We often get approached by journalists requesting complimentary holidays or accommodation bookings. More often than not, they have a particular place in mind having looked at our site. We also get asked whether any of our members run press trips which are more formal, specially organised trips for groups of journalists. Not all publications are looking for complimentary travel, some are self-funded Ė itís purely dependent on the editorial policy of that particular publication.
How could this benefit my business?
Such opportunities can be a great chance for some positive publicity and a good chance to help generate bookings. In return for funding a journalistís place on a holiday or a stay at your hotel or guesthouse, they will write about it in their publication.
Depending on the publication, the tone and type of review your business receives and the degree of exposure for your business in the write up, such press coverage can positively increase your bookings and enquiries. Obviously by funding a journalist, you could potentially be forfeiting the place of a paying customer, so it is important to weigh up the pros and cons of the opportunity carefully.
How can I find out about such opportunities?
If a journalist contacts us with a specific trip in mind then our Communications Manager, Krissy Roe, will be in touch with you directly.
What happens next?
1) After Krissy has presented you with the opportunity, you decide if the opportunity is one that you wish to pursue (see below for tips on this). We are happy to act as a facilitator here but ultimately it is a business decision for you. Remember that if you are not in a position to fund complimentary places, you might want to consider offering the journalist a media rate (a specially discounted rate).
2) If you do want to go ahead, we will leave you to liaise directly with the journalist and to agree any conditions that you may wish to attach to the agreement (again, see more on this below). We just ask that you keep Krissy informed on the arrangements as you go.
3) Lastly we will develop a branded shortcut link to your relevant holiday page(s) on Responsible Travel (for example www.responsibletravel.com/countkalnokyguesthouses ). This is given to the journalist as the main contact information (which usually appears at the end of the article).
Tips on agreeing to fund journalists
More than anything it is important for both the journalist and the travel provider to be honest about their requirements from the outset. For you, this means asking as many questions as you can to find out their expectations and the likely return. It is only then that you can truly assess how valuable the opportunity is to your business.
Whether you are looking to set something up via Responsible Travel media contacts or separately via your own contacts, here are some things to consider.
Which publication is the journalist writing for? Is it a well known newspaper or magazine? Is it a publication that is read by your target audience? Itís also worth finding out whether the piece will go online too as this can help drive direct bookings and enquiries. Donít forget to find out roughly when the piece is likely to be publishedĖ is it a time of year when you are looking to drive bookings as much as possible e.g. the start of a new season?
Are they a freelance journalist or a member of staff at the publication? If they are a freelancer, find out if the piece has actually been commissioned or whether they are looking to take the trip and then write it up and pitch it to editors on their return (the former is obviously a more reliable situation from your point of view)? If the journalist hasnít been commissioned then find out a bit more about them as a writer so as to ascertain the likeliness of the article eventually appearing in print. Who have they written for before? Can you see examples of their work or find them on the internet?
The monetary commitment required
What degree of funding is required? Are they looking for a funded place on a holiday? Do they need flights / arrival transportation too? If itís accommodation then how many nights are they looking for? Are they expecting meals to be included?
The very nature of editorial compared to adverts means that you will never be able to have full control over what the journalist writes about your business. However, it is useful to try and get a rough idea of the type of article that may result. What angle and tone are they likely to take? Is the journalist planning to write the visit up as a review e.g. an entire article about their experience staying at your B&B and the surrounding area? Or is it part of a comparison piece for which the journalist will be taking several different trips or staying at a handful of places in order to compare his/her experience at each? Or perhaps itís for a smaller article, mentioning your organisation only briefly? Find out how many words / pages the piece is likely to be. Is it for a special edition or feature and therefore likely to receive additional exposure e.g. promotion on the front page etc. The ultimate aim here is to establish the value of the resulting exposure.
Internal business factors
Ask yourself whether it is more valuable to your business to gain the publicity resulting from a media visit compared to the profit of selling that place to a customer Ė obviously this will depend on availability, seasonal factors and many other things. You should also consider whether you will be able to properly host them when they arrive. It is more than likely that theyíll want to chat to you about the business and hear stories about the local area, local people, traditions, cultures etc. Do you have the resources to ensure the journalist is hosted properly?
If you have any further questions please contact our Communications Team at firstname.lastname@example.org