You know you've "made it" when you get invited on a press trip. You've worked hard to grow your audience, agonized over every word you publish, and analyzed your Pinterest traffic to death, so when the PR's come knocking, you enjoy a fist-pumpingly satisfying "Hell Yes!" moment to yourself before rushing out to tell your friends and family that your hard work is finally paying off.
And while you're super excited for your pending travels (and we're all happy for you, trust me) here's something to ponder — if you plan on posting about your experience, what will your readers get out of it?
Far too often, I come across a blogger who's had the fortune of going on a press trip only to gush about the fun she had, the sights she's seen, the food she indulged in, the camaraderie she felt with the other bloggers . . . which, I'll be honest, is awesome, but really . . . what's in it for us, your audience?
Don't get me wrong — I LOVE hearing about all the new experiences that blogging brings to people's lives, but chances are slim that I'm ever going to get to dip my toes into the milky blue hot springs of Iceland, so really, will I care enough about your blog post that journalizes your visit to the Nordic island to share it with my friends and family? Probably not, unless it's accompanied by the most amazing photographs I've ever seen and I just can't fight the urge to Pin them.
And sure, the brand sponsoring your trip wants you to talk about your experience (more than you realize), but if no one is reading or sharing your content, then did you ever really write it? It's like one of those "if a tree falls in the woods" situations . . .
Engagement and shares of your posts are what sponsors really care about, because it makes your audience aware that they exist and that they have cool products and experiences that you just gotta have. So how do you get your readers to CARE enough about your recent escapades to share your posts? I'll tell you in the next 10 steps, so buckle up.
1. Plan Ahead
Think about every situation you could run into while on your press trip, and I mean everything. From packing the right clothes to transportation, to your flight, to your hotel, excursions, and everything in between. Write down every single post idea that pops into your head in a Google Doc or in a notebook. This is really the fun part about prepping for a press trip because you get to daydream about everything you hope to see and do.
2. Look at Your Greatest Hits
Dig into your archives and identify your 5-10 most popular posts of all time. Is there a way to recreate these posts through the lens of your press trip? Let's say you're a food blogger who's going on a food and wine tour of Napa Valley. You found that your most popular post is a list of 10 things you didn't know about popcorn, so maybe you can recreate that post with 10 things you didn't know about Napa Valley wines, or even better: the best wines to pair with popcorn. I'd read AND share that post.
Get inspired by your most popular content and keep it top of mind while out on your trip so you can look for ways to recreate those wins!
3. Stay in Your Lane
Now that you've written down every idea you could think of, narrow that list down into post ideas that relate to your niche. If we're keeping with the food blogger example from earlier, keep your A-List ideas related to food. Quick breakfasts you can make the night before a flight, ways to get that "Napa Valley Experience" with the snacks you have on hand every day, the ins and outs of checking wine in your bag (or shipping it home), and more. Keep your audience in mind when compiling your A-List Ideas so that your fun and fancy press trip doesn't alienate them — you want your audience to get as much value from this trip as possible, and you definitely don't want them wondering if they've stumbled across a strange blog by posting about things you wouldn't have otherwise.
4. Ask About Publishing Dates
Before you start live blogging from the terminal about the most amazing panini you've ever had in your life, ask your PR rep if there are any embargoes or restrictions on when you can start publishing. The last thing you want to do is tell your readers you're on your way to Napa to taste test a fancy new restaurant that hasn't been announced yet.
While you're at it, make sure you ask about the trip hashtags, handles, and include any required disclosures in your planning docs so you can stay on top of the legalities. Any content you create while in transit, or while at the events, will need to have the appropriate disclaimer attached!
5. Keep Your Eyes Open
Be on the lookout for tiny details your readers might be interested in hearing about (via a blog post or social media). For example, maybe someone packed a picnic lunch for their layover and have their spread laid out on the terminal floor, or you sit next to someone who packed an uncut mango in their carry-on and are dying to know how they cut into it while in-flight. Talk about a food hack!
6. Think Visually
While your eyes are wide open, take all the pictures and videos your camera can handle. You'll never know when or how you can re-use those images for future posts, and eliminate the use of stock images. Bring along extra memory cards, batteries, and chargers!
7. Get The Assets
Even if you are an ace photographer, it's good to have a backup. It's likely that your organizer will have hired a photographer to take some images of your group while you're out and about enjoying the countryside. Ask to get copies of the photos to use in your posts just in case your pics turned out blurry or your camera ran out of juice.
In addition, ask to get the links and information for every place you visited. This way, you won't be left guessing and can give your audience the best, most complete information possible.
8. Stay Classy on Social Media
There's nothing worse than dark, unfocused images on Instagram, so if your PR reps encourage you to social while you're on your press trip, make sure the images are of value to your followers. Don't just Instagram for the sheer sake of Instagramming — keep your images clear and bright and well-lit, and if you can, include some kind of valuable information in the caption. Love the wine you're tasting? Don't just take a pic and caption it "Yum!", be sure to say why you love it, what you're eating with it, and where it can be found.
Oh, and while we're on the subject, hashtag dumps are so 2010. If you must add the sponsored trip hashtags, do so in the first comment, not the main caption! Keep your captions clean and clear for your audience to enjoy.
9. Round It Up
I've always aimed for about 5-10 solid posts for every press trip I've attended, and it's not just about the fun I had visiting the location or trying out the new products, either — I'm on the lookout for travel tips, observances in the culture, "best of" lists, "things you didn't know" lists, and small things that would help my audience in some way shape or form. For example, here's a pro tip: don't forget to make copies of your passport when you're going out of the country. It makes losing your documents so much less stressful!
When you're done, it might be helpful to round up your coverage in some way, like posting all the links in one blog post. not only does it help your audience find all the helpful and insightful content you created while on this press trip, but it makes a nice landing page for the sponsor as well.
10. Wrap It Up
Speaking of the sponsor, creating a wrap-up report of all your work will score you major points the next time a press trip, sponsorship, or even an ambassadorship opportunity rolls around. If you have time to create a wrap-up report, consider including:
- Links to all of your content
- Visits and shares for each post
- Links to all the places you shared the content (Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook, etc.)
- Retweets, Repins, Likes of your posts
- Screenshots if you included any of your press trip coverage in your email newsletter
This will make it super easy on your PR reps, and will show the brand you are well-organized and easy to work with.
How do you handle press trip coverage? Leave a comment below and share your experiences!
They're fun, but we all know that free trips won't pay the bills, so if you're ready to make some real money from your blog, check out my FREE guide, 7 Ways to Turn Your Blog Into a Moneymaking Machine by clicking the button below. It's free to download so you can start putting these strategies into action today!