Most bloggers have traded “PR fail” stories – the spectacularly off-target pitch, the “dear sir” email to a female blogger, the unsolicited sending of enormous files – but destination marketing organizations (DMOs) have their own set of “fail” stories when it comes to working with bloggers. When forming a DMO-blogger working partnership, it’s critical to make sure it’s a good fit in order to avoid those failures. Sometimes it’s easy to spot a yellow flag early – and sometimes it’s not. Here, one travel PR professional lists five reasons that he says “no” to blogger press trip requests – or that make him vow not to work with a blogger a second time.

Sunset on Kona, Hawaii

Sunset on Kona, Hawaii

1. Ridiculously Short Timing on the Request

Working in Hawaii with great travel-based clients, we get a lot more request for assistance than we can accommodate. Nothing is more frustrating than receiving an inquiry for travel support one week or days prior to a writer/blogger arriving in the Aloha State.

My team and I rarely ever say “No” to a writer and will always do what we can to help make that visit a productive one. However, bloggers need to realize that asking us to drop everything and magically put an itinerary together for you in a day is just unacceptable. Next.

2. It’s Your Way or the Highway

I understand bloggers have an agenda or a point of view in their writing or approach to covering our clients, however, please understand that there is another side to every story – and sometimes it’s more intriguing than the one you’re pursuing.

I appreciate writers who have done their research before contacting me and provide a wishlist of things to experience, people to meet, etc. But please be open-minded to what I’m suggesting as well. Hawaii is a unique place (like many destinations) that’s more sophisticated than sun, sand, and surf. I’m here to help make that story more compelling, more relevant, or correct by putting writers in touch with better contacts, suggesting changes to the story angle to be more accurate, and try to evolve their understanding or perception of Hawaii.

If it’s gonna be your way without any compromise or willingness to learn more about our side of the story, there’s the highway.

3. You’re Asking for WAAAAY Too Much

My team and I gladly consider all reasonable requests for assistance and will try to assist everyone who contacts us, even if it’s just providing information. But once the request for help starts to get excessive or greedy, that’s an instant turnoff to wanting to work with a blogger no matter how good they are.

Covering 100% of a blogger’s travel expenses never happens. Be reasonable with your requests and you’ll be amazed at how much more we’ll want to work with you.

4. You’re Bringing Who With You?

We understand there are some cases where it’s necessary for a blogger to travel with a spouse, significant other, child, or friend – to take your photos, shoot video, provide another perspective for the story, etc., etc., etc. We’ve heard all the reasons.

That’s fine, but what’s not fine is when the additional traveler (or travelers) starts to negatively influence a blogger’s commitment to the itinerary my team and I have labored over for weeks. The unexpected need to cancel the morning snorkel sail because your 3-year-old child didn’t have a good night’s rest and now you’re too exhausted to wake up really isn’t acceptable. Or backing out of an aerial adventure because the friend you’re traveling with doesn’t like helicopters.

My team has worked hard with our industry partners to organize these experiences for you. When you stop showing up for things during a visit, there’s a pretty good chance we won’t be assisting you again unless the terms are different.

5. Things Didn’t Turn Out The Way They Were Supposed To

You flaked out on scheduled activities and we didn’t find out until the provider contacted us. You were rude to our partners who are trying to go out of their way to assist you. You dropped our name for additional freebies and special assistance during your visit without us knowing. And my favorite of all, you failed to produce the content, stories, videos, etc. we agreed on at the conclusion of your visit.

Yes, these are true life scenarios I’ve dealt with. These folks typically end up on blacklists and get no future help from us. And the community of PR people in Hawaii are extremely tight, so there’s a good chance others may not want to work with you either. All we ask is that you behave like a professional during your visit. There’s a saying here in Hawaii that “to get Aloha, you need to give Aloha.”

Follow that and the Golden Rule and we’ll be fine.


Guest Author Bio: Nathan Kam has been immersed in public relations in Hawaii’s travel and tourism industry for more than 13 years and has worked on some of the state’s top leisure destination marketing campaigns. As a vice president at McNeil Wilson Communications (MWC) – a division of Anthology Marketing Group (AMG), Hawaii’s largest full-service integrated marketing company – he’s primarily responsible for managing the public relations activities for the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau (the state’s marketing agency for North America), Big Island Visitors Bureau, and Hawaii Food & Wine Festival accounts. Nathan is also a lead strategist helping clients elevate their brand presence in traditional and new media channels.