Journalist Junkets – the practice of sending reporters to a news event and footing the bill – has long been verboten for many mainstream media outlets, which tie paying the tab for expenses to journalistic objectivity.
However, in an era when some of the media landscape is dominated by bloggers who play outside of the traditional rules of journalism, offering media members the chance to attend faraway events can be an effective part of an overall media strategy, if applied correctly.
“What we do is put together a strategy of what we want to get out of an activity or an experience, and it all depends on who the client is and who you want to reach, and then we have to determine who the proper media people are,” says Alissa Blate, EVP and director of the global consumer lifestyle practice at MWW Group.
Traditional media outlets tend to insist on paying the bill for press trips, but many consumer lifestyle publications and bloggers will accept the offer without reimbursement. Bloggers, who are now contacted more often, also tend to respond with near-instant coverage, Blate adds.
The use of journalist junkets has also been affected by the economy, resulting in fewer traditional outlets accepting trips because they can't reimburse, or they can't afford to have reporters out of the area, notes Ann Barlow, West Coast president and partner at Peppercom.
“Now [journalists] say... can't afford to send people, or they don't have enough people for a reporter to be out of the office for the day or for the afternoon,” she says.
Many media outlets prefer to plan their own trips, tying their financial independence to journalistic objectivity
Mainstream media that do accept spots on media trips usually insist on reimbursing the company or agency that made the plans
Journalist junkets have been affected by the economy. Many outlets can't afford them or to have reporters out of the office