A press trip might be seen as a free holiday to many an overworked and underpaid influencer or journalist, but planning the perfect one can be a daunting experience for any PR agency.
Clients, PRs and the media share some common goals when it comes to cracking this particular nut; namely a juicy story resulting in awesome coverage, a better understanding of the brand and developing long-lasting relationships with key players at the company. And if it leads to some lasting memories as well all the better.
Companies often focus too much on the here and now when it comes to such shindigs, overlooking longer-term goals. “The biggest benefit is cementing long-lasting relationships with media that add value way beyond the lifetime of a specific event, rather than any stories coming directly from the trip in question,” says Little Red Rooster co-founder Henry Griffiths. “A truly successful jaunt will keep delivering a ROI, often for years, and this is something brands always overlook”.
Obviously every press trip is different and there is no exact science to their success, but by following a tried and tested framework – with an added pinch of Little Red Rooster rock ‘n’ roll – our aim is always to ensure all parties get a return on their investment, whether it’s time or money.
“A good mix of people you know value the brand you’re representing is a must,” says agency co-founder Victoria Ruffy, referring to the creation of a carefully curated invite list “There is nothing better than having one or two trusted ambassadors on board that you can rely on, but it’s also important to include new people on the trip so you expand the brand to new audiences.”
By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail, so says Benjamin Franklin and the rule certainly applies to press trips. It’s imperative planning begins months in advance to avoid mishaps later down the line.
Cost plays a part here. Most people book holidays early to get the best deal on hotels and travel and a press trip is no different – it’s even more important if a client is on a tight budget.
Plus, by achieving the best balance of cost effectiveness versus comfort it leaves more money for experiential brand activities that can make all the difference to your guests, whether it’s spectacular meals or maybe a music gig… we’ve even been known to attend a Mötley Crüe tribute show on Sunset Strip in LA.
Another factor is availability. The best journalists get booked up, so to snare the best you need to get in there early. You also need to make sure the trip is enjoyable. “We’ve heard horror stories of four-day itineraries where every hour is full and there is no flexibility or downtime,” says Henry.
“Journalists shudder when they see these kinds of plans. You want your guests to come back with some good memories. It shouldn’t be a slog and less is certainly more in this instance”.
“We want to make the whole process as pleasant as possible so it’s also important to factor in things like airport transfers and attractive flight times,” adds Victoria.
“Itineraries should be signed off at the earliest opportunity and shared with journalists so they have a chance to plan other commitments around it. Allowing free time in the schedule is vital too so there’s a chance to relax or open the laptop and get some work done.”
Already this year we’ve taken top-ranking members of the media to the US, Germany, Italy and Austria, and as an agency we’re well versed in delivering on press trip promises once we’ve arrived at a destination.
It takes more than organising three meals-a-day, keeping everyone watered and getting the group to a press briefing on time – although that’s a decent start. “Some people may want to head back to the hotel after lunch, while others may fancy another glass of wine or two… and it wouldn’t be very Little Red Rooster to deprive them,” says Victoria.
“But the key is to be flexible to each journalist’s specific requirements and have plenty of options lined up. We often create bespoke itineraries for each guest on a trip, as we know what will interest them”.
As part of the planning process we consult as closely with journalists as we do with clients to achieve press trip nirvana. Jeremy White, executive editor at Wired UK, has attended many LRR trips and we certainly value his opinion. He was part of the reason our visit to the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in January was done with a difference.
Rather than suffer the exhaustive slog of a Las Vegas convention for an entire week, we based ourselves in LA for some much needed rest and relaxation either side of the show, before hitting the exhibition for a short, sharp 72 hours.
“There is no secret to a good press trip, but it is an art,” says Jeremy. “Small things such as knowing where you are going and why, contact numbers, press releases, media imagery and video all to hand is a solid starting point.
“Shepherding tiresome journalists with a smile and generally a ‘nothing being too much trouble’ attitude means you’re onto a winner. All this is obvious, yet sadly not common.
“What else elevates a press trip is going outside the norm of getting people to an event and making sure they get home by making the trip fun. Factor in time for enjoyment beyond drinks in the hotel.”
“I don’t think many PR agencies would put together the kind of trip Little Red Rooster did for CES,” adds interiors journalist extraordinaire Claudia Baillie. “If it’s a longer trip then some sort of ‘treat’ is particularly welcome, i.e. the chance to go somewhere not related to the company, or somewhere fun, or to do something relaxing.”
Pampering aside, Claudia has some other top tips for PRs putting together the perfect press trip. “I go to Maison & Objet in Paris every year. The Eurostar is early because it has to be, but we’re given a £10 gift card for the coffee shop so we can get what we want in our own time. It’s a small touch, but I really like it and anything thoughtful like that is a bonus.
“Free time is good. I went to Salone del Mobile in Milan and the brand only wanted a day’s worth of commitment, but paid for two nights at the hotel. It meant the second day was free to do as we pleased, which was mighty generous considering the cost of hotels in Milan during the fair.
“Flights at a decent hour and transport to the airport is also good. I was asked to be at the airport at some ungodly hour not so long ago and they refused to get me a cab. I’m not a princess, but there was no other way of getting there at that time and as a freelancer I don’t have the luxury of claiming things back.
“Don’t pack an itinerary so tightly that there’s no downtime, because trips where they really want a pound of flesh aren’t fun. I recently refused a trip to New York because it was one night and a full schedule. Some PRs think because they’re flying you somewhere you should be grateful and they aren’t prepared to make the trip enjoyable.”
With a growing roster of incredible clients headquartered across Europe and beyond, plus a jam-packed calendar of tantalising events to take journalists to, we’re hugely excited by the potential for more press trips.
Stellar excursions for our brands Bang & Olufsen and Sound United are just around the corner and the team are already plotting an even bigger and better experience at CES in 2019.
Mastering the art of the press trip is a tricky business, but it helps to have a vastly experienced PR agency to steer the ship. First and foremost Little Red Rooster has the best interests of clients and journalists at heart when it’s time to pack a suitcase, but we’re also guaranteed to inject some fun – something other agencies almost always forget.