Journalists are a tough and demanding bunch to please, and so careful organisation and planning of a press trip is all the more important. The first characteristic of a carefully planned and thought out press trip is a well communicated and logistically sound programme. A big crowd pleaser is also a well put together itinerary. Based on personal experience we have gathered the 10 most practical tips and tricks that will help your destination organise the best possible MICE press trip.

Before getting into the nuts and bolts of the organisation itself, you need to establish who your focus group is, which means identifying a geographical target and building up a clear image of a structured group.

In the past the editorial board of Kongres Magazine has had the chance to visit numerous different press trips and, trust us, we have really seen it all. So:

Every destination is full of interesting stories, but unfortunately a two- or three-day programme just isn’t enough to show them all. It’s important to incorporate stories that are part of a destination’s unique experience, while keeping in mind their newsworthiness from a journalist’s perspective. Destinations that are already strategically developing those stories and can present them in the field have a huge advantage. Authenticity is one of the most important criteria for reporters and attempting to show too much will only bring the opposite result of what you wanted to achieve.

The easiest way for a reader to find a story interesting is when he or she finds themselves actually in it. That connection happens when we identify ourselves with those people presented in the press trip and as most media addresses meeting planners then you need to make sure they meet them on the press trip. A proven recipe are some good practice cases or definite congress stories, told by professional organisers of international congresses or incentive trip planners.

It happens too often that press trip participants get bombarded with tonnes of promotional material. In addition to it being a non-ecological approach it is also impractical and hard to carry on to the plane. Nowadays it has become so easy to build a micro-portal online and showcase all of the important information, attractive photo galleries and PR messages. If all else fails, saving everything to a USB will make things much easier. What’s important is that everything is in one place and easily accessible. Journalists are also under time pressure and you need to be making their job easier rather than more difficult.

The biggest mistake I see press trip organisers making is not letting journalists even catch their breath. A programme packed with hotel visits, destination presentations, receptions and interviews is not as easy as it sounds. In line with point number one, leave the participants with some free time. It is the best way to achieve a quality reportage, as most journalists have some curious spirit in them and will take advantage of the free time for their own explorations. If you believe in the quality of your destination, it is a guarantee for great news coverage.

Transportation can easily become the most annoying part of a press trip. It is also the part upon which organisers have the least influence, which is why working with a reliable partner and double checking potential mishaps is that much more important. If bad weather keeps the participants stuck in traffic for hours, the overall impression definitely won’t have a positive effect on the reportage. You always need to have a plan B, or sometimes even plans C and D. The maximum time spent between locations that would be tolerated by participants is usually around 2 hours.

The single best way to find out more about the participants attending your press trip is by checking their social media profiles. You can easily see what their interests are and personalize the programme accordingly, or maybe even prepare some special surprises. You should stay connected with them throughout the programme and make sure they tag and share about the press trip with their followers.

One of the worst things about intercontinental flights is “jet lag”, a quick change of time zones that can result in serious grumpiness, a lack of sleep and an overall feeling of exhaustion. If you leave the participants with at least a day of free time to adapt to the environment their total experience will be so much more enjoyable. It’s entirely inappropriate to await your guests with photo reporters and Hollywood-style glamour the second they step off the plane, as their mind is probably already thinking about fresh bed sheets and a nice shower.

News reporters are curious by nature and like to experience stories first-hand. If you give them some time to interview important individuals from point number two above, they will gladly accept the offer. In addition, your destination will get some extra promotion. An average “quick talk” interview will take about half an hour and a good idea is having a photographer with you to take some attractive shots to go with the text.

Social media and content marketing are nowadays a match made in congress heaven and the different types of media are well aware of that. If you give your press trip the right branding and boost it with some attractive hashtags, then journalists will love to use it for their stories. That way you can attract meeting planners who follow certain media to your webpage and potentially make the press trip go viral.

A press trip needs to be built on the culture of your congress destination and speak to the feelings of participants. It should help build a bridge between the journalists, the destination and the readers. Organisers need to build it around unique stories and not just some generic experiences you see on postcards – the sun and the sea are not enough for congress media. These stories need to be tested, heard and experienced in a way that brings all six senses of the participant into play.

Instead of a conclusion, here are 5 DON’Ts of any MICE Press trip:

1. Don’t go overboard with showing hotel rooms, especially if they the ones are where the journalists will be sleeping!

2. Go easy on memorabilia and avoid items that will be hard to carry onto the plane.

3. Don’t forget to clearly define the dress code according to the level of protocol at each event.

4. Don’t’ forget to pay attention to little details in the field of communication with the participants – a smile can turn the biggest frown upside down!

5. Don’t forget to do a follow-up after the event – it is the guarantee for the highest level of guest satisfaction.

A long-time meetings industry addict, Gorazd is the Founder and owner of marketing and event agency Toleranca Marketing. He has many years of experience in planning, preparing and carrying out large international meetings and exhibitions. As the founder of the "Power to the Meetings" methodology, he still firmly believes in the power of live events and human to human communication. He is also the author of numerous articles and editor-in-chief of the meetings industry magazine Kongres Magazine.