sure they see it. Essentially you want to WOW them with your social media prowess. Of course you’re going to be doing all that stuff on the go as well but this covers your ass if you don’t have access to data for some reason or if you’re too busy to share on the go.
- As part of the above, research and find out the Twitter handles and Instagram usernames of all the places you’re going to.
- Find out what hashtags they want you to use. Feel free to make one up for yourself for your fans to follow.
- See if any of the places you’re going to have specific hashtags they like to use and make sure you use them as well. This is great for exposure because fans of that place may be searching for that hashtag.
Get to know who you’re going with
- This applies more FAM trips but the idea is that you want to do a little pre-networking or stalking before the trip starts to know who you’ll be with for the duration of the trip
- Don’t know who else is on the trip? You can typically find out who is on your trip through the email CC’s or they may send out tweets to everyone that’s going.
Outside of normal travel packing tips, there are just a few things you want to pay attention to.
- Make sure you pack appropriately for all the activities on the itinerary. For instance if you know you’ll be doing a lot of outdoor winter activities, make sure you have the appropriate gear to stay warm.
- Pay careful attention to formal clothes required to determine how many fancy outfits you have to bring.
- Your phone’s battery is going to drain so fast when you’re on a press trip because of all the photos/videos you’ll be taking and social media work you’ll be doing on the go. Buy and bring a portable battery pack with you like my Xiaomi 10,400 mAH power bank good for 4 full charges of my phone. You don’t want to freak out when your phone dies in the middle of the day. It’s not fun.
- Camera gear – Make sure you pack everything for the type of shooting you want to do and charge all of your batteries before heading out (in case you need to hit the ground running). I always set a reminder in my calendar to change the time on my camera because you really don’t want to have to change it during your post-processing. Lastly, to make your life easier, reformat all of your cards so you’re starting clean on each one, making it easier when importing.
- Make sure you have enough business cards to hand out to the various places you visit and journalists you meet on the trip.
- Are you going to somewhere where you won’t have data coverage? Then you may want to consider something like Roamability in the US or doing some planning to figure out what pre-paid SIM cards to get like One2Free when I was in Hong Kong
- If you plan on using your home cell phone plane on the road, make sure you research the roaming plans and activate it before you head out. You don’t want to get dinged those non-package rates. Trust me, I’ve been there.
- Make sure you have enough memory on your phone. You’ll be taking lots of photos and videos and you don’t want to get that “Storage is almost full” message during your trip.
- Going somewhere COLD
- This deserves its own subsection because of how much of an issue this was in Quebec in -40C temperatures. Batteries last 1/4-1/2 of its normal life. If you’re going to cold climates like this, make sure you bring extra battery packs. Portable chargers are even more of a must.
If you’re at the stage where you’re looking to learn how to pitch to get these press trips, make sure you head over to my article that lays out the fundamentals of how to pitch to destinations and travel PR.
Alright so that’s all I can think of. Do you have any tips of things that you do to prepare for a press trip? Drop a line and let me know! I’ll be continuously adding new things to this list.