If your hotel’s marketing budget has been slashed at the same time you are expected to increase revenue, take a look at how cost-effective public relations strategies can jump-start your marketing in the New Year.
The winning formula: Get creative with consistent PR campaigns, integrate PR with your other marketing and e-commerce programs and track your successes. Due to the power of the web, publicity is more valuable than ever. Intriguing print and online articles drive customers to your website, and online articles also improve your property’s ranking in Internet search engines used by travel planners and frequent travelers.
The first item on your agenda is to create a PR calendar for the year. Identify possible campaign themes such as: renovations, new amenities and technology perks, holiday events, tie-ins to festivals and events in your area, meeting planner programs, special packages and news about your restaurant. This should be a working document that you update as new opportunities arise.
The next step is to obtain editorial calendars for the most important publications read by your customers. These can usually be found on the advertising areas of publications’ websites. Pinpoint special sections that would be a good fit for your property. Make a note to send specific media pitches for these issues. Be aware that many publications have a deadline that is three or more months before each issue’s publication date.
Your PR firm or internal marketing manager should keep a database of all reporters and editors that cover your industry and area. Be sure to update it after each campaign, removing bad e-mail addresses and adding new contacts.
Next, contact your convention and visitors bureau to see how you can partner with their efforts to promote your property. Many convention and visitors bureau organise familiarisation and press tours in which you can participate. Offer to host visiting reporters at your hotel.
Top PR tips
• Find out how reporters like to receive news releases and story ideas. Most prefer e-mail. To maximize the pick-up rate for your news releases, include a link to a section of your website that shows great photos of your property. Never add an attachment, as these may cause your e-mails to get caught in spam.
• Editors appreciate excellent photos that complement your news releases and pitches. Good art helps them visualize your story. Invest in good photography and increase the likelihood that your hotel will be covered. This is especially important in this economy, since publications’ art budgets may be constrained.
• Does your website include a news section? If not, create a section with news releases, background information and articles about your property. If possible, include low- and high-resolution photos that can be downloaded by the media for use in stories.
• When you issue a news release about a special package such as a Spa Escape, make sure it is featured prominently on your website. This will help your property’s ranking in search engines when travelers search for specific amenities.
• Before you start promoting your stories to reporters and editors, contact them and offer to be a news source for interpreting industry trends. The travel landscape is constantly changing, and they are eager to learn about the latest developments. They will appreciate your help—and will show their gratitude to you later. All journalists need reliable sources.
• Offer advice columns on topics such as successful meeting planning and travel management tips. You can develop relationships by fostering a better understanding of your property and service profile. In doing so, you will establish your leadership in your industry. Create a news release or article and send it to a well-researched media list of publications read by your customers and prospects.
• When news breaks in your area of expertise, sound off. You can write a letter to the editor or make a comment in reaction to a newspaper or magazine article, comment on a blog or call a local broadcast producer. Again—demonstrate your expertise.
Ellen Eason is a partner of Eason Communications LLC, a US-based public relations and marketing agency that provides PR and marketing services for hospitality clients. For more information visit www.easoncom.com
Republished with the kind permission of our sister publication Hotel & Motel Management