This is a guest post by Christy and Scott.
We have been getting this question from many bloggers since recently securing our first press trip. I know this is high on many travel writers/bloggers list of things to accomplish, so I’ve written down the steps I take when requesting a press trip.
First thing to keep in mind about press trips is that you can’t be afraid to market yourself. Nine times out of ten, the press trips won’t come to you. You need to actively seek them out.
Put together a form letter to have ready to send to PR agencies.
For Ordinary Traveler, our letter includes:
1. Traffic Stats (Numbers from Google Analytics)
2. Alexa Score
3. RSS/Email Subscribers
4. Recognition Around the Web
5. Twitter Follower and Facebook Fan Numbers
Introduce your blog and let them know you have a loyal readership and specify what your readers are primarily interested in (ie: travel, photography, etc.). Even if your traffic stats are not high, it’s still possible to get a press trip if you show the company they can benefit from your blog promoting the destination.
Get creative and find a unique angle in which your blog can help bring tourism to that area. It is best to approach them with a way in which you can benefit them, rather than just asking for a freebie. Depending on who I’m contacting, I don’t always ask for a freebie. Sometimes I will just ask if they offer a media rate or a discount in exchange for a review or to promote an area.
We have had PR reps reply to our request by thanking us for such a thoughtful email. If you put time into drafting your letters/emails, you will come across as looking professional and as if you have done this before (even if you haven’t).
Find a place you either want to go or already have plans to visit.
My suggestion would be to approach PR reps during the area’s off-season. For instance, if you are looking to visit a National Park, plan on going in the winter months. This is their slow season and they are more likely to grant a press trip during winter than in the summer months when everyone and their mother wants to go.
After I have figured out the destination I want to go, I send out the form email, tailoring it to that specific area. For Scott and I, if we are going to a place that has waves, then I mention that we are surfers and our blog has a following of people interested in surfing.
There are a couple of different ways you can go about securing a press trip.
The first one is to contact tourism Bureaus for a country you want to visit. Sometimes they will pay for your flight (in our case they did, however I’ve been told this is not common). Other times they expect you to pay for your own flight, but they will pay (or give a discount) for your lodging and tours.
The second way is to contact hotels and tour companies directly and ask them if they would be interested in providing a discount in exchange for a review. This type of press trip is more common since you have a lot more options of hotels and tour companies to contact, rather than just one tourism bureau for an entire country.
This may be the most important part of going on a press trip. After the trip, follow through with what you told them you would do. If you said you would write 5 blog posts, then do it. Send them an email with the links and stats from each of those posts.
This is important not only for your blog’s reputation, but for travel bloggers as a whole. You don’t want to ruin the next bloggers chance at securing a press trip with the same company. Keep in mind that press trips are a great way to supplement your travel fund, but it should also be treated like any other job. In the end, you want the company to be happy they decided to sponsor you and your blog.
Have you been on Press Trip? Do you have any other tips for scoring free travel and swag?
Christy and Scott are two surfers riding waves around the world and sharing their experiences along with budget tips and unique photography. You can follow their adventures at www.ordinarytraveler.com or on their Facebook fan page http://www.facebook.com/OrdinaryTraveler.