Be a Pro, Not a Pain

In this column, Madeleine explains some of the ins and outs of arranging press trips in the Netherlands. In addition, she offers some excellent suggestions on how to handle yourself on a press trip and how to enhance your online profile. Her years working as a travel journalist in that country has resulted in some important insights into this unique market. a Pro, Not a Pain

By Madeleine van de Wouw (Netherlands) …

In the Netherlands it’s almost impossible to be on a press trip without being screened beforehand. You have to be a professional writer, either for a magazine, a journal or online. Before you can expect to get a “yes,” you have to provide proof that you actually can publish. This should include the number of articles you expect to result from the trip and when they will appear in the publication.

In short. You have to be a pro. So when on a press trip with Dutch journalist you can be sure they are just that. However, that does not particularly mean that they behave like pro’s.

Unfortunately there are journalists/travel writers who behave like they are the ‘Queen of Sheba’ or the ‘King of the Jungle.’ They know the program in advance, but manage to complain about it. I actually was on a trip with a group in which we found in our midst, a real diva. She did not want to participate in a short hike (that was not ‘her cup of tea’). She was also afraid of heights and, in the program, there was a climb up a tower. She refused to get out of the bus when we went to pick mushrooms in the woods, even though it was in the program and she knew about it in advance.
To be short: we all wondered why for goodness sake she participated on the trip. She didn’t even take pictures . It was really awkward for everyone that she just could not be pleased, no matter what. In the end, her attitude made everyone both irritated and uncomfortable.

When we asked her why she was show such an attitude, she just shook her head and said, “because I was sent” (by my office). So yes, she was a pro. But she was also a big pain in the ass. Unfortunately there is no screening for that.

Another way to up your chances of being invited to attend a press or media trip is to present a good online profile. Anyone wanting to know about you and your credentials will always do an online search. The result of that search are normally the basis for deciding if you are invited or not to attend a press event.

Tips for a good online profile

Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn … almost everyone has an online profile of some type. The question is whether that profile will help or hurt you. The simple truth is that you almost not function as a journalist – especially if you specialize in travel – without a good profile. This is especially true when you are a freelancer, looking for assignments.
Your online identity, both private as your business, is a form of personal branding. So be aware of how you make yourself known and how you want to be seen.

How to put your business, and yourself, in the spotlight:

1. Provide a good website were visitors can see what your business is and what you can do for them. Your website certainly can be seen as an online business card.

2. Create a profile or page on networking sites like Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+. Make both a personal and a corporate Twitter page to bring your yourself and your company under the attention of people. But, be carefull with the posts you make. Don’t offend people or be rude. Don’t only make ‘push posts’ but make it interactive by reacting on other peoples posts. Share your knowledge! On a personal profile or personal page, you occasionally put business matters, and vice versa, as long as you provide a good mix.

3. Use a suitable photograph to a profile or a page. Especially for freelancers this is a bonus.

4. Join and follow people and groups you know and that are of interest to your company and your career

5. Take part every now and than in an online discussion. It will show that you care, that you are knowledgeable and that you are willing to share that knowledge.

6. Keep all the information online up-to-date!

7. Create a blog about interesting topics that are related to your business or work and make sure that people can give a reaction. This creates a buzz.

8. Google yourself regularly: type first and last name on If you find things that you are not happy with, ask the administrator of the website to remove the information.

Author Description


Madeleine van de Wouw’s activities as a professional travel writer include serving as the chief editor of a major Dutch travel magazine, correspondent for Campinglife magazine, ( and Columbus Travel ( She is also the founder and owner of several top touristic websites that include those focused on wellness, eco, culture and nature (, a touristic website about naturisme (, an informative touristic website ( and a site focusing on cruises ( She also served on the Board of Directors of the Travel Writers Manifest and served on the Board of Directors of TourPress Holland. As a book author, her credits include work on the book “Fireworks on the Brain” and a book on human relationships.