My husband, Jim, and I didn’t start out with the plan of working together. Nor did it ever enter our heads that we could be treated like A-listers on FAM trips together. Initially, it was my dream to pursue travel writing alongside our travels. But that changed when we went to New Orleans in 2016.
I was there for the Ultimate Travel Writer’s Conference. Jim wanted to come along for the food—we’re foodies, and New Orleans is a foodie’s paradise.
So, during the day, while I was in the conference, Jim took the opportunity to tour New Orleans’ various attractions. He brought the camera along, taking pictures to chronicle his adventures.
His photos were excellent—so good, in fact, that they didn’t need editing to include with story submissions.
When we headed to Barbados in November of 2016 on assignment, Jim once again manned the camera, and I took notes to create the stories. Returning home, I crafted the two promised story submissions, using Jim’s unedited photos. Using Jim’s photos allows me to focus solely on the story angles and subjects, bringing a much more detailed story. I also don’t risk missing an important nugget of information. This technique has revolutionized my writing, and our editors love the articles.
We had hit upon a system that strengthened our process and appeal for FAM trips.
After returning home from a media showcase in March, I began sending out pitch letters to publications to secure press trips, and our first official press trip as a couple came in April as a result of the PR professional seeing our biographical sketches and work on our recently revamped website, Betsi’s World. (We purposely turned it from a travel blog into a showcase for our work together which has yielded press trip offers for both of us.)
“Your husband is part of your team?” the PR professional asked. “When you fill out the request form, be sure to include his information as well.”
I did as she asked, and completed the form and sent it off. Within an hour the response came back, “Welcome to the King & Prince Media Trip Betsi and Jim Hill.”
The press trip to the King & Prince Resort on St. Simons Island was the first of two official press trips as a couple that we took in just 30 days. We have two more press trips together in the fall of 2017, and a third one in the planning stages.
We’ve come up with a system that works for us as a photography and writing team:
- Research the destination ahead of time, creating a loose plan for story angles. Communication is essential! Both of you need to know what the plan is for story angles so that the photography will help tell the story, but be flexible and expect the unexpected. Story angles can change on a press trip. Calmly communicating with each other is imperative.
- As a couple traveling and working together, you should market yourselves as a team to the destination. Your clips should include both of you. Jim and I share bylines; he receives all photography credit, and I receive authorship credit. This method creates double value to the destination—they have both a dedicated writer and photographer to cover their locale.
- Press trips can be full days and nights, leaving little time for you to step away from the “work” and just enjoy each other. Being aware of this ahead of time helps you while you are on the press trip. When you are on press trips together, it is work so professionalism is crucial.
- If it is an individual press trip, it can be beneficial to split up—one of you talking with the owner or conducting an interview while the other is touring the facility or just snapping photographs. This approach maximizes your time and allows for more in-depth personal coverage.
We employed this strategy at Jeptha Creed Distillery in Shelbyville, Kentucky. I sat down with the owners, Joyce and Autumn Nethery, for a chat/interview, while Jim toured the facility. Using this tactic brought a much more focused and personal aspect to the story of Jeptha Creed and the Nethery family.
In addition, having a second perspective of the destination is helpful. There have been several times when Jim has brought out an angle I missed.
Our recent press trips to St. Simons Island and Kentucky will produce over 13 stories. We both posted on social media during our journey, creating a social media “buzz” about the destinations.
The destinations are getting double return on the investment of hosting us. They’re getting double the coverage, both in stories and in social media—and we get to see some incredible places together.