Melissa Lucas, senior account executive at Pic PR shares her advice on running your own PR activity
First consider what image you want to be reflecting to the public. Your PR campaign should be in line with your marketing plan and should always be supporting each other. If you are trying to market to the public that you are a small, luxury, boutique hotel – all of your PR collateral should be highlighting the exact same thing.
When running your own PR operations, start with the basics. Put together a hit list of publications; find out what your guests are reading and what you want to be included in.
Once you have put your list together, ensure you have the correct contact details of journalists from those publications. Email them, introduce yourself and your hotel and explain that you will be sending them necessary news and are available for any comments or features that they may be working on.
While press releases are what everyone associates PR with, there’s so much more to it. If you don’t have news to be shouting about, still put your hotel out there. Come up with relevant feature article angles that publications might be interested in. For example if you want to be known as a family friendly hotel, suggest a feature to family press on: ‘top ten things to do while on holiday with the family’.
Position your hotel as the expert. Editorial coverage is far more powerful than any advert.
You also need to be hot on social media. If you aren’t on Twitter – get on it now! Social media is a massive element to your PR programme because it allows you to interact directly with potential customers. Make sure that you create conversation with followers and always give them something interesting to read – don’t be constantly shouting about yourself.
When it comes to PR, always think back to what your potential customer would want to read – never forget your audience.
Understand what the press want! Journalists are busy people – not only do they have to adhere to strict deadlines but they have to sift through hundreds of emails and figure out what will be relevant to their readers.
Before trying to get exposure, take a step back and really think about what your potential guests want to hear about.
Don’t contact anyone unless you have interesting news (or a really great opportunity). A new range of shampoos in your hotel or a new chicken recipe will not be news worthy enough. Its news worthy to you but the rest of the world? Probably not.
A new restaurant or expansion? Definitely, the types of stories that always get covered are new appointments, future plans etc.
To also get exposure, make yourself available as a source. If press need a comment on a feature they are working on, give it to them that day. They could speak to hundreds of people but have picked you. Take advantage of that and give them what they need.
Gain an advantage over the chains
Boutiques have a huge advantage that they don’t play on enough – they are one a kind.
There are few boutique hotels that really use PR and marketing to get their names out there and highlight that just because they aren’t a chain doesn’t mean that they are any less worthy. There is no other hotel in the world like yours – promote that!
In terms of PR, boutiques should be speaking to press about things that they do differently. For example, in a boutique hotel you might have a different way of checking guests in or a completely unique interior style, whatever it is – talk to press about it!
Captivating an online audience
Whenever you get an article online, try to get a link back to your website. This isn’t always possible but when it is – get it! This is massively important for your SEO.
Your Twitter and Facebook pages are a huge piece to the PR puzzle. You are reflecting your brand, it’s self-promotion. Your social media needs to include relevant news, offers, personality and interesting articles. This is another opportunity to place yourself as the expert.
One thing you mustn’t do is connect Facebook and Twitter – treat them as separate PR platforms. You should be engaging with potential guests, having conversations and asking questions. You also need to be giving advice, top tips and thoughts on industry insight.
Be personalised and make guests feel welcome so, when somebody comes to stay, get their Twitter account name and welcome them to the hotel. Little things go a long way and other potential guests and followers can see this.
Don’t be constantly shouting about yourself – if you have an offer then definitely shout about it, but don’t let your Twitter or Facebook page just be about the hotel. Link to interesting articles, coverage, pictures, videos – create a personality that reflects your hotel.
ALWAYS remember your target audience. When writing a feature or press release, think back to why you have a PR programme in place to begin with. Getting new business and guests is the main aim so think what they would be interested in.
Secondly, have patience. Hotels always seem to panic when speaking to press, but you just need to remember that they are not trying to catch you out. Journalists are just like you and most of the time, they want to hear about your news or exciting plans. When you have been chasing a journalist for weeks, take a breath and re-approach them in a different way. Being patient really pays off.