PR TRIPS CAN BE a bit like Russian Roulette. You conduct your online dealings with a well-meaning PR firm or tourism board – essentially spinning the chamber, and then you board your flight, bound for the who knows – effectively pulling the trigger.
Some trips exceed my expectations; I am allowed to roam cage free to film, write, photograph and gallivant, and everyone goes home happy. Some trips disappoint: I am confined to a series of phony interviews, carefully planned “cultural encounters,” and long stretches of anesthetized boredom.
A recent media trip was an example of how it can all come together right.
Along with 4 other travel video producers,* my mission was to explore, shoot, edit, and present my “take” on Cancun and the luxurious hotels that were hosting the fun and footing the bill. In short, it was awesome.
I wanted to exceed the expectations that Marriott’s marketing team may have had in mind in regards to what a “travel video” looks like. To do this I needed showcase the hotel and surrounding region in a way that evoked how it actually felt to be there as opposed to recasting the typical visual cliches (which in Cancun would be like poolside cocktails and Spring break-style beach partying), that not only tend to objectify a place and culture, but are ultimately less interesting.
I also wanted to play with some unique visual styles that had inspired me from one of my favorite music videos.
Kid Cudi’s “Pursuit of Happiness” music video explores the cognitive confusion that often blurs waking and sleeping – a theme I wanted to explore in the context of travel video. Although I was only working with a 3 year-old Canon VIXIA HF100 and a last gen GoPro, I knew that a little inspiration mixed with a little imagination could go a long way.
I don’t think my vid is anything special. It’s the hurried, albeit joyous result of an over-caffeinated travel monkey. I do think, however, that is an good example of how a travel blogger can create sponsored content for a corporate client and have an absolute blast doing it.
I also believe that without visionary PR companies like Diamond PR** that such awesome, envelope-pushing press trips like this would likely not exist.
The takeaway for me from this experience is be yourself and have fun – with any luck everyone will end up enjoying themselves as much as you do.
** Diamond PR and San Juan Marriott & Stellaris Casino were awarded a Gold HSMAI Adrian Award a recognition of excellence in travel marketing for a press trip I participated in called ‘Vloggers in Paradise’ in June 2011.
Music ‘Island Opiate’ by CHAPPO