How Press Trips Can Be More Inclusive & Accommodating

Freelance writer Shayna Conde speaks to RHC about her experience navigating press trips with an autoimmune disorder and shares her top tips for planning trips that are inclusive and accommodating.

As a part of RHC’s initiative to promote diversity and inclusion in public relations, we sat down with Shayna Conde, a freelance writer specializing in culinary, spirits, and travel. In this candid and informative discussion, Shayna shared her insights on practical steps to take to create accessible press trips as well as in-person experiences that are accessible to everyone, not just marginalized communities. 

While describing herself and the stories she gravitates towards the most, Shayna shares that she is a Black woman of indigenous ancestry, navigating through the spaces of food, beverage, and travel with a chronic illness affecting her mobility. Her recent stories center on this topic and appear in publications such as Food & Wine, Viator, and Business Insider. When she created her YouTube channel, Heart to Arts, in 2021, it was to share a collection of stories touching on wellness, diversity, and inclusion from a holistic perspective. Although she is grateful for the continued interest in her encounters on other media outlets, Shayna believes her ability to recount them as a Black woman is best shared comprehensively.

Like many other writers who seek to uncover stories about people, places, and events, attending a press trip is considered helpful and valuable to Shayna. When executed perfectly, press trips serve as a great connector, allowing journalists to share a more personal narrative with their readers. Shayna has traveled extensively and has lived in the United States, Mexico, and Spain. This has given her a unique perspective and enabled her to advocate for other writers’ needs during press trips.

Here are a few doable steps she outlined for cultivating accessible spaces and happenings:  

  • Think about how to put incentives into practice: the advertising of accessible spaces should demonstrate that the guest experience is the focus and the space itself will contribute greatly to the person’s overall experience.  
  • Practice Mindfulness of Environment: before reaching out to the media, consider if there will be any limitations they may face while being in space. When the media report their experiences, the chances of them sharing their stories with people of a similar demographic are great. Ensure the destination is pleasant for them to be in and report on with confidence. 
  • Create the space: While press trips happen in professional settings, the people involved are very human. Kindly practice humility and respect in the trip’s planning phase by opening the floor for the journalists to express their specific needs before arriving. Ask things like “what are your dietary preferences?,” and “Which times in the day do you prioritize for rest?” in the planning phase. 
  • Fit in the leisure time: Create space in the schedule for journalists to explore independently or rest. This creative recharge helps create unique and authentic observations tied to the experience.  
  • Re-think the definition of accessibility: In Shayna’s words, “accessibility can be for everybody,” designing and building amenities specifically for people who may need the accommodations physically is a step, but keeping those same accommodations open for others to use if they may need the assistance at the time is just as helpful. Approach these spaces from a high-level perspective by asking the question: “What is needed in this space for everyone to feel supported?,”e.g. reserving a ground-floor room for the media attendee’s stay.

To learn more about Shayna and her adventures, visit her newsletter and YouTube channel Heart to Arts, found here, and follow on social media @shaynarc.