Press Trips | Techniques to Score Sponsored Trips

I want to preface this article by saying, I am currently actively negotiating my very first press trip. With that said, you might be wondering what makes me qualified to write this article. First of all, my degree is in marketing, with a focus in social media. This has helped me immensely with growing my blog and social following. In addition, I have almost 4 years of sales experience, from knocking on doors, to cold-calling, to managing multimillion dollar accounts. For one of those years, I worked exclusively with small to medium-sized local businesses. Basically, I was calling and chatting with restaurant owners, tour operators and activity directors, convincing them to advertise with my company. Doesn’t sound much different from asking hotels, airlines, and tour companies to advertise with my blog, does it? That’s because it isn’t! Negotiating press trips relies on classic sales techniques, and any of you with sales experience should consider yourself experts.

I love travel bloggers, and reading about how they are able to travel the world “for free,” but I have yet to find a post about how they actually do it. Sure, you can find the occasional post explaining that they work with sponsors to cut their costs, or they talk about pinching pennies to extend their travels, but no one ever tells you how to acquire said sponsors. Maybe it is because they don’t want to saturate the market with travel bloggers. Maybe there is some rule within the travel blogging community that says that you cannot reveal trade secrets, but I haven’t received my copy of the rule book yet, so I want to share my knowledge with all y’all. Now that you know why I consider myself an expert in this subject matter, I will breakdown what you need to do to secure your first press trip.

Press Trips How to Decide What Companies to Contact

 

Always Try to Hook the Big Fish First

One of the first things I learned in my sales roles was that social proof is king. If you want to work with huge brands like Hilton or American Airlines, what would impress them more, experience working with a little no-name hostel in Colombia, or experience working with one of Marriott’s hotels?  You are probably wondering, okay B, why would these big brands want to work with little ol’ me? My answer may surprise you, but it shouldn’t. For hotels, for example, it costs them nothing to let you stay in a room that would have otherwise been empty. The way they view the transaction is that they are getting free advertising for their brand, and at least one loyal follower. Even if your social media following is small, and you have low traffic on your blog, you will be posting about their brand to whatever following you do have. This is a chance for them to expand their reach, for free. When you look at it from their perspective, it makes much more sense as to why most brands will be willing to work with bloggers.

Determine What Companies Align to Your Personal Brand

Assuming that you have at least a basic idea of what your personal brand is, you need to choose companies that align with that idea. If you have no idea what your personal brand is yet, check out this article from Forbes. How do you know whether a company aligns with your brand? Well first step is to identify their ideal customer base. For large hotels, the target audience is anyone with enough money to stay there, so that makes things easy. You must always keep in mind specific interest groups they are trying to target as well such as millennials, business executives, frequent travelers. How do you know who the company’s target audience is? The best way to find out is to ask them. You can probably get a basic idea of who they are targeting by looking at their website and social media pages, but if you want to know more specific information, it is always best to ask. If your audience does not overlap with the company’s target audience, it probably isn’t the best match, no matter how much you would like to work with them. This means that you need to know who your audience is as well. If you have no idea who your audience is, you need to figure that out first before trying to negotiate press trips. Plain and simple, know your brand and know your audience like the back of your hand. You can’t sell a product without knowing the benefits, and the same goes for your brand.

Press Trips

How to Connect with Companies Once You Have Identified Them

 

How to Find Contact Information

It is 2015, and access to information is getting easier by the day. How many of you have Facebook stalked an ex? Finding contact information for a company is exactly the same as finding out who your ex is sleeping with now. Most companies will have a general email address on their website that goes to an inbox monitored by someone who cannot help you organize a press trip. We salespeople like to call this inbox monitor, a gatekeeper. They are hired by larger companies to prevent people like us from speaking to whomever it is that we need to speak with. Your first goal is to impress this person. This could be through a catchy subject line, a witty comment in your email opener or anything you think will impress the person who may or may not forward your email to the correct person. For a while, I used the subject line “Hello there…” Be creative. You can bypass this person by finding the contact information for the person you actually want to speak with. How do you know who the best person to speak with is? Call the company. Ask whomever answers who is in charge of media relations or marketing. If it is a small business, ask for the owner. If you can get that person on the phone, and they speak your language, organize a time to chat with them for 15 minutes about your proposal. DO NOT TRY TO PITCH RIGHT AWAY. It is very likely that you have caught this person at an inopportune time. By offering to schedule 15 minutes to chat, it shows that you respect their time, but that you are still very interested in discussing the opportunity. Some people will agree to chat right then, but many will thank you for scheduling the additional call. If you are terrified of reaching out over the phone, you will have to dig a little deeper in your online stalking to find out who to speak to and how to reach them.

  1. Check their website for contact information. At a bare minimum, send them an email through their website contact form.
  2. Check their Facebook About tab. Often smaller businesses will list a contact email here.
  3. Google “Company Name Marketing LinkedIn”. This is hit or miss, but sometimes for larger companies you will be able to find the name and contact information of the right person, so it’s worth a try.
  4. If all else fails, call the company. You can do it. I believe in you. (Before I started these jobs, I couldn’t even call my dentist to schedule an appointment, it just takes practice.)

How to Pitch a Press Trip

Identify Needs

The first step in any sales process is to identify the needs of the company. Just because you need a company, doesn’t mean that they need you. Look at their social media accounts, their website quality, the photo and video quality. If you can provide, guidance, assistance, or content, they will likely at least be willing to hear you out.

Provide Value

This goes hand and hand with identifying needs. Once you have found out what the company needs, you can provide them with a solution to their problem. The company I am working with currently has a very limited following on Instagram. I have a decent sized following on Instagram. I opened my pitch with “I noticed that your Instagram account has been slow to build momentum, maybe I can be of assistance?”

Overcome Objections

People hate to be sold to. It is just a fact of life. Think back to the last time you were in a store with commissioned sales people. The best example I can think of is the Apple Store. The minute you walk into any Apple Store in the world, you are overwhelmed by salespeople trying to get your attention. This is exactly how marketing and pr people feel every day. Chances are, you are not the only blogger, travel blogger, or even female solo travel blogger emailing them for a press trip. They will be prepared with a list of reasons why they don’t have time to talk to you and why they can’t afford what you are asking for. Be prepared for the no, and come up with a solution to overcome the common objections listed below:

  1. Your services cost too much.
  2. I’m satisfied with my current advertising options.
  3. I don’t want to participate right now.
  4. I’ve never done this kind of advertising before and I have been doing just fine.”
  5. Why should I trust you?
  6. This sounds like too much work

They may not provide you with these objections verbatim, but these are the underlying reasons that people don’t buy, assuming you are speaking with the person who has the authority to make these types of decisions. If you have a way to overcome each objection, you will be able to move to the final step in the process, which is to ask for their business.

Close

The hardest part about this step is overcoming the fear of rejection. When you have reached the end of your conversation with the decision maker, you have answered all their questions, provided value, and overcome their objections, you simply must ask to do business together. When soliciting press trips, I believe that the best method for closing is the soft-close. That would look something like this:

“If I have answered all of your questions, I would love to move forward with organizing the details of the press trip I suggested. I think this will be a great partnership, and I look forward to promoting your brand to my audience.”

press trips

Things to Remember

  1. Everyone likes their ego stroked. Tell them why you chose their brand over other brands. Tell them that they are awesome and unique, even if they really aren’t.
  2. Ask as many questions as possible in all stages of the process. You want to make sure that both you and the company know exactly what to expect from the partnership.
  3. Underpromise and overdeliver. Always give them a little extra something, whether that be an extra Facebook post, Instagram photo or simply a permanent space on your blog.
  4. Rejection is natural, and you need to learn to deal with it.
  5. Sales is a numbers game. You will likely have to send out 10+ emails to get 1 response. Do not get frustrated.
  6. Statistics aren’t everything. If your blog and social accounts don’t have huge followings, don’t worry about it too much. Any publicity is good publicity.

Press Trip Pitch Email Templates

Please feel free to take a look at the templates I have created for pitching a press trip over email. Please adjust them to fit your experience and do not just copy, paste, and fill in the blanks. Thanks!

Initial Email

Pitch Email

Information overload! I know that I covered a lot of information very quickly, and I know many of you will have questions. Please reach out to me if you need help with any of the above information, if you would like me to review a pitch email, or if you simply want to bounce an idea off of me. Also, if you think I forgotten anything that you have learned in your quests for the elusive press trip, please add it below.

Happy Travels,

B

press trips

37 comments on “Press Trips | Techniques to Score Sponsored Trips”

  1. Jaynie says:

    Great article! There is so much involved, I had no clue. I appreciate your advice.

    1. Becca says:

      Thank you! It is a bit of a process, but once you do it the first few times, you will fall into a rhythm. Let me know if you ever need any help with anything related! Happy Travels 🙂

  2. Polly says:

    Really great post! I definitely tend to be a ‘wait and let them come to me’ kind of blogger which is not usually as effective as I hope it’ll be!

    Off to investigate your letter templates – thanks!

    1. Becca says:

      Most people are, so you are definitely not alone! The problem with that strategy is that the companies don’t have enough time to seek you out. Unless they have a dedicated PR representative who already knows a network of bloggers, there isn’t really an easy way for them to find us. That is why we have to go to them! Please let me know if you need anything or have any questions 🙂

  3. Christianna @ ExpectoAdventures.com says:

    This is a fantastic resource! I’ve contacted so many companies, always by email, and I’ve had a few partnerships come out of that, but after reading your post, I think I’ll tweak my wording a bit, and hopefully it brings more success. Thanks! 🙂

    1. Becca says:

      Great to hear that you have already been successful reaching out through email! Getting your foot in the door is always the hardest part. Best of luck, and if you want to bounce any ideas off of me, please let me know!

  4. Becky says:

    This has been so helpful, thank you! 🙂 Good luck on your first press trip!

  5. Becky says:

    This has been so helpful, thank you! 🙂 Good luck on your first press trip!

    1. Becca says:

      Thank you! Let me know if you have any questions and subscribe for more posts like this! Happy Travels 🙂

    1. B says:

      I completely agree! A no is not the worst thing in the world! People are so afraid to hear no that it prevents them from asking for things that they want. Once you can overcome this hurtle, the world really is your oyster.

  6. Jessica Beck says:

    Thank you for this! This type of stuff is the next step I’m trying to take with my blog and am so apprehensive about it!

    1. B says:

      Me too! It would be pretty great to be able to stay at nice hotels and resorts on press trips :)Let me know if you have any other questions!

  7. Jon Cho says:

    Great post! Way more practical information here than most bloggers usually share. Good luck with your Press Trip.

    1. B says:

      Thank you! I always try to give people what they really want to hear, as opposed to the sugar coated answers we hear a lot of the time. You can subscribe for more posts like this that I have coming up 🙂

  8. Local Nomads says:

    This is so practical and useful! I’m definitely bookmarking this for future use. Thanks so much for writing it!

    1. B says:

      Thank you so much for reading it 🙂

  9. Austin Dixon says:

    Becca,

    What a great article – thanks so much for sharing! As I’m just getting into the world of travel blogging, it’s always nice to hear from bloggers with a bit more experience 🙂

    Would love to connect on IG! My handle is @austin.dixon.

    Best,

    / Austin

    1. B says:

      Hey Austin,
      Great to virtually meet you and thank you so much for reading my blog. I will check you out on IG!
      Happy Travels!

  10. You have inspired me (and many others!) to get out there and start pitching! Thank you for this article and for the templates. I’ve been staring at #1 on my “To Do” list, which plain and simple says “Pitch!” – And now, after reading your article, I will do just that! Thank you again – Anika @ MissMaps.com

    1. B says:

      Hi Anika,
      Thank you so much! I am always happy when I can be an inspiration to others. Good luck on your pitching and happy travels!

  11. chau says:

    Great post! I just got back from a stay at a resort and I regret not chatting with the PR team there to discuss opportunities since I was already there anyway. On to the next!

    1. B says:

      I have been there too! Just think how prepared you will be for your next trip 🙂 Happy Travels!

  12. Paola says:

    Thanks!!! These are more than just tips. This is a bible!!!

    1. B says:

      Aweee 🙂 You just made my day. I am glad you found it helpful! Happy Travels!

  13. How about if you get no response? What are next steps?

    1. B says:

      Generally, I will send 5 emails before I move on to a new company. Often times, like I mentioned, a gatekeeper will delete your email without forwarding it on to someone else. Persistence pays off!

  14. jusztravel says:

    oh wow! this is such a comprehensive and helpful post. I am going to share this! thank you for sharing your knowledge!

    1. B says:

      Thank you for the share! I really appreciate it 🙂

  15. Thanks! Do you also reach out to more than one company at a time?

    1. B says:

      Absolutely! Reach out to as many as you like. Competition is healthy. If they ask if you are speaking with more than one company, feel free to tell them the truth.

  16. Sabine says:

    I loved reading this article. Especially because since you have “little” experience in travel blog press trips, it is very useful for others starting out. Thanks a lot for sharing the very interesting experience!!

  17. Shane says:

    Such great advice as I am in the midst of trying to take my travel blog to the next level! Thanks so much!

    1. B says:

      Thank you! I am glad that you have found it helpful. I will be doing a lot more of these “helpful” posts soon. 🙂

  18. I have come across this at such an opportune time when I am trying to sell my blog to tour operators and destinations in my country and around Africa! I feel well guided in my approach now. I will sure keep you posted on my progress. Thank you!!

    1. B says:

      I am so glad that you found this helpful. Please do keep me posted on how things go!

  19. Sanket D. says:

    Pretty concise stuff this. I pitched my first successful press trip a little earlier this year, and I can tell you that most of this stuff is pretty accurate. But I did have trouble finding the right contact. Usually, I think calling the company directly seems to work best.

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