PR Fish Bowl

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Tuesday Tips: PR Trends and Tips from a Travel PR Pro

playaTravel and tourism PR might seem easier than, say, b2b tech public relations, because travel is considered sexy. Throw in a unique event or a celebrity appearance, and you’ve got yourself a campaign, right?

Not so fast. Just like any other consumer PR campaign, the goal of a tourism program is to reach the brand’s target audience in a meaningful way.  Yet, destinations and hospitality companies don’t always have big news to announce. Scoring coverage isn’t necessarily a day at the beach!

Amid the glamor of travel PR, it’s important that you remain true to the brand’s core mission and goals, while constantly generating fresh news.  What’s the point of throwing the party of the century if the guests are irrelevant to your client? Below are a few tips for developing five-star campaigns.

Sip, don’t drink, the Kool-Aid.  It goes without saying that you love your clients and support their initiatives; however, it’s your job to be realistic – and honest – about what is likely to garner coverage.  For example, a new destination initiative won’t always pass the “is it news?” test.  Be mindful of current PR trends and competitive moves, and use these hooks to make your pitch topical and relevant. For example, a dark chocolate turn-down amenity won’t warrant national publicity. Yet, sharing evidence that dark chocolate helps induce sleep, paired with data showing that travelers are often sleep-deprived may strengthen the pitch. A stronger pitch gives the editor a reason to share the information with readers, with credit to the destination.

Look beyond traditional travel press. A new burlesque show wouldn’t fly with family or eco-travel columnists, but LGBT travel writers would bite! With personalization being an important tourism industry trend, the opportunities to reach lifestyle and vertical-geared travel media have greatly multiplied. Think beyond tourism and dining to include healthy, beauty, parenting, and even pets.

Borrow interest. The most strategic campaigns are buzzworthy and relevant. For example, since our client Atlantic City has a target audience of “fun seekers” in the tri-state area, a viewing party for an episode of ABC’s “The Bachelorette” that was taped in AC made strategic sense.  Hosted at a hot downtown night spot, the party was on trend and on target, drawing 20-30 year olds open to “doing AC.”

Use your currency. Don’t be afraid to take advantage of breaking news; it can reap rich rewards.  The Belize Tourism Board recently turned a negative reference on the popular series “Breaking Bad” into a PR-able opportunity when it responded to an on-air mention by offering the show’s cast and director an invitation to the destination.  The result?  An overwhelming response on Twitter, national coverage, and PR success.

In short, many of the consumer PR fundamentals are the same when implementing a successful travel PR campaign, you just may need to go the extra distance!

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