Last month, as part of my ongoing series on the PR/Blogger relationship, I wrote about New Year’s Resolutions for Publicists. Thanks to all your sharing, it was one of my most popular posts ever! This month I’m turning the tables and shining a light on the editorial side. Writers, journalists, bloggers – anyone who goes on press trips or influencer campaigns – this one’s for you.
Before I lead my first press trip to The Bahamas in 2007, one of my wise supervisors told me, “There’s always one in every group, so be prepared.”
She was right.
In 80 percent of the press trips I’ve either lead or participated in as a journalist, there’s been some writer who made the trip less enjoyable for everyone else.
After planning & leading several emotionally scarring press trips with unimaginably rude, ridiculous and/or self-important attendees, I began to invite only those I either knew personally or who came highly recommended from other publicists. I figured if I‘m going spend months coordinating a press trip and then a week traveling abroad with someone, they should be fun, polite and professional. All those jerky, whiny, troublemaking writers who accept invitations reflect poorly on the publicist who invited them, and then we have to explain to clients just how these weirdos ended up here in the first place.
Based on my personal experiences as both the press trip organizer and attendee, here are a few tongue-in-cheek tips to ensure you DO wind up on the mythical PR blacklist.
1. Be a diva.
You are a precious snowflake, a priceless rainbow, a rare unicorn. You’re the Mariah Carey of travel blogging. PR reps live and breathe to sort the cashews out of your mixed nut bowl. Never forget that you are doing the publicists and the destination a favor by showing up. Make them grovel for your good opinion.
A recent press trip I planned for a hotel client in The Bahamas. Here I am boarding a charter flight to Staniel Cay, Exuma, with a really fun group of writers. No weird ones or jerks on this trip!
2. Be late for everything.
Nothing demonstrates your importance more than a lack of regard for the carefully planned schedule your PR rep has crafted. Don’t worry that it will throw off the day’s itinerary and make the rest of the writers miss out on precious time gathering information for their stories. “Oh… there are other professionals trying to accomplish work on this press trip?”
If you really want to show off, don’t even come to dinner or skip a couple of planned excursions altogether. Don’t worry that you knew about the schedule in advance and agreed to attend. It’s really not your concern that the destination has invested thousands of dollars to fly you in, or that there are vendors, tour operators and restaurateurs who’ve spent months preparing for your very special visit. That’s so not your problem!
Whine about how early you have to wake up for that once-in-a-lifetime excursion that YOU signed up for. Don’t tell the PR rep about your food allergies, then flip out when the local mom-and-pop restaurants in obscure locations can’t meet your specifications on 5-minutes’ notice.
- The lamp in your hotel room is too far to reach from your position in bed? A riot is most definitely in order.
- It’s hot in the Caribbean in August? Definitely tell everyone that “this place totally sucks.”
- No one in this provincial French town speaks English? Unacceptable!
Your flight is delayed due to weather? Your luggage is left behind? Feel free to refuse to do anything the rest of the press trip. You REALLY need your specific brand of wrinkle cream to do your job. Definitely don’t roll with the punches. (It’s not like real travelers do that, right?)
Why should you care that it took three months of planning to execute this experience? Every last detail should cater to your whim – you’re the famous blogger! – so be sure you hold the publicist’s feet to the fire for every discomfort and imperfection in the itinerary. Especially if the issue is out of their control.
4. Be too cool for school.
You’re a writer, and probably a pretty famous one. You get recognized by your adoring fans… a lot. You’re kind of a big deal. Applause, applause.
Hence, societal norms don’t apply to you. Feel free to show up to the schwanky client event your PR rep spent months coordinating in wrinkled cargo shorts and a dirty, sweat-stained shirt. It really shows everyone that you’re the most well-traveled, cultured person in the room.
It also helps if you reek of booze when you arrive. What else is that mini-bar for?
5. Never let anyone forget who you are.
You have like, a zillion followers on Twitter so be sure to remind the group often just how far your social influence spreads. When you meet other members of the group or your destination hosts, introduce yourself with a confident, “Do you know who I am?” It’s so endearing.
Really try to exude an air of superiority. It’s best not to collaborate or use the time with other professional contacts to get creative and come up with cool solutions for the industry. Just keep talking about yourself!
6. Get wasted. Really wasted.
PR reps love when you drink as much free booze as you can without dying. Especially if it’s top shelf.
They also look forward to escorting drunken you back to your room, holding you up so you don’t break anything and pretending not to hear your slurred invitations for a sure-to-be-memorable roll in the hay. Don’t fret that your obscene behavior is keeping them from the only time they have to catch up on work for all their other clients, or you know, take a shower or sleep.
Oh! PR reps just love hearing from their clients that you didn’t get to experience their hotel room because you spent the whole night carousing buck naked in the pool with the fishing guide. Guess they should’ve let you bring your husband along after all. You really showed them!
Another amazing press trip with no jerks! Here’s our group posing with our driver in Nassau after we got a flat tire. Did anyone cry or panic? Nope. They rolled with the punches, like true travel champs.
7. Talk about politics and religion, and be super aggressive about forcing your opinions.
We aren’t just here to research a beautiful, historic destination, we’re here to stir the pot on everything from abortion to gay marriage to animal rights. At every meal!
And don’t leave out hot button blogging issues. Link sales, sponsored posts and even your singularly correct opinions on press trips (You obviously hate them and would never go on one. Except this one.) are perfect conversation starters, especially if you’re better than everyone else. (You totally are.) Yell. Wave your arms. Get mad. Make everyone super uncomfortable.
Isn’t this fun?
8. Grub for free stuff.
While reminding your PR rep, your hotel hosts and the destination clients how famous you are, don’t forget to aggressively suggest they provide you with even more free stuff. Think of every shop as a place to shout about how much your influence is worth. It’s free advertising for the destination after all, if you wear that dive shop T-shirt or if that local ceramic artist gives you some of her pottery. It’s not your job to support local businesses, so any souvenirs above and beyond your free flights, hotels, meals, drinks, activities and transportation, should be 100% gratis.
If the destination does happen to provide welcome gifts, like say, bottles of locally bottled rum, be sure to snag as much as you can before the other writers find out. You’re not here to share. Throw punches if necessary to protect your $9 treasure.
Snorkeling on the Great Barrier Reef with a group of international media. Wonderful people and such a productive week researching Queensland!
9. Don’t tip.
You came on this press trip for free and darnit, you’re not going to spend one red cent. Sure, you loved that 12-hour speedboat trip around the islands, and your local guide gave you some amazing anecdotes about the destination, but it’s not your job to appreciate the working people. You’re working yourself. Harumph.
10. Never publish a word.
After all, you had to wake up for breakfast at 8 a.m., and they served 2% milk instead of skim on that tiny Caribbean island that imports everything on a mail boat twice a week, and it rained once, and the WiFi was pretty slow. It really was a subpar experience, so chalk it up to a wasted couple of days and hope for better on your next free FAM.
Yep, there’s almost always one person with at least some of the above sensibilities on every press trip. I have not fabricated any of these examples… they either have happened to me personally or to others I know. And I have so many stories that are worse, like the time one of my writers died on a press trip I was hosting. (Long story. Saving it for my book.)
On the bright side, most journalists and bloggers are clever, funny, flexible and great to travel with. I’ve met some of my favorite people in the world on press trips, people I have learned from and looked up to and stayed in touch with through all of my career changes and world travels.
All that to say – there are SO many good people in the travel industry, so I hope my ranting doesn’t put anyone off. This really is just a wee peek into the complex relationship between PRs, DMOs and journalists/bloggers, and it doesn’t begin to delve into it all. But I hope you enjoyed my snark and gentle poking. Now that I’ve spent years working on both sides of the media fence, I know all too well there are plenty of valid frustrations to go around.
Now you’ve read about a few of my press trip horror stories… tell me yours!
123 thoughts on “10 Tips to End Up on the Infamous Press Trip Blacklist”
Oh man I can totally relate to having to deal with diva bloggers! Also sounds similar to traveling during spring break in college… I had a few friends who would freak out about rain and 2% milk haha. Just glad that these days I get to select my own travel companions.
Where I come from, if I act like that I’d be afraid my mom would find out. And if mom finds out, we have trouble on our hands. I’m 37 and I still fear my mom discovering me doing something bad. It’s all about manners. I fortunately haven’t experienced bad situations on press trips. Just someone complaining about how a steak was prepared. As a former restaurant server, that behavior would’ve ticked me off. When I’m on a press trip I feel like Sally Fields. They really like me! As a former sports reporter, even though it was my job to get in free to games and report what I saw, I felt grateful every time to be in that position.
Urgh, I had a good laugh reading this. You don’t have to go on a fam trip to see that there is always THAT person, but I think it’s definitely terrible when they are supposed to be working and doing their own PR for future collaborations at the same time… Oh well, at least they get blacklisted!
Yikes! I cannot begin to imagine the types of people you’ve met during press trips! I guess it’s like everywhere else… Wow. Thanks for opening our eyes Angie! It must be terrible to work so hard and be rewarded by this kind of attitude. I hope this great post scares them off! 🙂
I can definitely relate! I don’t have any press trip stories, but I did a small group tour in New Zealand, and one of the members of the group did everything he could to upset the apple cart: http://www.secondhandhedgehog.com/2014/02/kaikoura-problem-with-small-group-tours.html
You’re right – there’s always one. Though sometimes if you go on a trip where there isn’t someone rocking the boat, you start to worry whether it might be you this time! I do anyway – maybe I’m just paranoid!
I went on a press trip once where one person wasn’t a blogger, but a writer for a newspaper outlet. Not sure how she ended up on our trip, but she didn’t want to do what we were doing, she was after an entirely different story. Definitely made for some annoying situations. Angie, this post is hilarious! Coming from a PR background, too, and comping writers, these examples go beyond just travel!
Haha! This post is hilarious. Love your snarkiness Angie! Sadly though, I’ve encounter several of these examples both on press trips and at blogger conferences. It never fails to amaze me how these people can act in such a way and ever get invited on a press trip again.
Thanks for the kind words, JDomb! I know you and I are on the same page about the bad eggs!
Angie, this was hilarious (love your tongue-in-cheek style) but unfortunately, so true. I’ve been lucky on many press trips to enjoy the company of laid-back fellow writers. My “horror” story comes from the other end though … what happens when the PR person flakes out? It happened to me once: she sunbathed naked while smooching with an island boyfriend in front of all the writers and she screwed up a very rare and important interview a few of us writers needed with a local historian. That, among other things, never made me want to work with that company again. But for the most part, I’ve had great relationships with PR folks and since I do most of my travel alone here in Florida, there’s not much drama. I think that many bloggers don’t get the training they need though in some of the ethical aspects of travel journalism, including how to treat situations like these, where let’s say you are genuinely uncomfortable, how to approach it diplomatically or respectfully requests changes to your itinerary etc; I mean, it basically comes down to not being an a-hole, using common courtesy — just as in regular life, even when you’re not working. Diva/divo bloggers like the ones you describe don’t realize they are technically on the clock.
Write more of these PR posts, please! Even though I’ve heard many of your stories IRL, I think they are really helpful for other journos and publicists alike.
And you were the best publicist (and friend) I ever made on a press trip. In fact, those two times we went to the Bahamas together were some of my favorite trips of all time. Next up on Angie Away: How to be that rockstar PR girl with whom everyone wants to travel… 😉
I’m hoping to do at least one PR post a month – seems there is a lot of interest!
And I hope our story is an encouragement to all the PR folks and writers out there who have found group trips and FAMs to be more trouble than they’re worth. There is a way to work together for mutual benefit, but it does take effort on both sides. I’m so glad you trusted me enough to come diving that first time =)
Do some bloggers on press trips really act like this?! That’s terrible! An entertaining read though!
Thanks, Shikha! There are a few bad apples but mostly everyone is wonderful. It just so happens the naughty ones are REALLY naughty. Thank you for reading!
Great post. I had this idea I would love to run by you, it’s about this food I want to invent-let me know.
I’m all ears. Let’s OneSpark it.
I am quite lucky because all my trips have been solo. Not sure, I would want to do a group press trip now.
They’re not always horrific, I promise! It helps to determine who’s going beforehand just in case there are any grenades =)
Great post! Got a bit scared right now, as I am in the middle of organizing a blog trip to Morocco 🙂 Hope there is no diva or jerk in the group! _D
I’m sure it’ll be great – Morocco is so wonderful, how could anyone be a jerk?! Good luck!
I haven’t been on a PR trip, but a sailing trip came into my mind. We spent a week in a sailing boat with someone who need to tell every day that she was dressing Penelope Cruz’s sister. In any other kind of trip you can try to avoid the person, but in a small ship, even if you are on the other side, you can hear each other 🙁
Hey Shere – thanks for your comment! It reminds me of a gal I met in Fiji once. Apparently she was once photographed by paparazzi doing the walk of shame outside Gerard Butler’s house, and she told every last person in the hotel. Some people!
I have never been on a press trip, but encountered many annoying people who were complaining that the taxi driver didn’t speak English or that there were too many beggars. Really, in a developing country? Outrageous! 😉
Oh Tammy – that is my pet peeve! You don’t have to be a world traveler to understand that there are bound to be very obvious differences once you step outside the comfort zone. It amazes me how many folks miss that and then don’t enjoy their trips!
I can’t believe people would act like that on a trip in general, much less a press trip they’ve been invited to participate in. I’ve only been on two official press trips and never had anywhere near the experiences you’re describing. Hopefully my luck will hold out.
Thanks for the great article! I’ll echo what Camels & Choc. said – more PR posts 😛
More PR posts coming! Thank you for reading =)
Oh Angie. A whole post, about ME. I’m feeling so lucky. Also, litigious. See you in court. DON’T YOU KNOW WHO I AM, LADY?
I hope this post does really well. Because yes, if you’re on a press trip, you’re there to do a job and if you don’t like that job, don’t go on another one. And that’s the right message.
I’ve not been on any trips with absolutely nightmares, but I know of a few from people who have. I hope I never encounter it.
But, my slate isn’t clean. I’m somewhat guilty of no. 10 – but only because I’m still playing catchup. The lesson I learned on the few press trips I’ve been on: put time aside *afterwards* to fulfil your commitments.
Don’t sue me, Mike! I swear, this one’s not about you 😉
No. 10 is a tough one. Even tougher if you travel frequently. I feel like I’m only now getting caught up from 2012 & 2013 trips… so it does take time. I think the key is to manage expectations about publishing up front, and then keep your PR person apprised of any changes.
Thank you for reading and sharing! I value your good opinion very much =)
Yep! I’ve only been on a handful of group press trips over the course of my career, but I can identify these knuckleheads from every one of them. I get peeved by the attitude of entitlement among travelers in general, but it’s even worse when a journalist/blogger commits one of these PR faux pas. Reading this makes me even more thankful that 95% of our press trips have been individually customized… and that one of the rare ones that wasn’t was with you! 😉
Oh gosh what stories! I can’t believe someone died on one of your trips… But thanks for sharing. I think we can all relate to how ridiculous people can behave when they’re in some position of power or have some notion of entitlement! There are definitely a lot of “do you know who I am”‘s in the travel writing world!
Ha ha, too funny – only because it’s true!
Every press trip I go on there is definitely one or two these people! I try my best to stay away from them. 🙁
On my first FAM trip, there were two writers who complained about the food and attended only about 25% of the activities. And this was in a really, really nice area with some of the best food around. Hmm. It must not be easy to be a PR person and to have all the duties of organizing trips and managing all the different personalities. I’m so sorry to hear that someone died on one of your trips.
I thought this was going to be one of those “joke’ posts – how can people act like that when (a) someone has gone to the trouble of organising a trip and inclusing you and (b)its free!!
Cant blame PR people and companies for not wanting to work with bloggers if you have idiots acting like that!
I’m still waiting for that day I go on a press trip- I haven’t gone about e-mailing and asking to be one one yet. I can’t IMAGINE complaining while on a free trip! It’s crazy talk.
Hey! I changed the tire on that limo! I STILL tell that story all the time. How many people can say they changed a tire on a limo in the Bahamas?! Let the whiners keep their cubicles. 😉
Wow Angie, you’ve really come across some true characters over the years. I wonder what we’d have to do to get an informal tip off from you as to who these people are/were hehe. Also, are they still blogging and the big names they were at the time.
I dare say it is true though that what you see online and what you see in person can be a world apart.
To date I’ve only ever met one other couple of travel bloggers, they are Agness and Cez of E-Tramping. I’ll be honest and think they are even better in person than they are online. A real nice set of people. We did have an interesting discussion of our experiences with other bloggers though and already we’ve had the odd mixed experience with some. Such a shame as >90% of bloggers I’ve interacted with have provided very positive experiences.
WOW. That is unbelievable – all of them! I can’t believe that people act this way. After all, they are being treated to travel and should feel very privileged! If Justin or I were ever invited as blogger guests, we would be totally honored and wouldn’t be rude, complain, or be a total embarrassment!
Press trips are kind of like roulette right? You just never know who is going to be there! I think I’ve gotten pretty lucky on the ones I’ve been on. Some people have been annoying and maybe drank a little too much but never anything overly crazy!
I use to go on fams…and I will never forget how much some of these writers could drink….Simply amazing.
I’ve been on both sides and would love to buy you a drink. You nailed it. There is always that one person, or on my last one, two, who make everyone look bad.
This is awesome. I can’t imagine. I’ve only been on a couple of press trips and was fortunate enough that everyone was amazing. I think I would just have to slap someone. Oops. I bet that’s on the longer list! I’m sharing!
Im a a professional blogger and also do some PR on the side…this post is hilarious to me. We run a trip every year called Brandcation where we work with travel locations and take anywhere from 30-40 women on fully comped amazing vacations for the story. EVERY SINGLE TIME we have someone go insane with something you listed above. A year ago I coined the term “DontBeThatGirl” and now its the official motto of the trip. I start every event with an explanation of “that girl” and (because I am a blogger too) remind them all that if someone is #thatgirl everyone has my permission to blog about them….and they will never be on any list again.
One of our upcoming trip girls sent me this and said it has to be required reading for now on when they sign up.
This is hilarious! I love that idea! I’m in a bit of the same position – a travel blogger but I also handle marketing at a boutique hotel in Anguilla. We’ve worked with a number of FAM trips and there’s generally someone who is just TERRIBLE who brings down the mood. This should be required reading for everyone before they come. Don’t be #thatgirl. Love it!
love your tips and the funny part is that those that do those things have no idea they are doing them. They act like its totally normal behavior while the rest of us just side step and go on to enjoy the accommodations and fun. thanks for the laugh
I’m laughing so hard because we all do know someone who has done each of these. I have been on both sides, as the organizer I wanted to ask the person to go home and as a blogger I cringed for the PR rep. It looks like your crew in the pictures had a great time. Great article, it’s a must read for every blogger.
I’m just trying to get on the good list for press trips! I wouldn’t do any of the above but I’m not sure the person who died counts as someone who misbehaved on a press trip! It would seem that that person came off the list for another reason……
Great post and spot on! I’ve been on both sides of the fence, organizing for tourist boards as well as being a press trip participant, and let me tell you … no complaints + tip appropriately = a great press trip participant in my book! Plus when working with travel bloggers they have the ability to produce so much more great content than say, a decade ago when we hosted writers for one small article. The ability to illustrate value and move the dial is much more significant these days.
Absolutely! And the sweet spot is when you find that writer who is both a blogger AND a print journalist. Then you get immediate results & long reaching coverage. Those are my favorite writers to invite on trips.
Thanks for reading & commenting!
Although I am not a writer I also experience some of the list when I travel with a group with friends of friends. I just don’t let them ruin my vacation by their diva attitudes and tantrums. LOL
Another great list! As bloggers/writers, we all have fans and followers. Then, there are times when people have never heard of us. *gasp* My biggest pet peeve is when I meet other bloggers and they assume I know who they are. “I’m kind of big deal in a virtual world”. Nope, don’t know you, but nice to meet you. Now can you hold the elevator for me because this ain’t your private suite.
Also, the entitlement thing kills me. Build a relationship. Maintain it, but don’t abuse it. Every blogger can be replaced.
This article gave me a laugh! It’s funny that people would act that way but like you wrote at the beginning, I guess the trip just wouldn’t be complete without that one!
While I’d have hoped most of the above would have been common sense and common courtesy, this was still an interesting read.
I’m going on my first two press trips later this year, and it’s good to see some advice on what not to do 🙂 I’d not have thought of the tipping one, just because I’m not from a tipping culture and am never sure which countries I should tip in, haha.
Tipping is SO confusing! Don’t be afraid to ask your host up front for clarification. We PRs appreciate that proactive attitude.
Well, alas, I have NOT been on any press trips but now I surely know what NOT to do when I am. Outstanding!
Thanks, Charles =) I’m sure you’d never be a blacklist offender!
Can I add one? Don’t wear the same clothes every day of the trip! I was on a trip in Ireland where someone did that for 5 days and honestly didn’t seem to know or care that she was literally dirty (a food spiller extraordinaire) and smelly (heavy smoker). Incredibly rude to the hosts and fellow travelers. And of course this was also the late to the bus every single time person! Arrgh! Not tipping is terrible – I overtip slightly because the guides and drivers have tough jobs with even the fun groups keeping everything going on schedule. I’ve also seen people sleep during presentations. You have a tough job but the fun people probably make it worth it!
Hi Kay – thanks for reading! You’re totally right — the job IS fun and the pros outweigh the cons for sure. I can’t believe you traveled with someone who wouldn’t change clothes! That had to have been really awkward on long bus rides…
I did a “volunteer” program for Vaughan Systems in Spain where they send a group of native English speakers and Spaniels to a nice hotel for 5 days for intensive English immersion. One of the Anglos had to be escorted back to Madrid for sexually harassing as many female participants as possible. Creepy.
That’s just so terrible! The sexual harassment was always really tough for me to manage… I always wanted to be the fun PR pro who can take a joke, but being alone with certain men in the industry just got to be awkward. And I didn’t hesitate to share names with colleagues because I didn’t want them to have the same issue. UGH!
Thanks for reading!
WOW, people can be so rude. I was reading this, think ‘as if this ever happens’ and then was shocked to see it was all true. Much like Lance I would never act like this in case someone found out – I’d be so embarrassed. Head up, manners engaged, big smiles, let’s do this press trip rain, hail or shine.
I love your go-getter attitude! That’s exactly the kind of hutzpah that makes a press trip fun for everyone involved. Kudos to you!
Wow….that was honestly one of the funniest travel pieces i have read in a long time. Thanks for bringing a huge smile Angie, as I am in the middle of pitching our own book and trying to make the magic happen for HoneyTrek…..p.s. Hope we aren’t on that blacklist, lol.
I think you guys are safe, Mike =) Thanks for reading!
Love taking a peak behind the magic curtain that is travel press tips.
Thanks for reading, Dale! Appreciate you!
I’ve yet to go on any Press trips, but I have had a hosted hotel stay a couple of times.
Oh dear Lord! Does this really go on?! I could never imagine behaving in such a way. I hope to goodness I haven’t even skirted near that kind of behaviour (although I might have kicked myself for not packing some great suntan lotion I usually use).
I seriously love this post!!! I am laughing because It’s so true, there is always that ONE. Glad I am not on the blacklist.
Funny how everyone agrees there is always ONE! Thanks for reading, Mellisa!
AMEN. Great post.
Truly hysterical. If I wasn’t a blogger, I might not believe that these things actually happen. So not fair the teasing about having a writer die on one of your press trips. That must have been awful.
Would love to work with you!
It WAS awful. The worst day of my professional life by a long shot. Thanks for your sympathy!
This was spot on. I spent many years in travel PR hosting press trips all over the world. I will never forget the guy who asked for Earl Grey tea with splenda in a zulu village after we arrived by horseback. I jokingly told him this was the “cultural” South Africa press trip not the “luxury” press trip and he replied, “Oh, when is that one?”
WOW. I think I probably know that guy, haha.
But seriously. No Splenda in the Zulu village? How can a writer be expected to perform under those conditions?! 😉
Oh boy. Yup. Seen a lot of these and hopefully haven’t been the one doing them. I will admit there are times I’m confused about tipping, but I always try to ask. As for Miss Kristen, well, I couldn’t agree with you more. I always love when I end up on a trip with her. It’s sure to be a good time.
And could we please talk about getting wasted at conferences where those same PR people you want to work with are watching you make an idiot out of yourself. Conferences are professional venues. You need to represent your brand, not your high tolerance (or lack there of)!
Love this post. I’m attending my first Press Trip in a week and I’m pretty excited. I have no clue what to expect though and am a little nervous. I wouldn’t do any of the taboos, however I’m SO glad you touched on tipping. When planning my budget I totally forgot about that.
Hey Joie – good luck on your first press trip! More than likely, it’s going to be great. And if you bring up tipping to your hosts at the beginning, I’m sure they’ll be happy to explain what’s already been covered. =) Have fun!
This was so great! Hilarious.
Thanks, Andrea! Appreciate you reading!
there is always one in which you just want to scream and go are you an idiot. Just came back from a press trip and was stunned that the person wasnt even listening to the interviewee’s response and ask them a question taht left them stumbling. They were so nice but I am sure the thought bubble was I just told you x and you are asking me again. UGH!! And the knock you over to get a selfie!! UGH again.
OH yes – the photos! I didn’t even mention the issues about photography on press trips. I’ve been trampled more times than I can count by bloggers trying to get the shot… of inanimate objects. The wine and cheese tray aren’t moving, guys, we can all get a shot…
Thanks for reading!
I have never been on a press tip yet, but oh Boy I have heard some stories and it really looks like they are real. I just though it is a myth… you know like people having sex in dorms and showing off their full passports in hostel to show all their visas LOL
This post was the blogging equivalent of a page-turner. Why do people act like this when an awesome–and free–opportunity has fallen in their lap?! I would have imaged seasoned travelers to be more accommodating and understanding, both of the local culture and group dynamics, but apparently not. Thanks so much for sharing, I found this fascinating.
Thanks so much for reading and commenting, Cassandra! It always amazes me when the seasoned travelers are the worst offenders! I think sometimes people just forget their manners.
It never ceases to amaze me the entitlement some people feel. I’m heading on my first trip and plan to be on my best behaviour – your post just confirms why!
I enjoyed every word. Fortunately I have missed a lot of this drama on the press trips I have participated in…but not all. “One bad apple” as they say…
Thanks for reading, Marilyn! May you never experience the bad apples =)
This was such an awesome, happy read! (Except for the comments on hogging the locally bottle rum….. um…. all bets are off for local rum!) A lot of the destinations I have travelled to on press trips have been alcohol free. Local tourism boards, whose budgets are subject to the municipal council’s approval) just can’t cover the cost of drinks and it’s a difficult category to budget for. So now we always start meals with DMO reps with the offer of “we’d love to buy you a drink” and we will be direct and say “I know that not all boards are able to cover alcohol – we’d love to cover the wine tonight”. Some laugh and say that they wouldn’t dream of having us cover that tab while others are gracious and happy to accept. The way I figure it, if they wanted me to cover the local alcohol scene, they’d arrange for me to have a winery or brewery tour (and some do!).
You are a diamond in the rough! It’s so important for writers to realize that budgets are not unlimited, and depending on where you are, alcohol may be a really sticky issue with the client. That’s why it’s so important to outline expectations of what’s covered up front. Sounds like you do that AND like you’re a wonderful press trip guest. I’m adding you to my list =)
Haha you’ve nailed it on many counts! Can we add “Talk non-stop about all the places you’ve travelled to and monopolize every dinner with your travel tales?” or how about “the folks who use press trips to hook up with their paramours alma other writers? It’s great to canoodle on someone else’s dime.”
But m all time fave example of #8 was the travel writer who arrived early at a media dinner and removed all the gift bag swag from the other guests plates and stashed it away before the rest of the group arrived. Or, the woman who swept an entire cheese tray into her plastic lined purse at a cocktail party. Gotta shake your head sometimes.
Oooh these are some great stories! Sad that they aren’t surprising! The cheese tray one had me rolling… what is it with folks and the free food? Thanks for reading =)
I have been on my share of press trips and I must say, there is always usually ONE! Enjoyed your snarkiness (is that a word?) and loved actually meeting you on one of these! (ps this post got reposted in a facebook travel blogger forum and I just happened to come across it!)
I think we were pretty luck at Blue Osa – no horror shows =) Great to meet you and can’t wait for our reunion in Cancun!
Hi Angie, nice article. I think the real story here is that there actually is a blacklist. As a writer, I find that thought a bit scary. I definitely support the idea of not inviting unprofessional journalists on press trips. But who’s to say that a writer couldn’t end up on the blacklist accidentally?
Surely writers don’t have a monopoly on being arrogant and demanding – I bet you’ve met some PR folks who exhibit the same behavior. What if one of those rogue PR peeps blacklists someone who doesn’t deserve it?
Some sincere questions: Do you vet the blacklist to verify claims made against those on it? Are multiple offenses required to get on the blacklist? Does the blacklist include the name of the person who did the blacklisting, so you can consider how much you trust that person? Is there an opportunity to get off the blacklist (imagine a newbie who messes up her first press trip but matures into a respected professional – does she ever get a second chance?) If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” then I fear that we as an industry have some serious problems.
I am probably exaggerating with some of these concerns, but I think any kind of blacklist in any industry is a lousy idea, for the reasons mentioned above, and since you’ve casually referenced the blacklist a few times, some additional insight on these issues would be appreciated. Thanks!
Hi Scott – thanks for reading! I should be more clear — the blacklist isn’t actually a hard copy list that everyone in the PR industry unequivocally uses and passes around. It’s more like a word of mouth system we use to vet potential press trip invitees. As a professional publicist, part of my job is choosing quality writers to visit my clients’ destinations. Without the luxury of meeting every writer in person before traveling, it can be hard to determine who is quality and who’s just there for the free shrimp & vodka. It’s my duty to ensure clients get matched up with true professionals who produce great content, and a part of making that happen involves reaching out to PR colleagues to determine who they’d NEVER travel with again.
No one could end up on the metaphorical blacklist accidentally. It’s not like people get blacklisted for showing up late to breakfast once. It’s more like sexual harassment, rudeness, racism, theft, drunk driving, chronic lack of concern for anyone on the trip… serious offenses. I trust my colleagues in the industry to tell me if they’ve traveled with someone who exhibits these characteristics or activities. If I travel with a writer who makes a trip difficult with excessive whining or complaining, chronic tardiness or any of the other issues I mention in my piece, then I let all my colleagues across the country know when I return. It’s not something I do often, but if I feel the need to make others aware of someone’s behavior, there is always a compelling reason – and usually an unbelievable cocktail party story.
I don’t research my colleagues’ claims about a writer’s appearance on the blacklist. If a colleague tells me So-and-So is a horror show, I take that as gospel. There are hundreds if not thousands of responsible, qualified journalists and bloggers to invite on trips, and not a publicist in the industry has time to vet each one individually. We publicists have to have each other’s backs, and I take pride in ensuring writers who make my life miserable (or harass waiters, or beg my client awkwardly for free stuff, or get in fist fights in the parking lot) during a trip don’t get the chance to do that again to my colleagues.
You may think it’s a lousy idea to have a blacklist, but I think it’s lousy to travel with entitled jerks who put my reputation with my clients (who pay my bills!) at risk with their unsavory behavior.
Thanks for the detailed reply, Angie. The fact that there is no actual blacklist document pretty much takes care of most of my concerns. There’s obviously nothing wrong with word of mouth and sharing stories with your peers. That is quite different from the picture I had gotten based on your earlier descriptions of the blacklist, so I appreciate the clarification!
I’m with Mr. Sowden on #10, as I’m about 2 years behind in photo editing and writing. I’ll always have a backlog, I fear.
Social media sharing happens during trips if possible (love Instagram and Pinterest for immediacy), but I’m guilty of taking my time with longer pieces. Now that I’m uploading automatically to Google Photos, I can share photo galleries with hosts more quickly.
Also, re: tipping, it’s helpful if this is spelled out in advance. I’ve joined a few trips last minute and simply had no cash to distribute because I was waiting for funds to reach my bank.
Many thanks for this amusing piece, Amy. I’ve been gathering material for an exposé from the back of the bus, but my anecdotes are mild compared to yours. Nobody has died. Yet.
There are people out there like THAT?! Oh my… I don’t actually do many group press trips as such (most of my trips are with family) but I have been on a few and am pleased to say that this isn’t something I’ve come across. (OK, so I’ve known one or two people to turn up late… but that’s about it.)
Loved this, thanks! My husband is in hospitality, I know all about whiney customers, but how on earth do you get to be a full time travel blogger and still be a princess? That’s a rare talent 😉
Oh my what a world you have shared in. I do not have press trips of my own but I have personally seen or read posts from such Divas. I’ve only had invites that were personally directed and do enjoy them so graciously. Regardless of the Divas you seem to have a very success run at most trips / ignore the trolls and drama queens – and let them hog their $9 rum – rather have them drunk and passed out than late for that safari and dinner (more dessert for you ) 😉
I love connecting with the PR folks on the trips and often wonder whether they’re sharing the good and the bad when they get back. I know the bloggers certainly discuss bad behavior when we see it and wonder sometimes how these folks get included. My personal favorite was a gal who came along and coughed, sneezed and gagged her way through the entire trip…I typically shoot video to include in my features and couldn’t get a single clip without the hacking sounds. We all felt bad for her the first day, but by the second day, even the PR person encouraged her to stay in her room and get better.
Oh that’s the worst! I didn’t even mention that – the folks who are constantly in the shot with no awareness of how they’re just totally in the way. Thank you for pointing that out! And thanks for reading =)
Wow, unfortunately I’ve seen this once. It was incredibly uncomfortable.
It really can be uncomfortable for everyone! Thanks for reading!
I just laughed and laughed and made my whole office turn their collective heads. Girl, this is spot on. I’m so happy you spoke candidly about this very issue! I’m fairly new to FAM trips and often get grabbed by old school PR companies, so I’m the youngest by 20 years. It’s incredible what I’ve seen from other writers on the road. Here’s a few I can think of:
-Woman indignantly asking for a wine tour to end because we weren’t all spitting out our wine ‘like professionals’
-Man wearing SAME t-shirt for 10 DAYS through Taiwan, while biking in blistering heat and staying at five-star hotels. THEN his wife got online and slammed me and another young writer for ‘being on Twitter too much’ during the trip. Uh hello, that’s why they hired me?
-Reporters ganging up on another reporter and teasing her because she had Aspergers. We are ADULTS people.
-Reporter calling me a horrible person because I was offered a free spa treatment and he wasn’t. Not because I asked for it, but I was NICE and they thought I might enjoy it after we chatted for a while. He was rude to staff, didn’t tip and I found out later didn’t write about the trip.
Oh man, I need to stop or I’ll start writing a blog post myself.
I’ve NEVER had a bad trip – doesn’t matter if I’m in the middle of nowhere Arkansas or the beautiful Caribbean island of Curacao, I love it all. I have the best job in the world. It floors me when people grump though these amazing experiences! Go work in a cube then if you’re over it!
Hilarious…and spot-on! I too have met some lovely and amazing people, now friends, on press trips. And, like you, am always so relieved where there’s not a jerk in the bunch to try and ruin it for everyone else. I’m floored by the behaviors you mention above (and have seen many of them in action). Thankfully, the wonderful, witty, cultured writers always outnumber the cue-the-eyeroll divas!
Uf, I can say been there, done that… We are travel bloggers and have been attending some press trips and we are still wondering how the heck did someone even got invited on a press trip. We were blogging for months, before we even dare to make a pitch to someone for a press trip and even now, we are always a bit nervous, not to let down the organisors… After all, there can only be one bad thing and you are easily on the blac list… But yes, we met few people, who were there to play and not work… And putting them on the “blacklist” is right, comparing to other bloggers, who work hard and appreciate the opportunity they got.
Oh, Lord! I’ve never been on a press trip, but I’ve definitely been on some work trips like that, where there was just that one person who wasn’t at all interested in working, or seeing where we’d traveled – just their own personal drunkfest where it was most likely to embarrass our group. I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad trip, where I couldn’t have some fun or find something amazing. It’s always there if you choose to look for it.
Lol..this is really funny, I know there ares tons of people out there like your examples, but it’s hard to imagine someone acting like that instead of having fun and appreciating the trip. Some of us would LOVE to be included and take their place!
Wow…I am fairly new to travel blogging and yet to experience a press trip, but I can’t believe people actually act like that! Thanks for the warning!
Late to these comments but linked this piece to my own on a press trip ordeal caused by one of the worst journalists I’ve ever had to share a plane & minibus with! Not only had he done no research and saw the trip as a ‘free holiday’, he kept us waiting a long time one morning and wouldn’t stop talking complete rubbish. I hope he never ends up on one of yours…
(trip was to Jerusalem & Tel Aviv in Israel)
EWWWW. Your story is an icky one, but so familiar! Sorry you had to deal with a diva. Happens to the best of us!!
Angie — I’ve sent your article out several times, usually after a press trip in which SOMEONE behaved badly. One time, after we were specifically asked not to wear anything denim to an excursion, our DIVA came down in denim leggings. When the host picked us up and saw the leggings, she said do you have something else to wear? The DIVA responded they were not jeans. The host insisted she change. And that was after the DIVA wanted her return flight changed at the CVB’s expense. They said no, not our problem. Another time, a blogger would not eat at a certain restaurant bc they only served beer and wine. They had to escort him to a different restaurant where they served hard liquor. I thought I had seen it all!
hahaha very funny! I found your blog while looking for tips for my first press trip. I’m glad I found you <3 keep up the good work and yes PR articles are very interesting especially for new bloggers like myself.
Came across this website looking for press trip ideas – I never thought that bloggers would complain during a press trip or be a complete diva.. I don’t know how they are considered “influencers” in the first place!
Hi Angie! Glad to have found your blog and I punch myself for not finding and reading it sooner. 🙂
I’ve met Kristin Luna when she visited Dubai years back and I agree, she’s very nice. I’ve been following her blog since the time blogging was simple, uncomplicated and we just write what we feel…I started blogging around the same time with Kristin, in 2006/2007.
I love both your blogs!
Btw, I’ve been on a few press trips and diva bloggers really tick me off!
Love this article and your humour. People, generally amazing, can totally suck, huh? Hopefully one day I’ll get to implement NONE of your tip whilst on press trips.
Hilarious and very well-written. I can just see some of those press trip divas cringing at every word. 🙂
Ha! Went on a press trip with a certain “Jen on a Jetplane” and she literally committed every single one of these atrocities and more. Honestly the worst traveler and human being I have ever encountered. I don’t know how anyone could be as intolerant and disrespectful to a country and culture and call themselves a travel expert.
Really helpful Info! that’s all i can say about your Posts. Great tips! Keep travelling, enjoying and recounting your experiences for our vicarious pleasure.
Cool post! Thanks! Nearly every press tour has one individual who is some combination of the aforementioned traits. I swear to you that all of these cases are true… They’ve either occurred to me, to someone I know, or to someone I’ve read about. I also remember my writer collapsing on a press trip that I had invited them on. Autoflower Seeds