WHAT ATHENS IN GREECE… STAYS IN GREECE
When I was asked to accompany a group of British journalists on a press trip to Athens, more specifically to the official reveal ceremony of Aegean Airlines’ brand new A320neo aircraft, my immediate thought was HELL YES.
Initially my mind raced to strolling along the Greek coastline, basking in the Mediterranean sun and tucking into a mouth-watering array of gyros, moussaka and halloumi.
I immediately encountered two problems; firstly, I had a week in which to secure six journalists who would like to join me on such a trip, and secondly, I discovered that halloumi is actually from Cyprus. Damn.
The main reason behind the trip was the official reveal ceremony of Aegean’s new aircraft; the Airbus A320neo which features less CO2 emissions, less noise pollution, higher passenger numbers and a sleek and sophisticated interior cabin.
This new aircraft was the first of a minimum of 46 new passenger jets ordered by Aegean to be received in the next few years and this investment marked the biggest private sector investment in Greece. Basically, a bloody big deal.
The ceremony itself featured a spectacular curtain reveal of the new aeroplane which was dramatically lit up in front of an audience of roughly 700, including Aegean employees, shareholders, media and even the Greek Prime Minister. It really was a thrilling event that generated plenty of ‘oohs’ and ‘ahs’.
The press trip also allowed time for journalists to visit the spectacular Acropolis, the historical pinnacle of the city, alongside experiencing the famous Greek hospitality both in-country and in-flight.
So off we went! Despite the looming presence of Storm Ciara the day of travelling, we boarded the plane and enjoyed a relatively turbulence-free journey to the Greek capital, arriving just in time for a beautiful sunset that disappeared into the Aegean.
The trip itself was a wonderful mix of peaceful strolls through the ancient grounds of the Acropolis, astonishing amounts of delicious Greek food and unnerving moments of extreme stress. But that’s normal, right?
The stressful moments were in fact caused by my own inner perfectionist, needing to know every logistical detail of the trip before I could sleep at night. Although being organised is a key characteristic required for a career in PR, I quickly learnt that sometimes, you just need to adopt the laid-back Greek attitude, and chill…
This leads me to my top five learnings for anyone else leading a press trip in the future:
- Be prepared
Organisation is life. And if you’re not organised you’re only going to kick yourself later. Print out boarding passes, hotel details, transfer confirmations and press releases even if you don’t need them to be printed. You’ll immediately feel calm in the knowledge that your precious folder of useful documents is safely tucked into your bag.
- Don’t overthink
Although slightly contradictory to my first point, being prepared for a realistic problem is one thing, but overthinking every possible eventuality to the point of no return is only going to panic you and make for a stressful trip.
- Consider your outfits
I’m a big believer that what you wear affects your mood, and this will ultimately affect the impression you are making on other people. Dressing smartly personally makes me feel more professional which, in turn, makes me come across confident and smart. At the same time – consider your surroundings. Climbing the Acropolis in 20-degree heat is certainly not the time for a pantsuit so be mindful that there will be times that trainers and a t-shirt are more than okay.
Even though you may be a little apprehensive about being in a different country with strangers, a little smile goes a long way. This will lead to friendly conversations with journalists, clients or even strangers on the plane which will make you far more relaxed. Maybe even think about a few conversation starters in advance so you can pull one out of your sleeve if needed.
You’re in a different country, experiencing new cultures and meeting an array of exciting people with lots of interesting things to say! Yes, there will be stressful moments, but you have been trusted with a fantastic opportunity, so you might as well enjoy it! Have a wine… it definitely helps 😉
This year at Brazen we have been challenged to a year of Derring-Do, highlighting that we achieve more when we push ourselves out of our comfort zones. And wow, did I do that.
If my comfort zone was my office chair in Manchester, then I somehow ended up in a subtropical forest in New Zealand because it certainly wasn’t in sight.
The trip to Athens has built my confidence more than I could have imagined. I developed new relationships with a mixture of national, consumer and trade journalists, I successfully led the trip proving my organisational flair, and I learnt so much in the process.
Athens… I’ll be back!
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