As our travel PR firm works tenaciously to confirm top-tier media for press familiarization trips each year, we always keep a keen eye out for freelancer writers with a proven track record of producing for our clients top target outlets. While we always host key editors and staff writers from national and regional magazines and newspapers, hosting freelance writers provides the added benefit of allowing multiple stories to come out of a single trip.

Often freelance writers contribute to multiple media outlets, generally covering the same or similar beats for each. When one of these outlets is a syndicated newspaper, the benefits can extend even further.

For instance, recently The Chicago Tribune, part of the vast Tribune network, published an article entitled, “4 Romantic Getaways, Not Just for Valentine’s Day.”  The story’s reach extended far beyond The Chicago Tribune’s readers alone, as it was picked up and published in Tribune newspapers in other geographic markets including those represented by The Hartford Courant, The Baltimore Sun, South Florida Sun Sentinel and more.

Abelow PR client, Casa Bonita Tropical Lodge, was featured in the roundup, which was perfectly timed for publication on Sunday, February 8 – one week before Valentine’s Day. Special contributor to Tribune Newspapers and freelance writer, Terri Colby, experienced the 13-room eco-lodge on the Dominican Republic’s southwestern coast in April of 2014 on a group press trip.

So how can you be sure in hosting a freelance writer that you will be guaranteed coverage? Here are a few simple tips to help you maximize results.

  1. Do Your Research – When you are in touch with a freelancer regarding a press trip opportunity, ask for sample stories published within the past year from the outlets of theirs that your client is most interested in being featured in. You can also go directly to the website of a magazine or newspaper and type the writer’s name into the search box to get a full list of all of their published stories (assuming they are all posted online). Get to know their level of consistency being published in that outlet and gain a thorough understanding of their beat.
  1. Request an Assignment Letter When Possible – It is best to get an assignment letter from the writer’s editor at the outlet(s) you are most set on being featured in. Understand however, that it is becoming more and more rare for editors (particularly at large newspapers) to provide assignment letters. There is always trust involved, so take your time and make your best judgment.
  1. Ask What Stories They Have in the Works – When you are communicating with the writer in advance of the trip, ask what stories they are already working on, which are confirmed for publication. Often times, you may find that they have a confirmed assignment for a roundup feature a few months down the road, and your property or destination might fit in perfectly.

What strategy do you employ when putting together a press group for a FAM trip?