The press trip from hell - or how to give PRs a bad name

It had sounded like a jolly knees up, albeit unusually brief: an overnight press trip to Spain for the summer launch of an upmarket club.

Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong on a recent press trip to Spain (pic credit: Ken Welsh/Getty Images)
Everything that could go wrong, did go wrong on a recent press trip to Spain (pic credit: Ken Welsh/Getty Images)

But the PR company (who shall remain unnamed) who arranged for six British journalists to attend the glittering occasion went on to break every rule in the PR book.

Blunders occurred from the word go and included:

• Thursday 11.30 PM: No taxi as promised at the airport for the one journalist who flew out a night early. PR not at the airport.

• Friday AM: The people carrier organised to collect the rest of the pack from the airport was impossible to find, and was only located by one of the journalists, who conveniently spoke Spanish, nowhere near the arrivals hall. There had been no board, or any indication as to where the taxi was.

• Friday PM: The launch event at the club was attended by the six journalists, three PRs (indeed, the entire ‘fleet’ of the 12-month old company), and the head PR’s boyfriend and brother, all of whom proceeded to get drunk.

• One journalist lost her wristband during the event and was not allowed back into the VIP area. When she messaged the PR she was asked ‘do you want to leave now?’ It took some time for the PR to deal with the issue of getting her back in.

• The PR insisted two remaining journalists at the event leave at 1am, when she wanted to leave, after one of her colleagues had vomited and collapsed in a drunken stupor.

• But the PR then took the ‘chauffeur’ provided for the trip and insisted the journalists take a taxi back to the hotel (she was staying elsewhere).

• Saturday: A day of rest at the hotel - there was no effort to get journalists into old town Marbella, which a couple of them had wanted.

• Lunch to be hosted by PR at hotel. PR says, by Whatsapp, at the last minute that she can’t attend. Representative from the hotel, at the lunch, speaks no English.

• There is no vegetarian food option for one vegetarian journalist.

• The main course on the limited set menu took two hours to arrive. During this time journalists are messaging the PR furiously asking her what is going on. There is no response.

• Journalists see the PR, who has now checked into the hotel with her boyfriend and entourage, walking past the restaurant in her bikini to join her boyfriend and friends, and lying in the sun drinking wine.

• PR makes no attempt to speak to the journalists or resolve the lunch problem.

• PR does half-heartedly say goodbye to journalists (by now seething) in the grounds of the hotel. But she does not come to the foyer at 6pm when taxi is due to take the journalists to airport. (In fact, she had booked it for 6.30pm but told them 6pm – one of the journalists then reorganised it for 6pm).

More usually on press trips PRs can appear over-anxious, and even overwhelming, in their bid to make sure everything runs smoothly. This PR, however, simply didn’t appear to care.

Perhaps she should publish a new PR guidebook: 'How to Succeed in PR without Really Trying'.

A travel journalist

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