July 3, 2014 | Posted in:Social TV

Jewel Figueras with Angelina Jolie during the promotion of "Maleficient"

Jewel Figueras with Angelina Jolie during the promotion of Maleficient.

For the blogger going on a sponsored media campaign, the excitement of the “free” trip is tempered by the fact that work–lots of work–will be involved. On a press trip, there is very little rest, very similar to when I take a show on the road. LOL! Brands who choose bloggers for a press excursion are expecting to get a promotional boost from these online influencers and will put their best foot forward to make sure all goes well. Sponsored media campaigns run the gamut, ranging anywhere from sending bloggers on a multi-day sail on a cruise ship to flying them out to be a part of a new movie’s promotional junket. In many cases, the expenses–including all travel, hotel, and meal costs, as well as any extra activities that are available–are covered. In return, bloggers are treated to a marvelous experience that they are expected to share over several social media platforms with their loyal followers. And this is where the work comes in. We spoke to bloggers Maria Colaco from The New York Mom and Jewel Figueras from Jewel’s Fab Life, who have both been on dozens of trips with different brands.

Were you invited to attend the press trip or did you call the PR firm and ask to be a part of the trip?
JF: I’ve never asked to be part of a trip. I was always invited.
MC: I don’t think I have ever pitched to a brand. They usually find me the way they find any blogger. They’re looking for people and the brand connects with your voice.
What expenses does a brand cover for media trips?
JF: I’ve done travel campaigns where nearly everything was covered, including travel, lodging, and activities.
MC: It depends. For me, they’ve covered all expenses. And if I’m driving, there’s sometimes a stipend for gas, depending on how far it is. Usually all travel, all meals, all the rewards, all the extracurricular activity–everything is covered. Our names are on a list, it’s all taken care of. Like when we stayed in Boston, we stayed at a beautiful hotel, they put us in a penthouse, and they gave us passes to all the museums. Pretty much everything was taken care of at a top restaurant; we just had to show up. It’s a question of how good the PR team is. You’re given an itinerary and you just go along with it.
What is the average length of a press trip and what do brands expect from your coverage of the trip? 
JF: For me, the average would be somewhere around three to five days. Most of the brands only expect a recap of the trip, though some are very specific in what topics they want you to explore.  I always try to exceed their expectations.
MC: About three days, depending on the trip, but I would say two full days and a half make a solid trip. They want Instagram pictures, Facebook, Twitter activity, follow up blog posts. A lot of time the company will offer free stays at a hotel or airline tickets that you could give away for free, and I haven’t done too many giveaways that way, because a giveaway is a lot of work. You have to promote it, you don’t want only six people to be registered, so you have to make sure you promote it on all your channels, put it in different places, make sure you’re being fair, you know, it’s work! I rarely host a giveaway and when I do, I’ll do it for something substantial, like a four-or-five thousand dollar prize.
How many bloggers usually travel on a trip? 
JF: Trips that I’ve attended have ranged from a small group to hundreds.
MC: The number of bloggers depends on the campaign. I get a lot of trips where it’s just me.
Mario Colaco
Tell me about about a trip you thought was amazing.
MC: Most trips really are amazing, because they’re trying to get you to have the best day, so you can write and really gush over it. So I sometimes get the feeling that the trip you do as press might not be the trip that the average Joe is going to be on, but you want to offer everything. Like when you go dining at a restaurant, the chef is going to send the best-tasting menu, because they want you to have the best experience. Two years ago, I coordinated a huge press trip and it was unbelievable. We had access to the kitchens, in places people had never been able to go to.
JF: One of my favorite trips was to a foreign country, organized by their local Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB). We covered a lot of territory in just a few days, but it was major fun. The group was diverse and there was something for everyone within the group. We did everything from a cooking class at a local cooking school, meals at local gourmet restaurants, even shopping in high-end shops.
How often do you use social media during your trip and which platforms do you use? 
JF: I use social media for most of my experiences on trips. I post on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. I try to stretch the posts out to get more coverage. For instance, a post within a week of returning, followed by posts either weekly or bi-weekly. A five-day trip could give me content for months to come.
MC: Instagram is the most popular platform because you can post one picture with one button to all of your networks. It’s great to do live coverage. My blog posts usually go after. I always tell people you have a week before it goes up. I also have to take other things into consideration, such as if I have a post that I want to be the first thing people see, I can’t post anything else for three or four days.
If you are invited on a press trip, what questions should you ask before you accept the invitation? 
JF: You should ask exactly what is covered on the trip so that you are clear on what your final costs are. You should also know exactly where you are staying and the general itinerary. I even ask what the goals of the trip are to be sure that I’m able to comply.
MC: With international trips, I would ask about security and how we would be protected. I always make sure that everything is covered so I ask about that in detail. I also ask about their expectations: What are you trying to push? What’s the message you’re trying to get out? And then I try to find a story according to what they want. Like if the kitchen of a restaurant had a big re-do, you never know what they want.
Finally, without using the brand’s name describe a media trip that was not successfully executed and tell us why.
JF: I’ve been on trips where the bloggers weren’t well vetted and badly behaved.
MC: We just came back back from a trip, actually, and I emailed the PR people and let them know that the hotel we stayed at was horrible, that they should be sensitive to their media partner, and that I’m going to write in my review that people should go to other places. You have to be honest. I always give the PR company a heads-up before a bad review. I try not to post negative reviews on my site, only because who knows what’s going on in the backend. I was working with a brand last season and it was the worst shopping experience I ever had in my entire life.

Thank you Maria and Jewel!  


Coming Up: Ready4Air (Brands & Bloggers) | Learn More About Bloggers Taking A Press Trip 

Deborah J. Mitchell

Deborah Mitchell Media Associates – Photo Credit: Debbie Mitchell Graphic – Design: Nay Ayache

TV/Social Media Producer Debbie Mitchell is an Emmy nominated producer who is a member of the Producers Guild of America (PGA). She is currently a member of the James Beard Broadcast and New Media Awards Committee. Deborah is Executive Producer of Arise On Screen a global and socially interactive movie review show. If you are a brand interested in Social TV, blogger outreach campaigns, or a blogger or personality interested in television placement follow Debbie Mitchell @SocialTVDeb and/or email SocialTVDeb@gmail.com, or email Nay Ayache on naydmma@gmail.com

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