We previously introduced How to organize a successful media trip in GwB (read it here). Today I am bringing you a detailed step-by-step guide as promised. Every media trip is different, so I am going to be quite generic in this post.
Get a cup of tea and some cookies, this one is longer than usual!
Start by organizing a brainstorming session with your team to look for story angles for the media trip. You should take into consideration: the purpose of the trip, the clients you want to include in the project, the services you think you will require and an initial time planning.
Write down all the ideas and put on a shortlist around 5 of them. Once this session is finished, schedule a meeting with your client and discuss the trip angles.
Let the client participate with new ideas, maybe he/she is about to launch a new product that could fit perfectly with the media trip. Discuss what your client is willing to give for free and in which terms and condition. Ask if they have targeted a specific editor they’d like to meet.
Try your client to get excited about the trip and explain why it is important to do team work and to join forces. Your client might not be aware of the organizational efforts a media trip require. So just be clear and -if possible- ask him/her who will be the contact person for media trips in their company. Schedule an extra meeting if necessary.
How many participants are you expecting to attend the media trip? Is it going to be an individual or a group trip? This information matters to you and your client, but it also matters to the people you are inviting.
Considering that, create customized invitations paying special attention to the type of media they work for, their target reader and any other personal requirement you may be aware of (are they into ecology? Are they vegetarians? Do they smoke? Do they have kids?).
Always start the invitations addressing the name of each person and try to find the perfect balance between being professional and being personal. Include basic details in the invitation: what the media trip is going to be about, what its purpose is, how many days it will last, possible dates, travel details, who is organizing and sponsoring it…
Include a note about the “type of exchange” you will expect from the participant. Send the invitations over to each person individually and let the magic begin. In a perfect scenario, all the participants would reply positively.
Once you have confirmed the media trip participants, prepare a database (including name and surname, job title, media outlet, audience, exchange…) and send it over to your client. All this information may be useful if you run out of budget and you are obliged to decide among the best publications.
Start drafting a program, formatted as an itinerary. On the first page, include all relevant details about the trip: flights, hotels, food, transfer, … When talking about these services, my suggestion is to be specific about what is sponsored and what is not. Are you offering half board instead of B&B? Say it.
Then schedule the media trip activities day by day. Worried about what to include? Try with a meeting with a personal shopper, a luxurious treatment in a Spa, a beauty counselling session, a training session with a fitness instructor, a yoga lesson on the beach, a tour around the city centre… You name it! The nature of these activities depends on the focus of the trip and your client’s activity. But above all, it depends on what you want the media to talk about.
Send this first draft program to your client for approval, and then send it to the participant. Be open to making changes and correcting stuff.
Once everybody is OK about the program, start asking and confirming services to the providers. Even if calling them on the phone is fine for a verbal confirmation, you’d better ask them officially via email and track their responses. Ask for a contact person (name/surname, position, telephone) at each and every point of the program and give them your contact details as well.
- TRANSFER: Are you taking care of the transfer? You should. This would guarantee that everything goes according to plan. Asking the participant to take a cab to go from A to B is risky (what if he/she decides to go shopping and then forgets about the time?). So for the best results you should hire a professional transfer with a comfortable car. It is better if the relationship between you and the driver is excellent, so that you can ask for last minute favours if needed.
- HOTEL: Control the board, the room type, the reservation number, any extra services… Oh, aren’t you booking the hotel yourself? Then call the hotel and ask them if the reservation is 100% confirmed. Leave your phone number as well if that makes you feel calmer. Remember that you have a guest who doesn’t need to suffer a heart attack at the hotel reception after finding out that they don’t have a room for him/her.
- FLIGHTS: When booking, always try to get the faster and most comfortable trip for the participant (ask in advance about his/her preferences). Collect all the flight data from the ticket and double check dates and times with the travel agency or the airline.
Collect all the above information and write it down in the program. Send it over to your client and to the participant and make sure you have a printed copy available at all times.
Everything I can tell you at this point are just personal suggestions, as each and every media trip is different from the others. So my rules may not apply!
However, my biggest advice is to be the perfect host, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and to ALWAYS be available. I will publish a bonus chapter called Pro Tips for the Best Media Tours this week for those of you needing an extra input.
The media trip has ended and you sort of feel relieved after the high level of pressure you’ve suffered. But do not lower your guard! You must do some follow up.
Call your client to get a feedback and write all the different perceptions of the trip (positive and negative). Ask if there is a way of improving the experience and be receptive.
Call the participant or write a nice email thanking him/her for coming and asking for feedback. If it was a positive experience for your team and client, let him/her know. Also, show that you are available for any matter from now on.
When the expected publication date is approaching, you should contact the participant again and ask about how it is going. Don’t be pushy, just ask politely and gently.
Do you need some more details or further instructions? Write me an email.
Source: Wave Rider. Annabella Barber by photographer Simon Lekias for Harper’s Bazaar Australia January 2013.