I am responsible for the Interreg project „Heart of Europa“ at Compass. I organized two international group press trips for this project. ‘International’ has, in this case, two meanings:
- The journalists came from 3 different countries.
- We visited 4 regions in 3 different countries during our press trip.
Does this work? Of course, it does. Nevertheless, you should take care of some issues already in advance of the press trip.
Journalists from Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands took part in our press trips to the “Heart of Europe”. This means: a mixture of the languages German, Dutch and French was spoken during the whole trip. And sometimes also English.
It is important that the person accompanying the press trip, speaks all of the languages of the journalists to make sure that they get a competent support. I really enjoyed switching form one language to the other.
It is not good just to speak the different languages in contact with the journalists, but also in contact with the locals. Of course, at least one person responsible of the tourism organization of the visited region attended our visit. But some things still had to get clarified. Because speaking the same language makes everything very easy.
The both press trips lead us through all of the four partner regions of “Heart of Europa”: the Dutch South-Limbourg, the Belgian provinces Limbourg and Liège and the German region Aachen-Düren-Heinsberg. We received information from members of staff of the visited attractions and restaurants. Absolutely perfect: the Grottes de Remouchamps in the province of Liège. The guide there spoke all of the languages. He started his tour in English, but could also give information or answer individual questions in German, Dutch or French.
What to do, if there is no member of staff speaking all languages of the group? What about splitting the group, based on the language? It is absolutely recommendable to make the group smaller for some visits. In our case, the city trip including a tasting of Jenever at Wissels in Hasselt took place in three groups: one in German, one in Dutch and one in French. Ideal!
Alternatively, switching to English always works. This would also reduce time and staff. But remember for this, that information in another language are less targeted. That means, it really is only an alternative.
The following is definitely no alternative: a guidance just in the language of the visited country. You just can’t expect that someone from Wallonia understands German or that a German journalist understands Dutch.
No matter in which language or form the information is given: the journalists have to receive the press information in their own language at the end. A Dutch journalist doesn’t need a French brochure and a journalist form Wallonia no German information flyer.
Because of this reason, we didn’t give the journalists a large information package at each attraction. Many of the information actually is also not available in every language. Additionally: visiting four regions in three days would also mean a lot of paper. Instead of this we used an USB-stick. There we saved pictures and press information of every visited region and attraction, of course in German, Dutch and French.
Are you organizing presstrips for a group of journalists from different nationalities? Then take care that every part of the trip – from the communication before, via the accompanying during the trip and also the communication afterwards – is kept in the language of the journalist.