The Press Trip Is Not Dead

8 Tips for Planning Your Next Boondoggle Media Trip

I am a firm believer that any solid marketing plan, in the B2C space, should involve a cadence of media trips. That’s a sweeping statement, so let me clarify: I believe media trips are an incredible way to establish long-lasting relationships, and deliver ROI with journalists and social influencers for certain industries. Taking journalists to a remote jungle to test new software? Probably not be the best use of marketing dollars. But taking a journalist into a remote jungle to explore a new GPS device, now we’re talking.

Backbone hosts over a dozen media trips and events every year, in all shapes and sizes, so we have compiled the below list of tips and tricks that can be applied to almost any situation.

1 – Purpose – It’s important to take a step back and think, “what is the media going to get out of this?” and “why should this happen in-person, via an experiential trip, as opposed to over email?”

In the outdoor and active lifestyle industry we have an opportunity to really bring our clients’ brand and products to life. But there are many other consumer-facing industries who can capitalize on this same idea: product launches, brand launches, rebrands and big partnership announcements are all situations where media trips might make sense.

The media’s time is valuable and asking them to leave the office is a big ask, so ensuring that the hook is worthy of their time is key.

Media trip in Baja, Mexico

Learning how to surf in Baja, Mexico

2 – Budget – Media trips can be scaled to work with almost any budget, but I think it’s fair to assume that when you add up airfare, lodging, food & beverage, and incidentals it’s not a cheap tactic. Being up front about these costs from the start will help set expectations with your client. I always run on the assumption that if a brand is asking a journalist to attend a trip, they should be covering their expenses, soup-to-nuts.

Some simple ways to cut costs are through staffing, international vs. national trips, pulling-in freelancers or media who are based near the destination, and reaching out to resorts, hotels, and local chambers of commerce. If you are planning on bringing 10 top tier journalists to Belize to test out a new line of rash guards and bathing suits, who knows what a local resort or visitor bureau might offer up – often in the form of a “media rate” – knowing that their property and destination is likely to be mentioned in any post-trip coverage.

3 – Partnerships – Some brands are more sensitive to “sharing the spotlight” than others, however, inviting non-competing brands to take part in a trip can quickly increase the lure for a journalist and greatly offset the overall cost. Don’t get me wrong, if a brand can manage the $50K media trip no problem, there is huge return as you’ll be able to own all messaging. On the flip side, if a sandal company can only put $5K towards a trip, what’s the downside of bringing a water bottle company, a sunglasses brand, and a sunscreen company into the event? All of a sudden, you have $20K to work with and journalists are exposed to a lot of cool new products all centered around the same activity.

When going this route, be sure to establish early on who is driving the event. If everyone is coming in at the same price, there should be equal attention paid to the brands. If there is a scale at which brands are participating, allocate brand exposure accordingly.

Ski apparel launch in Jackson Hole, WY

Ski apparel launch in Jackson Hole, WY

4 – Venue – This is one of the easiest ways to fall flat on a media trip. I’m going to lay it out in real terms: the venue you select 100 percent reflects your brand so chose accordingly. If you’re a backcountry ski manufacturer, asking folks to stay in a rugged AK lodge while they are heli-skiing makes total sense. However, ensure the food, sleeping arrangements, and amenities are up to snuff.

Again, don’t forget to let the venue, lodge, hotel, whatever it may be know that you’re hosting journalists at their property. If there’s a chance they’ll get free press, they just might adjust the pricing for you or throw in some great comp items.

5 – Social Media – This is probably the simplest, but most effective tool to get real-time coverage and ROI for the trip. Aligning on a #hashtag, sharing all appropriate social handles with attendees, and setting up any content guidelines is key for the success. Hiring a professional photographer who can shoot the trip and provide images to the media is another tool to get great real time content sharing.

6 – Invitees – This should be straightforward: invite journalists on a media trip who are a fit for the story, product, brand you are highlighting. Just because someone is in-house at Outside does not mean they are a fit for a fly fishing trip. Take the time to research who at a publication is writing fly fishing reviews/stories and invite them.

Conversely, if you have a sexy media trip to a killer destination you can usually step a bit outside your typical demographic and lure big name titles. Be cautious however, some of the larger media houses do not allow press trips, so you may have to spend some time on LinkedIn or the publication’s website to find the appropriate freelancer.

Launching a new product line in Solvang, California

Launching a new product line in Solvang, California

7 – Structure – The itinerary for a media trip will of course vary, but I have one golden rule I always follow: build downtime into every day. You are taking time out of the office just like the media, so respect that they might have to jump online for a little bit and catch up on work. Plus, we’re all adults, and getting some personal time each day is important – no one wants to feel like they’re attending a sleep away camp with every moment of the day planned scheduled.

8 – Swag – This is probably the easiest piece of a media trip, but often overlooked. Media don’t just write for the publication they’re employed for, they are seen as influencers and experts in their space. If they are using a certain product/wearing a particular brand you better believe people are taking note. So, kit them out and give them stuff they will a) use on the trip and b) can bring home. And I’m not referring to branded tee shirts and koozies, but in-line, or better yet, soon-to-be-released, product and gear.


by Alison Nestel-Patt

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