MAKE TONGUES WAG
ANOUSCHKA MENZIES OF BACCHUS PR BREAKS DOWN THE TRICKY WORLD OF PUBLIC RELATIONS
TRADITIONAL PR STILL COUNTS
Although today’s world of communications is very fast moving, features and mentions of your brand in respected print publications (all of which have online versions) are still the most effective way of building brand credibility. Publications such as Condé Nast Traveler and Departures are the travel bibles and are still relevant, as they are known to filter the myriad of offerings available without being overly incentivised by advertising.
When a consumer Googles a property, they will of course check TripAdvisor posts; however, an endorsement in a recognised publication will give the consumer the confidence to book. Through the media you can communicate several key messages about your property, whilst social media will only be able to focus on a small element of the hotel. A post on social media can also potentially be lost as quickly as it appears due to the speed at which people post. The biggest difference between social media and traditional PR is that traditional articles are written by an impartial, qualified third party and are therefore seen as the ultimate brand endorsement.
SMALL BUDGET, BIG RESULTS
Need to do a lot with a little? Evaluate the most interesting things to do and see in your area and partner with local companies so they can support you and gain publicity. For example, make friends with local airlines or rail networks. They want PR too so partner with them, as your single biggest cost will be covering the media’s travel to your property. Ensure the journalist agrees in writing to credit their travel provider, prior to agreeing to host them.
Additionally, speak to your food and drink suppliers and ask them to support the trip with complimentary product – if they are based locally, perhaps host a masterclass at a local vineyard or farm. Alternatively and if relevant, ask your cosmetics or spa supplier to also host a masterclass. Keep masterclasses short and interactive to ensure media engagement.
CHOOSE THE RIGHT MEDIA AND APPROACH
Evaluate your target publications and have an A-list and a B-list. Choose one long-lead, mid-lead, short-lead (including newspaper supplements) and online title. Prior to approaching media, define five strong story angles so that each journalist has a different story to pursue and they do not feel in competition with one another. Understand that if you give the same angle to multiple journalists, you will end up losing articles, as a savvy editor will spot a piece similar to theirs and pull it.
A helpful breakdown of potential angles could be food, design, a local area guide or link with a cultural happening. Make sure you time the cultural happening with when the piece might run. Although a story solely about your property will always be what you prefer, remember that people who book your hotel are keen to understand its surroundings and what there is to do and see in the area, so a city or area guide including a smaller piece on your hotel can generate just as many bookings as a single brand piece.
Research the journalists you wish to approach and ensure they still work for the publication. Prior to inviting media, check their social media channels and previous pieces they have written so you can understand what appeals to them and tailor your pitch to resonate with their passions. When you approach media be respectful; create an engaging email title, be concise (long emails are never read) and refer to a piece they have written that inspired you to invite them to visit your property. Never use a generic email – journalists know each other, often compare approaches and want to be treated as individuals.
Additionally, a great way to really get the most out of a press trip is to invite media who write for different territories, thereby avoiding conflict of story angles. Always request an email once you have established a journalist is keen to attend the trip. Be sure to confirm that the journalist has been commissioned for a piece, stating the publication, when it is slated to run and estimated word count.
BE A HOST WITH THE MOST
Plan the itinerary with the journalists you have invited; check if there is anything they are keen to do and tailor the trip as much as possible to their requirements in order to generate the best coverage. Do not make their trip itinerary too full or get them up too early – if they are tired, they will become grumpy and it will affect the piece they write. Allow for certain activities on the itinerary to be optional, as media often have to complete other work on a trip. If needed, leave a morning free for them to research their particular story angle further. Have a couple of hosts from your organisation manage the media (ideally one host per every three journalists).
When media arrive, have a bespoke itinerary in their rooms (detailing social media handles and any dedicated hashtags) and a gift from the local area that you know they will appreciate. For example, if they regularly Instagram flowers, place their favourite flowers in their room. Ensure when you are dining that you do not have restrictive seating plans, but have one up your sleeve if needed. Check for food allergies.
Always check in and ensure that they are getting what they require to write their article. Create meaningful relationships with the media by finding common ground. Do not be too pushy about your property. They are intelligent and will ask questions when they need information. Finally, stay in touch post-trip and they will support you in the future.
Anouschka Menzies is the founder of Bacchus PR and over the past two decades has grown the PR division to include 30 multinationals. An expert strategist, Anouschka is also a consultant for UK and international hospitality-driven brands, advising on brand rollouts and sales.