Why you should ask for travel costs when attending brand & PR events

Last updated 22 October 2013
Train tickets

Invitations to glittering celebrity events and press shows sound wonderful, but things are less sparkly for bloggers than appearances suggest.

Getting there incurs expense.  The total travel and attendance time – possibly a whole day if you’re travelling long distance – might otherwise be spent earning elsewhere. Possibly you’ve shelled out for childcare or a partner has taken time off work so you can attend. And unlike a journalist, you’ve probably not got a paid article commissioned to justify the time and money spent attending.

Having taken notes and photos during the event, once home you’ll spend further time editing photos and writing a post.  Is it worth it for bloggers? It’s definitely worth it for the brand. All that lovely publicity!

Don’t automatically blame the PR though. They’re trying to juggle the expectations of the brand as well as trying to keep bloggers happy.

Blogger relations is still quite new to many PRs, agencies and brands.   No doubt they want to get it right, but they don’t always realise how much it costs bloggers in personal time or money to “pop along” and subsequently help drive publicity about their client.  It’s up to us to remind them.

If we don’t ask for travel expenses they probably won’t be offered.

We think everyone should ask for expenses – even £4.60 return tube fares into central London. Bloggers don’t have expense accounts and only a minority will be selling the story as a freelance piece.

If the event is happening close to home it is easy to think it’s not worth asking the brand to pay for travel. But bloggers further afield might not be able to go unless  brands do fund travel costs. There’s plenty of precedent for brands paying in the region of £100 to cover travel costs getting to blog events. If everyone asks for expenses, it helps make the case for bloggers who might not otherwise afford to go.

If the PR replies there’s no budget,  it’s up to you whether to go. If you decline because of prohibitive travel costs tell them this (maybe with a link to this post even), and ask the PR to feed this information back to their client for next time. Of course the event might be worth going to just for the opportunity to network or if there’s a skill based training session on offer.

If they can pay travel expenses then fantastic!  Check how you will be paid  (cash on the day is useful and means you do not have to mess around with invoices and posting tickets off afterwards). Remember to disclose your travel expenses were paid when writing the post up (this also helps make the case to other brands that they should offer to pay travel expenses).

Do you ask for travel expenses to attend  blogging events? How often do they get paid? Who gets it right and pays them?

Note: Blogger School is not about knocking PRs, we know that both PRs and bloggers can gain a huge amount from working together and we want these relationships to grow and develop. We point out these issues in the hope that they will help build stronger ties between bloggers, PRs and brands.

Photo Flickr / Paul Stainthorp

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