Media relations

8 ways to ruin a tech press trip

Written by Matt Smith

9 April 2019


The pressures journalists face these days make it harder to get them out of the office than ever before. If you manage to get that elusive ‘yes’ to your company’s press trip, it’s important to deliver what they need.

Over the years, I’ve been involved in organising numerous press trips. While I like to think the media I’ve taken them on have always had the best possible experience, it’s allowed me to understand exactly how easy it is to get things wrong, overlook a potential issue in enough time and end up with egg on your face.

So here are some of the potential banana skins I’ve identified, along with some advice on how to address them.

  1. Ignore journalists’ time constraints

Things like duration and location need to be considered at the start of the process. When you’re planning the trip, think carefully about journalists’ time.

It’ll be difficult for them to spend three days out of the office – if they’re freelance, they’ll struggle to cover the time; staff writers will struggle to get it signed off.

Flying journalists on an all-expenses-paid trip to Bora Bora is all well and good, but if they’ll struggle to make the logistics work, you’ll end up with an empty beach hut.

Use your media relations to get a sense of how journalists really feel about the prospect. Someone from the Telegraph might have a burning desire to go to Peru and will make it work no matter what, but that hot new B2B tech title could get annoyed if you even ask them.

Make your knowledge and contacts count before you make any solid commitment and base the plan on that insight.

  1. Send out blanket invites

Of course, you’ll have the dream targets that you want to come, but don’t blanket the publications they work for. Handpick them, make them feel special, and above all know their beats.

Inviting a data centre journalist to a fintech event will alienate them – and likely ruin your chances with that publication overall, as anyone else you invite from that publication will know you tried their colleague at the next desk first.

Tailor your approach to each journalist and be smart about how you extend the invite to their colleagues if your first point of contact can’t make it.

  1. Scrimp on travel and accommodation

You need to woo attending press. First-class flights (even if they’re short), nice hotels and fancy restaurants can put you front of mind and give journalists that treasured, valued feeling.

Goodwill goes a long way – especially during a busy week with plenty of competitor news and a slightly corporate-heavy story.

Get info in advance, from their travel preferences to particular cuisine favourites, so it’s clear they are front and centre of your thoughts.

  1. Don’t communicate in advance

Organise. Everything. And then communicate. Everything.

Nothing will unsettle journalists more than late flight organisation, uncertain accommodation arrangements and questionable transfers.

Go through everything (including the day) with a fine toothcomb, not forgetting the journey back. Then keep journalists in the loop and send them their own pack of documents ahead of time.

There are specific travel agencies that specialise in these sorts of bookings who can sort everything out and provide valuable peace of mind.

Make sure you provide media briefing books, press packs, etc. and print everything off for each of the attendees in case journalists’ printers pack up.

  1. Fail to feed them properly

Cater for every delegate. And we mean cater. Make sure there are options for everyone, whether they’re vegetarian, vegan, lactose or gluten intolerant. Don’t leave them with just a sad salad.

Snacks for the road/flight will also help make you popular.

Make sure you know any key diet info before you leave for the trip – especially life-threatening allergies.

  1. Assume the logistics will pan out just fine

Prepare for what the day will throw at you. Luggage and delegates can end up in different locations. Coats are shoved in the wrong building. Travel adaptors can (and will) stop working.

Anticipate these hurdles and be ready to roll with the punches, whenever and however they land.

Have local knowledge and resource on the ground to handle issues and mitigate detrimental impact on your schedule.

  1. Expect the journalists to carry cash

Journalists are like the Queen – they don’t want to have to carry cash, or foreign currency, with them. And they shouldn’t have to. Organise and pre-pay for things down to a tee – transfers, food, transport, etc.

Book and pay for everything in advance, and share the info with everyone joining the trip.

Give the team on the ground a company credit card and local currency to cover unforeseen expenses.

  1. Send the story out to non-attendees first

After all your hard work, the last thing you want to do is fall at the vital, final stage. Whatever you do, don’t let non-attendees publish stories before your guests have had ample time to go first.

Give them news on USB sticks with photos and contact details so they have all they need to publish first. They’re taking time out of their busy lives and workloads to come on your press trip, so repay their interest.

Make sure they’re not on any press lists when you’re making a wider announcement – sloppiness is not endearing!