Member Articles

Reviews, A Great Way To Build Your Portfolio

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Many of our members have seen and read the many reviews that are published on our web site. If you haven’t visited our Reviews section, please take a moment now to do so. I have written most of these reviews as part of my job as editor of our web publication, but we are now seeing some very nice reviews come in from our independent staff members.

We now see a much more diverse collection of reviews, which is a good thing, after all – how many can I physically
write myself? Writing them is also an important part of our members’ learning experiences because they will want to write their own reviews on a number of subjects they are interested in – including but not limited to:

  • Travel destinations, resorts, hotels and cruises
  • Restaurants, food products and services
  • Trade, consumer shows and events
  • Concerts, music festivals, broadway shows and museum or other exhibits
  • Equipment, including photographic, computer hardware, software and other items of interest to our readers

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Reviews Are Not Only Written By Staff…

Reviews are also written by our members and the subject of these reviews continue to expand as our members and staff add new content to our site each day. Our reviews are important for our web site publication and attract readership from a vast number of interested readers and IPA members. Reviews also help generate search engine traffic to our site as people search for the subject matter or key words that appear in our reviews. Reviews on the IPA web site, in general, are an important part of our web publication’s content.

Carnival Liberty

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I love to write travel reviews; they are some of the most enjoyable to read and easier for most of our members to write. I suppose it is because a member simply has to write about their vacation and upload the photos or videos they shot while on that vacation. I personally tend to write about all of my trips, whether on a real assignment or simply because it makes interesting copy.

You can even read a review I did when my son married in Montego Bay, Jamaica. I shot photos and video and produced two very nice videos: one a slide show, and the other (which runs a full 30+ minutes) a more comprehensive view of the entire trip including the wedding ceremony.

Writing These Articles Serves A Number Of Purposes…

First, writing reviews enables me to contact a resort or cruise line and request permission to write the review and meet with the hotel manager for a tour of the facility or ship. This also means I usually get VIP treatment and, in many cases, a very nice upgrade on my hotel room or ships cabin. I now have the ability to get better photos, because I am in a better suite or cabin for the review. On a ship or resort, the personal tour they give me offers me the opportunity to shoot images of parts of the ship or resort that I would never get to see on my own. See the review and video I did recently on the beautiful Navigator of the Seas, one of RCL’s luxury liners.

Needless to say, some resorts will even offer discounts or a couple of free nights stay when they see our web site and the many reviews written. You can use our reviews to help you gain that access and benefits too, but make sure you have a few of your own reviews in your portfolio, because the resort may want to see the quality of your work as well.

See the review I did on Dreams in Punta Cana and look at the video here.  As you will see, I shot the images in my upgraded suite.  You can imagine how that added to the value of the review for both the resort and, of course, for me and my wife.

I hone my writing skills this way, learn to shoot better images, learn to edit my images and create the little slide shows and videos (which I upload to YouTube or another video sharing site) and produce a great review that helps me gain the access I want for my next project.

You Can Share Your Experiences…

So I have an opportunity to share my experiences with others while I continue to build my writing skills. Now I want you to all understand, that anyone with some decent photographic or writing skills can do as I and other members are doing – so do write these reviews for our site. They don’t have to be as extensive as the ones I publish on our site and they don’t have to include slide shows or videos, but they do have to be grammatically correct with no spelling errors and of course have interesting content.

You should only spend your time writing reviews that are positive. I won’t spend the many hours writing a reviews and working on the images and video files if it was going to be a negative review. At IPA we only want to write reviews on products and services we want to recommend to our readers. It can take two full days to produce a good review at IPA so why write a review that won’t help me gain the access I want for future reviews or help me develop a rapport with those that were kind enough to grant me the access I needed.

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As soon as I publish my reviews, I email my public relations or company contact at the resort, cruise, trade show and give them the link to my article. I am sure when you write your reviews, if you did a good job, you will receive a thank you email from them. You can be sure they will be grateful they granted you the access and any benefits they gave you, today every company can use good press. You have now created a new contact for your future requests and to vouch for you should you need it for other assignments. Feel free to use one of our Featured Product and Service logos available in our Banners section of our site.

One of our Featured Logos

It is a win-win situation; one that helps you by building your confidence, photographic and writing skills, a better portfolio on our site. It also gives you more credibility and makes you better at what you want to achieve as a member of IPA. For those you write about, it gives them free positive publicity on the internet and as we already know, a simple google search can find your article in a heart beat, as they can find a negative comment too. Remember, IPA does not ask them to advertise on our site, we do not ask these companies for any financial support and in many cases they are simply allowing you to work for them without paying you. Some of the videos I have done and uploaded to YouTube receive many thousands of views.

Look at this one for the Iberostar Bavaro in Punta Cana. We did a simple site tour of this hotel and their adjoining hotel the Iberostar Grand. The video slide show of the Bavaro has received over 15,000 views on YouTube and thousands of views on our web site. All they had to do was give us a two hour tour of their two properties and received over 10 hours of my time in producing the video. The rep at the hotel confided that they didn’t have any videos or decent photos yet and our article and video would be a great place to send their future guest to see the properties. The cost to the hotel was a simple courtesy tour of their property.

So we must understand that a discount on a hotel room or an upgrade means nothing to these hotels or resorts. An empty room has no value to them at all, so to fill it with a journalist or photographer who will give them positive coverage is truly a win for them too.

We want to continue to encourage all of our members to write these reviews, because they become a critical component to your IPA portfolio and they are easier to write since you know what the subject of your article is going to be before you start writing.

When looking to gain important media access, those people in the PR departments of the resort, cruise line, restaurant or venue want to see who you are, your skill level and where your reviews are published. If you can’t supply samples of your work, a PR Rep will usually refuse any access and not grant any special media perks. Publishing reviews on your profile is one way to supply visible samples to PR Reps.

IPA will consider publishing select member reviews in our main Reviews section or will create a new section for our Showcase Member Reviews, similar to our current Photo Showcase and  Featured Articles sections of our site. We might consider starting a new category on our blog for these reviews as well, so watch for future announcements.

Some Quick Tips…

When you upload your article or review, read the ones currently in our Reviews section and let them be a guide only. Depending on your style of writing and your photographic talent, yours might look different, but that might be good too. Each one of us has a different style and if you pick up a newspaper or magazine, each writer there also has a different style. We want to encourage your individuality. Viewing my reviews or other member reviews should simply be a starting point.

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All reviews published on our site should be accompanied by quality photos. If you take them yourself even better, but you can supplement your photos with others that might be available on their web site. Many photos can be obtained and used with permission from the companies you write about and some are available on their web site under their Press Room or Media links. Ask their permission to use their photos or copy, give them a photo credit and you are usually good to go. We encourage our members to use their own original work, but it is fine to fill in if need be. We do this often on our product and show reviews and find it is easier to grab an image from a companies web site, or take a screen shot which we often do so we can show their products the way they want them shown. Companies hire the best photographers to take these product shots and make them available in their press kits for publication. At every trade show you cover, you will find CD’s full of their stock photos for publication.

As far as the accuracy of your content, go to the companies web sites where you can find all the facts about their products and services you may need for for additional information and ideas, there is nothing better then the internet and a few choice Google searches to give you the facts and information you either didn’t know or forgot.

New Programs & Features Coming Soon…

There are many exciting programs and features planned at IPA and our blog will be the place to visit. Here you will be able to read many how-to articles which we hope will give you the knowledge, direction and confidence to not only produce great articles, photographs and profile, but will encourage you to look for other career or work opportunities too.

Please read other posts in our blog and Member Forum where you will find tips on how to gain media access or how to review products for our site and join us in a new and exciting IPA.

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