Press trips or press tours represent the main way to build a relationship of fruitful collaboration between companies and the media and create an ideal bridge between producers and consumers.
This is even more relevant for all those product categories that are judged by the consumer through taste.
Federica Morselli, fruitecom key account, talks about what the advantages are for agri-food companies in involving journalists, bloggers, influencers, and experts, in an experience of direct contact with the world of agri-food through journeys that will allow them to discover typical products and excellences, directly in the territories where they are produced.
Taste is something perceived within a broader experience of the senses. Hence, visiting production sites and speaking face-to-face with the producers, on site events and tastings, are now in an integral part of company communication plans. Tasting a specific food or drink is essential to understanding it. Thus, seeing the places and the protagonists of its production, allows a person to grasp the elements that are most characteristic and unique to each product. The organization of a press tour starts exactly from this premise, involving journalists, influencers, bloggers, critics, and experts with the aim of facilitating their role as ambassadors of the quality and peculiarities of food and wine products such as food, wine, beer, and spirits.
Press tour with Marlene
What are the advantages of a press tour?
A press tour allows the company that wants to promote the excellence of its products to welcome communication experts and professionals, offering them the opportunity to immerse themselves in the environment, to share the company values and talents.
What better opportunity, then, than to enrich the immersive experience of tasting a product by tasting it in the place where it is made? Tasting food where it is produced creates a backdrop that can easily favor the effectiveness of a reportage, allowing the journalist to talk not only about the product itself but to link it to anthropological elements and contextualize it within the territory.
Case study: a historic press trip to Costa Rica for Chiquita
“In May 2007 I accompanied a group of Italian and Greek journalists to Costa Rica. Authoritative professionals from the press, TV and radio participated. The aim was to offer the media the opportunity of documenting the progress made up to that moment in reducing the environmental impact of the banana production cycle. Fruitecom's work in the preparatory and organizational phases of the trip, its contribution to the preparation of a particularly convincing press pack full of content, considerably facilitated my task and simplified the management of the participants' "special requests". The extraordinary “human” dimension of those trips was linked to meeting banana plantation workers and their families, building relationships with work colleagues in tropical countries and being immersed in a natural environment vibrant with vitality. However, the professional dimension, which was not separated from the human one, was instead that of sharing the richness of emotions with people who would perhaps then want to talk about them. Of that press tour organized in collaboration with fruitecom, I also remember the remarkable coverage in the media and the relationship of trust that was built with some of the journalists during that trip. "
By Luciana Luciani, formerly head of communication at Chiquita Italia
Press tour with Chiquita in Costa Rica
How to organize a press tour
The preparation of a press tour must answer the questions: What? Where? When? How? Additionally, we must include a further question: Who? Initially, of course, it will be necessary to consider which aspects will be central to the experience of the individual participants and what their background knowledge is. It is also important to consider what kind of medium they write for or collaborate with. Indeed, the drafting of an effective program and the preparation of a rich and detailed press pack must consider the attitudes of each guest and capture the elements that pique their interest. For example, a program suitable for an audience of professional tasters or food journalists may not be the best choice for a group of lifestyle influencers or journalists.
A press tour can last from a few hours to several days, depending on the objectives, budget, and schedule of the participants.
A good press trip does not only lead participants to a visit of a laboratory or a production site, but it also builds an offering that combines informational and entertainment activities. An interactive cooking class for example can represent, in the food sector, an option to be peppered with tasting and information sessions to make the overall experience more enjoyable.
Press tour with the wines of Piedmont
At the same time, it is important to guarantee an experience that expresses the values of the company you visit and where, for example, the area of origin represents a strategic driver of communication and product positioning. Therefore, it will be advisable to include activities and excursions in the program to allow participants to immerse themselves in the territory and experience its charm.
A mountain producer who wishes to communicate dynamism and energy can provide for the organization of a rafting descent along the rapids of a stream. Conversely, a company in the same area that prefers to sell its product by conveying relaxation and well-being, may offer the pleasure of a thermal bath with a view of the mountains.
Alternating informational activities with time to experience the moment is in some ways the key to the success of a press tour. However, you should not try to impress at all costs. A perfect program balances the offer and never allows extra activities to overshadow the company.
“To attract highly involved wine lovers and foodies additional, focused benefits must be provided: learning and mastery of techniques (the hands-on experiences), aesthetic appreciation and creativity, and authenticity as manifested through interpretation, celebration and expressions of heritage. […] By their nature, food and wine events are of particular value in rural areas where the value chain can be directly enhanced.”
Donald Getz, “Wine and Food Events: Experiences and Impacts”
Press Tour with Consorzio Morellino of Scansano
As anticipated, media professionals may have very different spheres of interest and communication styles that inevitably lead to different types of involvement.
Journalists specializing in food & wine tend to be well disposed towards in-depth study. They often write longer articles, focus on technical aspects, and rarely deal personally with the photographs that will accompany the piece. This will mean having quality content but will require support as far as pictures are concerned. Bloggers and influencers are usually more autonomous when it comes to photographic equipment. Images can become, on the web and on social media, a central element within the communication of the event and brand. This will mean less detailed content but, on the other hand, a strong showcasing of the surrounding environment and - in most cases - the dissemination of live content such as Instagram stories.
Those who organize a press tour must put together the right mix of participants based on the type of product and experience. In some cases, you can choose to offer different activities to members of the press and to new media journalists by organizing press tours at different times or by choosing to involve only one group. This second option allows you to form more cohesive groups with strong personal and professional affinities. This is a choice that allows you to organize more specific and sometimes even more effective press tours.
Last, but not least, the one-to-one press tours, tailor-made for important individual appearances, such as a prestigious foreign journalist. This formula, common in the world of wine, aims to provide a tailor-made experience and to accommodate the individual participant’s wishes and desires when it comes to what they would like to study further.
Case Study: a one-to-one wine press trip for ‘I Vini del Piemonte’
The ‘I Vini del Piemonte’ consortium, which brings together important producers with the aim of enhancing regional wine excellence, had a specific goal: to maximize the visibility of its members with a tailor-made article about the territory. Alongside activities organized in groups, the press trip activity for the Consortium thus provided for the involvement of top-level international journalists, invited individually, who expressed their preferences on the wineries to visit and on the organization of the tour. The result was a journalistic coverage of the highest quality and attention, resulting from the competence of the individual guests and their strong personal interest in the destinations offered in the package.
Press tour with the wines of Piedmont
What can you expect from a press tour in terms of visibility?
A press trip and what it can bring in terms of communication value and media coverage cannot be compared to what an investment in advertising can bring. Potentially it can bring much more in terms of positive impact on the reputation and credibility of a company because it allows a third party to vouch for the quality. Third parties are perceived by consumers as independent and therefore authoritative. At the same time, we must not think that by offering a short trip to a media professional we are "buying" what they will say, or how they will say it. Media professionals have an interest in maintaining public trust in them by winning readers with authentic and interesting stories.
The operation, therefore, is more like inviting friends to spend a few days at our country house: we must make them feel pampered and important by allowing them to spend pleasant and stimulating moments that they will want share. The press tour is part of the typical activities of Public Relations and should be imagined with the aim of building solid and long-term relationships with the media, rather than by evaluating initial impact in terms of numbers, content, and length of articles, posts or Instagram stories.
Case study: Autochtona as an opportunity to get to know the terroir
Fruitecom is the historic co-organizer of Autochtona, a wine event that takes place in October in the pavilions of Fiera Bolzano and which, in 2020, adapted itself to the pandemic by becoming the Autochtona Award. Why ignore the presence of numerous local qualified professionals who, year after year, participate in the event as judges and wine critics? For this reason, the main event is accompanied by a visit to wineries and vineyards in South Tirol - Südtirol, giving invited journalists and experts the opportunity to come into direct contact with the producers of the local Consortium.
A wine press tour in South Tyrol
The organization steps
Considerably in advance of the period selected for the trip, we begin by choosing the individual (for an individual tour), or the group of professionals (for a collective press tour) to invite. A first contact is established, followed by formal and personalized invitations. This first phase is followed by an exchange of information on the product and the company that is the object of the trip and at the same time on the adjustment and adaptation of the program to individual needs. The logistics of the trip are planned meticulously and at each step we interface and keep in touch with all the interlocutors involved.
To complete the informational dossier, participants are sent the press pack, a first set of images, and the tour schedule.
During the pandemic, all of this seems impossible; in fact, with the due precautions, fruitecom successfully set up an in person press activity in the summer of 2020.