Note from Dubai: press trip can be an effective PR tool

In mid-February, “The Little Prince” theatrical show was performed for five days at the Erkel Theatre in Budapest. The production incorporated dance, acrobatics, and the relatively unknown videomapping technology to bring to life the protagonist of the 81-year-old novel and convey the eternal wisdom that we as children didn’t fully grasp but marvel at as adults. This show had previously played to full houses in numerous major cities worldwide before coming to Hungary from Dubai, where it was on display in January.
Do you think it was worth sending journalists to Dubai for watching the show before the Hungarian premiere? Did their reviews lead to an increase in ticket sales? I’ll be honest, I can only speculate on the latter, but it’s a fact that articles written by journalists who participated in the press trip reached a much wider audience than what we achieved with press releases alone.

These days, we can not only determine how much we should have paid for a feature if we had purchased PR or native articles, but various software tools can also show us, with just a few clicks, the reach generated by a campaign. I must admit we were a little bit skeptical about whether it was worth sending seven journalists plus a PR representative to Dubai for several days to watch the show at the local opera house before it arrived in Hungary, or if it would have been simpler to just buy advertising space alongside the free PR campaign.

Certainly, it would have been simpler, but beyond the wonderful experience—or perhaps because of it?—excellent endorsements were made, and we became the wiser, because:

The numbers speak for themselves: it is worth it.

7 articles stand against 54 earned media clippings (let’s admit, the latter is also quite a remarkable result). However, when we compare the 7 pieces based on firsthand experience with the 54 articles and accompanying social media shares, all based on our press release and backgrounder, we see that the articles written by our Dubai group of journalists:

• generated nearly twice as many views,
• reached almost one and a half times more audience, and
• achieved engagement over three times as high.

Nice numbers, right? And speaking of numbers: if we add up the total cost of the press trip, we’re approximately at the same level as if we had purchased PR or native articles on all 7 media platforms.
And that’s just the icing on the cake, as most of the 7 shows were played to full houses at the Erkel Theatre in Budapest.
However, it should be noted that if the product itself (in this case, the show) doesn’t appeal to the journalists, they won’t write praising words, and then the press trip likely won’t pay off.