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Sunday, May 29, 2016

The Manners Manifesto: A (Not Emily) Post* on Press Trip Etiquette

Wowser. It's your first press trip. A destination has asked you to come along for the ride, not because you are fabulous (although you may well be), but because you reach an audience that the destination wants to reach.  You are thrilled, thinking you have hit the jackpot. A press trip = a free vacation, right? Think again.

Press Trip in Georgia
The enticement of free travel is a large part of why so many are flocking to become travel bloggers. If you have the right numbers, or if you are a shrewd marketer, you can often get yourself on the press trip circuit. But if you want to ensure that you get to, and stay on, the press trip A-list, it’s best to behave yourself.

Prior to presenting this manifesto, let me note that the most important rule of the press trip club is to produce. Don't drink from the well without adequately covering the trip. This is not kosher. More on that in Part II.

The Press Trip Manners Manifesto

  1. This is not a vacation. Many in the public relations community often moan about newbie...and not-so-newbie...travel bloggers who approach them with the pitch that their family wants to go on vacation to XYZ.. Said bloggers fully expect PR pros to welcome the entire family with open arms, for free, in exchange for a post.  This isn’t the way it works. Press trips are working trips. You usually cannot/should not bring a companion, unless that's part of the trip (i.e. family press trips may ask reporters to bring a kid). If you want to take a vacation, pay for it yourself and go on your own time.

Group Press Trip on the Outer Banks, North Carolina

  1. Don’t be a hijacker. Your needs are not more important than those of others in the group. Don’t hijack the itinerary to suit your needs.  Group trips are planned to give everyone a taste of a destination, and oftentimes, to spread the publicity wealth throughout the local tourism community. That’s why, if you are on a group trip, you may have to visit a few places you wouldn’t normally go on your own.  To mix metaphors, shut up and dance and just do it.  There will be other activities that you are into that fellow group members aren’t.  Group trips are a compromise. Deal with it.
  1. Don’t don’t show up.  It’s rude to the rest of the group, it’s rude to your host, and it’s rude to an attraction/hotel/restaurant that has been swayed to comp you in exchange for likely coverage. Destinations work hard to get attractions and hotels to buy into the idea of hosting you. When you don’t show up, you embarrass the trip planner and help ensure that specific places may be less eager to help out on future press trips. Sure, that’s not your problem, but still...

On a press trip in Estonia
  1. DIY. If you do need to do something outside of scheduled activities, or can’t participate in an activity for health or other legitimate reasons, tell your host well in advance that you are opting out. If you do plan to leave the group, offer to make the alternate arrangements yourself. Your host will usually offer to help, but don’t count on it.

5. Don’t delay the group. Don’t be the one who is always late. It is simply rude not to show up on time. Also, don’t alter the group’s schedule so you can be dropped off somewhere out of the way on an opt-out activity.

Step on it so you don't delay the group.
Here, my first step on Russian soil.

6. Don’t get in the picture. If there’s a brilliant photo op, don’t be a hog. Take turns getting the shot. Also, don’t step into someone else’s shot. Be aware of where others are pointing their lens. Finally, don’t be obnoxious about taking selfies. 

Photobomb selectively.
With Devon Turchan in Georgia

7. This is not a free ride.

Even though, in your mind, this may be a free trip, don’t expect the host to pay for everything.

  • If you bring someone along, pay for their transportation expenses, and offer to pay for meals and attraction entries.
  • Bring money for tips, snacks and sundries. The host is not paying for your dry cleaning.
  • Be prepared to pay for drinks. Some destination marketing organizations (DMOs) are restricted when it comes to covering alcohol expenses.

Whirling Dervishes
Press Trip to Turkey
More tips to come in Part II.

Media relations professionals and writers, please add your comments here so that we can add amendments to the manifesto.

*For those not in the know, Emily Post has long been considered the doyenne of etiquette.

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