Press Trip Etiquette for Bloggers

Ritz Carlton Tysons Corner Renovated Suite - Press Trip Etiquette for Bloggers by popular Washington DC travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Last fall, I chatted about how to ramp up your travel blogging partnerships, and it was one of my most buzzed-about posts of 2017. Let’s say you’re a little more experienced: you’re headed to a hotel stay or a FAM in the next few months, and you’re wondering how to handle yourself. Even though travel blogging is an excellent experience, it is still work: and you still need to be a professional from beginning to end.

A lot of companies that organize press trips also work with travel writers from regional and national media outlets as well — they’re not working with just bloggers/influencers. I’ve talked to a few PR folks that have worked with bloggers who haven’t been the most pleasant to work with, and this devastates me: in our industry, it only takes one bad apple to ruin it for us all.

Here are some of my tips and tips on how to look like the most seasoned travel blogger on your next trip.
 
Press Trip Etiquette for Bloggers by popular Washington DC travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Press Trip vs. FAM: Bringing Guests

One of the first learning curves with press trips? Learning the difference between a press trip and a FAM, and whether you can bring a guest or not. I define a press trip as an experience where I’m the only media outlet invited to an experience, and a FAM is when multiple bloggers and travel writers are hosted on one trip. 

If it’s a press trip, most of the time they’ll understand that you need to bring a guest. If I bring a guest, I let my guest know that this isn’t going to be a leisurely vacation: we have a tight itinerary, they have to help me out with photography, and they need to be on their best behavior. For FAM trips, most of the time you’re not allowed to bring a guest — but I always ask in advance. This might sound nerve-racking, but I love going on FAM trips with other writers I’ve never met before: some of the people I’ve met on FAM trips have become really good friends!

Review the Itinerary in Advance & Note Any Issues

You’ll be provided a copy of the itinerary in advance before a trip, and if there are any major conflicts that you see on it, notify your contact immediately. For example, I’m headed on a FAM trip next month, and it includes a hike. I’m still recovering from a knee injury, and I’m physically unable to complete the hike. However, I’m letting the CVB know well in advance that I’m unable to do this portion of the trip. This way, they can either schedule another activity for me or I can have a PR rep stay behind with me while the others enjoy the hike.

To Tip or Not To Tip?

When you’re on a FAM trip with other writers, typically the tourism board or CVB that you’re partnering with will take care of any checks and tip accordingly.

However, when you’re on a press trip by yourself? If you have a meal that is comped, I would highly recommend asking if gratuity is included or not. Sometimes it will be, but most often it isn’t. I rarely carry cash, but I’ll ask the restaurant to run my card for a dollar so that I can leave a tip, and I like to tip 20-25% of the value of our meal.

Press Trip Etiquette for Bloggers by popular Washington DC travel blogger Alicia Tenise

Say Your Proper Thank-Yous & Follow Up

Guys…please make sure to say thank you. I like to email within 48 hours of returning home from the experience, and if I had an experience that was exceptionally great,  I might send a hand-written thank you note or send baked goods/flowers to the team (rare, but it happens!)

In my thank you note, if I’m planning on writing a blog post about the experience, I like to give them an approximate date that it will go live. If I’m being paid on top of the trip, the turnaround time is a lot shorter for me to get a post up. If an experience is unpaid, I still aim to post on the blog within a 2-month timeframe — since I shoot a lot of photos on a trip, it takes a longer time for me to sort through photos and figure out my exact angle for a post. 

How to Cover Your Experience

I’ve been on some press trips and FAMs that are pretty laid back, and that don’t set hard guidelines for coverage: they just hope that if you enjoyed your experience, you’d want to share it on all of your platforms. I’ve also been on some trips where they say right off the bat that you need to post a certain about of times on certain platforms. 

I’m always a fan of underpromising and overdelivering: I went on one trip where 3 Instagram Stories were required, and I ended up posting 7 of them. Keep track of every social mention you make and every inclusion for a blog post — the folks who are coordinating the trip want to measure reach and ROI from a press trip and/or FAM, so you’ll want to keep track of everything!

Always Be Honest

Not every trip is going to be an ideal experience for you. Just because you received something complimentary, doesn’t mean that you should give it a glowing review.

If you didn’t enjoy something about your trip, I would let your contact know in your follow-up email. I don’t have to do this too often since I review the itinerary before a trip and make sure I’m aligned with it, but sometimes things happen. A little constructive, polite notes about a trip can go a long way. Sometimes I’ll omit parts of a press trip that I genuinely didn’t enjoy, or don’t think would resonate with my readers.

What are your press trip tips and tricks?

28 Comments

  1. Miss ALK wrote:

    This is such a great post Alicia! It’s been so exciting to watch the travel side of your blog flourish this past year. I went on my first press trip in December and definitely used some of these tips you mentioned today! 🙂

    xoxo A
    http://www.southernbelleintraining.com

    Posted 1.8.18
    • Thank you so much lady! Can’t wait to see where you get to go in 2018!

      Posted 1.9.18
  2. Shenali Apsara wrote:

    this is great. thank you for sharing those tips and specially the last one is my fav 🙂 being honest is always good.

    Posted 1.8.18
    • Thanks so much Shenali!

      Posted 1.9.18
  3. I loved reading this post! It’s been a secret goal of mine to find a way to do more press or FAM trips and I have been researching it a bit. Loved reading your perspective on press trips and I have loved following your adventures on your blog and Instagram!

    Posted 1.8.18
    • Thank you Amanda! I know you can achieve that goal of doing more trips this year!

      Posted 1.9.18
  4. Dana Mannarino wrote:

    Such a great post, I need to do more press trips instead of reaching out and pitching myself. I want to make sure I’m getting the full experience to share with my readers. Love your tips!

    The Champagne Edit

    Posted 1.8.18
    • Which reminds me….I finally want to plan a trip for all my blogger friends this year and have you there!!

      Posted 1.9.18
      • Dana Mannarino wrote:

        I am SO down! xx

        Posted 1.10.18
  5. Awesome tips! I’ve never done a press trip of FAM but I feel like these tips on how to handle oneself professionally can be applied in other places as well!

    Posted 1.8.18
    • Thank you so much Cynthia!

      Posted 1.9.18
  6. These are great tips! I haven’t done a ton of these, but I hope to ramp them up in 2018, so this is really well timed. Excellent post!

    Posted 1.8.18
    • Thank you Nicole! I totally think you can ramp them up this year!

      Posted 1.9.18
  7. Jenni L. wrote:

    These are wonderful tips! I haven;t gone on a press trip yet, but I’m glad to have read the advice you have here!

    Posted 1.8.18
    • Thanks Jenni! I hope you get to go on a trip soon!

      Posted 1.9.18
  8. Marissa Pedersen wrote:

    Great tips! I was so confused when I first started going on trips. I always make sure to tip for press trips.

    Posted 1.8.18
    • I was clueless when I first started too, such a new concept!

      Posted 1.9.18
  9. Vicki wrote:

    Great info! I’m hoping to do some press and FAM trips during 2018!

    Posted 1.8.18
    • Thanks Vicki! I hope you crush your goal!

      Posted 1.9.18
  10. Jenny wrote:

    Love these tips! I’ve only been on one press trip so far and it was so fun so I’m looking to do more in 2018.

    Posted 1.8.18
    • I’m sure you’re going to go on some fab press trips this year!!

      Posted 1.9.18
  11. Sophia Damasceno wrote:

    I have not gone on any trips yet as I am still a new blogger but I hope to in the future and these tips make a lot of sense. I will remember these! Thank you for sharing them.

    Posted 1.9.18
  12. I used to work on the brand side of influencer marketing and while I had many great experiences with bloggers, I also had some not so great interactions. These tips are important to follow if you want to get hired for a second time!

    Gennifer Rose | http://www.GenniferRose.com

    Posted 1.9.18
  13. Lauren wrote:

    This is a great post for bloggers who are new to this experience. I am kind of shocked how many bloggers who have tried to turn a press trip into a leisurely vacation. I am a stickler for being on time, so it surprises me when people decide to miss events.

    Posted 1.9.18
  14. Crystal Marie wrote:

    Good tips. I used to be in PR and now am a blogger. You hit it on the money.

    Posted 1.9.18
  15. Great tips, I wouldn’t add a thing. Press trips are a lot of work and although they are fun, you are there to do a job.

    Posted 1.10.18
  16. This was such an interesting read, Alicia! It makes me want to work for a company that organizes these press trips (ha ha)! I’m excited to read more about upcoming travel from you!

    Lisa
    http://www.theeeverydayelevated.com

    Posted 1.11.18
  17. Roketa Dumas wrote:

    I’ve been invited on my first FAM trip and am so excited as I’m hoping it will be a chance to not only learn about a new place, but meet some new bloggers and writers. These were such great tips that I will definitely keep in mind!

    Posted 1.15.18

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