A Simple Guide to PR For Hotels
How Can PR Help Hotels
With the ultimate goal of putting “heads in beds,” public relations for hotels is more important now more than ever. COVID-19 has offered new challenges, especially as it relates to the hospitality industry. With COVID-19 postponing or completely cancelling travel plans, putting the spotlight on the hotel industry is crucial. Whether you are a large, corporately – owned property or a boutique hotel, it is key to share how you are keeping guests safe while they are choosing to stay with you with the objective to lay those heads in your beds!
What Do PR Agencies Do For Hotels
Having worked with hotels of all types, Bettie Bomb develops strategic messaging and plans tailored to their needs. PR is not a one size fits all approach, so it’s important to work with each property to create the formula that works best for them.
For example, a large corporately-owned property that includes multiple dining concepts, a long list of amenities, private event spaces and a spa will entail a completely different approach than a boutique hotel with 100 rooms and limited amenities. Also in the hotel industry, different seasons require different PR strategies and Bettie Bomb understands that flexibility and knowledge are key. In many cities, the summer months are the most organic for travel because of the climate, so during the winter months when it may be colder, hotels may need a bigger push to encourage travelers to visit.
Bettie Bomb also has travel and lifestyle media contacts locally, regionally, and nationally, and will work with you to bring these key journalists to experience all facets of your hotel, ultimately writing about them in their respective media outlets. We can target those drive-market outlets for stories about summer road trips as well, in-flight magazines for city spotlight stories and national travel outlets for unique amenity spotlights – to name a few!
Developing partnerships with local businesses is also important when developing hotel PR campaigns and Bettie Bomb has the connections and ability to facilitate these important conversations. From the city’s tourism bureau to key tourist attractions, these local businesses can be part of a press-worthy package offered to guests or discounted tickets to top clients.
Knowledge and experience in hotel PR crisis management is another important aspect of handling public relations for hotels. The Bettie Bomb team has dealt with many crisis situations at hotels of all types and in these circumstances timing is essential. The messaging needs to be crafted ASAP and we need to be onsite to fielding visits from reporters. Not a minute can be wasted in these situations and we will be readily available to properly handle the crisis.
Some hotel clients require short-term PR work for an opening or specific event and others require long-term PR work, wanting us to develop a comprehensive hotel PR strategy that is more like a marathon, not a fast race. When a hotel first opens, it’s easy. Media of course want to talk about things that are new, so naturally a new hotel in the city interests them! You get a big push from opening press in the beginning and the real work starts when the newness wears off. What are you going to do to garner long-term media interest? That’s our job.
OUR PR ONBOARDING PROCESS
When you start working with us, we want every client to understand the hotel PR process, roles, expectations and most importantly, have open & honest communication. We begin with a kick-off call or meeting, which is a deep dive into your business. We use this time to learn about your goals, objectives, struggles, successes and overall, what you are looking to achieve. What is your message? What are you trying to promote? What story are you telling? We help you determine what is newsworthy and the best approach to communicate your message.
All new clients walk away with a list of deliverables from brand assets to background information, while we get to work on creating a plan of action to best suit your needs. This process happens in the first week and jumpstarts our working relationship into the next step focused on developing a PR strategy for your hotel & creating a full-scaled plan of action.
For hotels specifically, we need all information – number of rooms, amenities, available packages if any, private event space, restaurant information and key staff, spa offerings, in-room dining and most importantly, photos! Visual elements are huge, so we need to compile all of your room shots and if you don’t have any, we need to schedule a photographer immediately to build your database. Lastly, but probably one of the most important steps, we would need to stay on property and experience all aspects so we can better understand your concept and most importantly, know your brand! This is of course the fun part for us and allows us to better promote your hotel.
The entire hotel PR onboarding process gives us the chance to deep dive into your hotel and understand everything as a whole. We use this time to compile all of the information, develop a strategy and send it to you for approval. This step is crucial as we need a foundation to set ourselves up for success. A launchpad that is organized, tactical and has the ability to change as many things do in this industry!
WHAT TO EXPECT
Hotels must know that working with a PR agency or publicist takes time. You need to invest the time and energy to send us the information we need in a timely fashion and keep us updated. No one knows your business better than you do, so we will be looking to you for the information or as we call it, ammunition to do our job effectively. When working with restaurants, one thing is certain…communication is key!
As for day-to-day, clients need to appoint one point person for all PR needs to make sure all information is received in a timely manner and media requests are efficiently facilitated. We like to chat with our clients every other week and request bi-weekly conference calls to keep up-to-date on all internal happenings, plus quarterly in-person meetings so we have face time. We provide all calls and meetings with an agenda, which includes an update on activity status such as all pitching efforts, events & marketing opportunities, pending and secured media, etc. We also send over a recap following each call or meeting with tasks for both us and the client.
We want to make sure all of our clients are in the know, so we are constantly communicating via email with updates, check-ins, etc.
As media runs, every media placement is immediately sent to the client via email, including link and media metrics. Media metrics are the calculated impressions, circulation and audience numbers for a TV or radio station, newspaper, magazine or online outlet. Every quarter we send media reports, which is a comprehensive list of all placements for the month along with the press clips.
When working with an agency who is reaching out to the media constantly on your behalf, please remember: if the media contacts you directly, you NEED to let us know ASAP. This happens often and we need to be kept in the loop as we’re actively pitching all media. Even if they receive a pitch from us, they will sometimes contact a client directly.
Overall, this is a close working relationship and the client has to have the time to devote to it. You truly get what you put in and if we don’t have the information we need to position your restaurant to the media, we won’t be successful.
HOW WE MEASURE SUCCESS
We use the goals set in place during onboarding, to develop how we measure your brand’s results and the overall impact of your campaign. For PR, we want to look at media metrics such as audience reach, impressions and print circulation, while for Social Media we focus on engagement, reach and conversions. At the end of each month, we send a full report including these measurements and earned media.
But, these are strictly numbers. The other side is word of mouth and overall buzz. Are people talking about your hotel organically on social media? Are people booking after seeing you on TV or reading about your hotel in the newspaper? Publicity doesn’t necessarily translate directly into sales which makes the measuring process tricky. It’s also not guaranteed.
PR is part of the overall marketing strategy, which can include:
- Social media
- Digital & Content
- Internal Promotions
- Strategic Partnerships
- Off-site events
All of these tactics and forms of marketing work together to create buzz, so the question of measurement is a difficult one. Businesses have to look at all forms of marketing as an investment and a gradual build over time. One promotion might be successful, another one not so much, but you have to be consistent and keep trying. It’s a marathon, not a race and keeping those media opportunities flowing will build your presence over time.