Overlong press trips
A 14-day press-trip itinerary came my way this week. I was privileged to be invited, but two weeks is too long for me to spare.
In this case, that was confounded by the short notice: there’s almost no chance that I’d had such an uninterrupted, commitment-free gap in my immediate calendar. Were I to, I’d be pretty worried about my prospects.
Even if the invite was for yonks ahead, however, I’d still say no. Ultimately, I’ve got a set amount that I look (need) to earn per day. The downside of press trips – individual or group – is that I’m most likely not earning that, unless I can do other bits of work while away. If that’s not the case, then my day rate for all the time spent travelling (plus a day or two after writing the thing) becomes the fee for that eventual feature divided by the number of days. In other words, not very much at all. In other words, press trips are not a time of great prosperity for us freelancers.
(Nor for most staffers, who are forced to take them as annual leave.)
If I can get multiple commissions then that temporary day rate increases, of course. But for a 14-day trip, I estimate I’d have to get about ten commissions to even come close to making said adventure cost-efficient — and that’s unfeasible.
I once did a 16-day jaunt for the Times’ former escorted tours supplement, and — as amazing as it was — regretted it afterwards. Since then, the longest I’ve been away is for ten days. Seven to ten is about right: for eco reasons, I’d rather get more commissions and stay longer, it’s just that there’s a limit in how much time I realistically have to pitch, and simply to how many commissions I’m likely to get.
What Richard thinks…