The public relations (PR) field may involve more than press releases and social media in the near future. With virtual reality (VR) gearing up for a mainstream audience, brands are already starting to see VR’s potential for producing creative and innovative PR campaigns.
Donna Davis, Director of the Strategic Communication Master’s Program at University of Oregon, is researching the positive psychological effects of VR.
“I think the public relations industry can’t ignore what’s happening in VR and AR (augmented reality),” said Davis. “We’re moving to an experience economy where audiences, especially younger audiences, are demanding ways to engage with brands.”
At this point, VR is only viable to certain brands with the right budget but that could be changing rapidly as the price of VR technology continues to fall. Before you go out and buy an Oculus Rift headset, let’s see which brands are using VR technology successfully to create an effective PR strategy.
Toms is a shoe company with a one-for-one business model; for every pair of shoes sold, Toms donates a pair to a child in need in over 70 countries. Toms created a VR experience to let viewers see what it is like to deliver shoes to a school in Peru. We learn about the story of nine-year-old, Julio, who walks several miles to school every day on a dirt road. We are immersed into this giving trip as we see 360 degrees of the dirt road, the school, Julio’s house and more.
Why it worked
Toms facilitated organic empathy. While other media such as writing, photography and videography can certainly convey empathy to stakeholders, there is no comparison to actually experiencing what it is like to bring barefoot school children new shoes. Toms created a new path for VR as a philanthropic tool for nonprofits and charitable for-profit companies. Consumers can experience where their purchase or donation is making a positive impact.
Marriott introduced VR as a game changer in the travel and hospitality sectors. Marriott representatives set up a VR experience outside of city hall in New York City to capture recently wed couples as they exited the courthouse, presumably to go on a honeymoon or to at least start planning one. Marriott created a VR experience allowing the brides and grooms to teleport from London to Hawaii while wearing a headset. The hotel company insinuated to the newlyweds that there is a Marriott wherever they choose to spend their honeymoon.
Why it worked
Virtual reality provides travelers the ability to experience a destination through a pair of goggles. It will be interesting to watch VR’s role in the travel industry as VR provides customers the ability to travel around the world without getting on a plane. Instead of choosing a hotel blindly, you can virtually step inside one and walk around. It is an experience given most justice in 360 degrees.
This upscale soft cheese company used VR to take viewers on a roller coaster ride through a well-stocked refrigerator. In the perspective of being just a few inches tall, the virtual roller coaster ride zooms past packages of Boursin cheese and fresh ingredients. Consumers begin to catch on to the idea that Boursin belongs in a healthy, well-stocked refrigerator. Towards the end, the interactive adventure weaves around champagne bottles, signifying the soft cheese company is an elite snack.
Why it worked
Boursin was one of the firsts to pioneer a VR experience within food and beverage. The novelty of the video earned Boursin a Masters of Marketing award for its creative approach to promoting a product you might not initially associate as a perfect candidate for VR content.
As strategic storytellers, it is our job to determine which media platforms will best tell the story of a particular client and produce the best results. While we may not be the ones coding a VR script, we may be the ones drawing up a storyboard or writing the copy for your brand’s VR experience. Virtual reality is proving to be a fruitful option for customer engagement and virality.
“Increasingly agencies are looking at ways to build interactive content in VR that places their clients’ brands in the center of the experience,” said Davis. “Ready or not, it’s coming!”
Have you considered a profession in the healthcare industry? Public relations is vital to promoting and improving the reputations of organizations in this sector. What makes healthcare unique is that it is constantly changing and evolving. Think you are ready for the challenge? Keep reading to learn more about this unique sector of public relations.
In a fast-paced industry such as healthcare, organizations need to have a voice in the marketplace. Healthcare is constantly evolving as new science and technology emerges, and it is important that organizations stand out. Healthcare companies can invest in a public relations partner, such as an agency, to create a communication strategy that positions the organization as an innovative leader while increasing demand. Healthcare providers may also have an in-house staff which manages communication between patients and the hospital itself.
Public relations practitioners in the healthcare field are responsible for managing many relationships ranging between the hospital, its clients, visitors and stakeholders. In-house practitioners may work in a variety of settings such as hospitals, nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities, health maintenance organizations (HMOs), psychiatric facilities and community health centers, according to the Health Careers Center. Those who work in an agency may take on a variety of clients who are in these fields. Practitioners in both fields act as guides for an organization and help in making important decisions regarding an organization’s communication strategy. Especially within the healthcare industry, there are many rules and regulations that constantly change and practitioners must communicate any changes with the client. They are also vital in providing recommendations and advice to the client.
Whether in house or at an agency, public relations professionals in the healthcare industry help tell the stories of groundbreaking research and new innovations to help put their clients name out. Healthcare providers create technology and medicines that can potentially improve quality of life all over the world. Healthcare public relations practitioners have many target audiences to remember, and must reach beyond communication between the organization and the client. Suppliers are very important because they must also have a desire to positively impact the health care system and wish to partner with your organization. Because of this, public relations employees in the healthcare industry must approach each target public differently.
Public relations is important in health care, where both patients and clients can feel vulnerable. As a practitioner in this sector, you will be working with your coworkers to ultimately develop communication to help your publics feel safe and as though their time and money are being used to better society overall. Think this is interesting? Check out healthcare agencies or providers in areas that you want to work and start networking!
By Talia Smith
On the same premises where Adele broke her award in half, where Beyoncé’s performance slayed and where Bruno Mars paid tribute to Prince, I was fortunate enough to be behind the scenes learning about the role of a publicist.
In my last blog post, I talked about the lead-up to working the 59th Annual Grammy Awards with Sugar Mountain PR (SMPR). Five of our clients at SMPR were nominated for Grammys in the children’s category. Now that it’s all over, I thought I’d talk about what it was like being there.
I arrived at the L.A. Convention Center around 11 a.m. on Sunday, Feb. 12. The children’s category was announced during the pre-telecast which airs online in the afternoon. I was told to meet our clients on the red carpet, which I realized was harder to find than I thought, despite it being bright red.
Security guards stood by the entrance checking the credentials hanging around my neck. I gained access to three more checkpoints until I reached the last one where I was directed into a narrow tunnel of black curtains. When I popped out on the other side, I saw the red carpet being vacuumed and a large sign that read “Welcome to the Grammy Awards.”
I breathed a sigh of relief because I knew I was in the right spot. I indulged in a few selfies as I waited for SMPR owner, Beth Blenz-Clucas; publicist, KC Mancebo, and our clients to arrive. KC, who also represents acts like Dave Grohl and Coldplay, offered to let me shadow her for the day, since my boss, Beth, had tickets to the actual Grammy show.
When the nominated musicians arrived, we waited in line until the red carpet media tent opened. Beth and KC told me about their plan to pitch the media inside. Our pitching points were 1) we have access to all of the nominees in the children’s category, 2) they’re all independent artists, and 3) they’re friends.
When the entrance to the media tent opened, the artists and their teams poured in. To my left, I saw a sleek backdrop with the Grammy logo stretching the entire length of the tent. To my right, I saw barricades stretching the entire other side of the tent with journalists, photographers and media people standing behind. Beth and KC divided and conquered as they pitched the different outlets, securing interviews with Pop Sugar and Grammy.com. I was responsible for rounding up the artists and bringing them to the correct interview locations.
After the artists wrapped up their interviews and completed their photographed walk down the red carpet, the parade led to the Microsoft Theater where the Grammy winners were to be announced. Beth accompanied her clients into the theater while KC brought me to the publicist lounge.
The lounge had a large TV surrounded by tables and chairs occupied by publicists with their laptops open. After each winner was announced, different publicists would jump out of their chairs cheering for their client, receiving claps from others in the room as if to say, Congratulations! We all know how hard you worked to make this happen.
When it came time for the children’s category to be announced, KC and I moved to the table directly in front of the TV, staring intensely. The name of each nominated children’s artist was read followed by, “…and the Grammy goes to Secret Agent 23 Skidoo.” The hip-hop children’s group won. We saw the band accept their award and give a speech. KC informed me that they would be coming up the escalator to the lounge soon.
We greeted and congratulated the band when they arrived, then brought them to their photography studio, where the classic Grammy photos with the gray backdrop were taken, and then to the press room to answer questions.
As we all made it out of the press room, we were welcomed into the winner’s lounge. KC, Beth and I clinked a glass of champagne because our work for the day was over. Although I was finished for the day, I still stuck around to watch the major celebrities arrive on the red carpet that evening and watch the live show from the lounge.
The important role of a publicist became even more apparent to me. Beth and KC did not miss a beat when offering their clients instructions, advice and a plan to navigate the media on the red carpet and in the press room. To me, it seemed like publicists are the bridge that connects the talent to the media, making sure the interaction goes as smoothly and as advantageously as possible.
By Erica Freeze
Every day journalists and bloggers receive too many emails to count. Many of these emails are from public relations practitioners across the country who are paid by their employers and clients to reach out to press and hopefully gain some coverage. Because of this mass influx of emails, many pitches are overlooked. This is because pitches received are often too lengthy, not professional or irrelevant to the writer. But believe it or not, there are ways to reach the press, and if you follow these tips you may be able to do so. Here are a few rules to follow for success:
Choose a target:
Choose an outlet that fits your client. For example, if you represent a small coffee shop, pitch to a blogger who explores coffee shops in your area. If you represent a larger company, strive to reach for larger news platforms. Make sure that the blogger or reporter you target tends to write about topics that relate to your client.
Do your research:
Whether pitching to a blogger or a reporter, make sure to read up on the writer’s previous posts or articles. Do this to create an understanding of their interests and the way they write. Think about how your story will help them extend their focus further. When pitching, let the receiver know how your story will fit with their expertise, and most importantly, how it will be of interest to that writer’s readers.
Personalize the email:
After gaining an understanding of the reporter or blogger you hope to utilize, personalize your email with their name and outlet. Writers appreciate emails that are personalized and correctly formatted because it shows that you as a public relations professional took the time to read their material and understand their background.
Pitch a short and precise story:
Address the reporter in your email, and then get straight to the point. Reporters do not have the time to read a lengthy email highlighting details about your company and how it ended up creating a certain product. Don’t pitch your company’s new product without explaining how this accomplishment is part of a larger story. Pitch to the writer how you think its readers will benefit from this new product. Format this information in a structure that is easy to read, with potentially bullet points. Then end with a reasonable and convenient way for the reporter to follow up. The reporter will quickly be able to decide whether he or she will cover your story, and with a massive amount of pitches coming in each day, shorter is better.
You may not always be able to reach the reporter of the blogger of your dreams, but if you follow these guidelines you may be able to reach some great story tellers. How will you use these tips to tell your client’s story?
By Talia Smith
If you follow me on Spotify, you might assume an eight-year-old stole my account password and has been streaming children’s music for the past year. I’m here to say it’s actually me who listens to artists such as Brady Rymer and the Little Band that Could, the Okee Dokee Brothers, Recess Monkey, Frances England and Secret Agent 23 Skidoo. While I do thoroughly enjoy their music, these artists are our five Grammy-nominated clients at Sugar Mountain PR.
Sugar Mountain PR (SMPR) is a Portland-based agency that promotes children’s entertainment. I have been doing freelance work for SMPR owner, Beth Blenz-Clucas, for more than a year now and am fortunate enough to be joining her PR team at the 59th Annual Grammy Awards in L.A. this weekend.
This all transpired in a sort of serendipitous way and I thought I’d share what I have learned so far in the lead-up to this event.
Don’t Underestimate Your Network
I was introduced to SMPR in Portland through two connections from my hometown in New Jersey: my mom and Brady Rymer from Brady Rymer and the Little Band that Could. My mom discovered SMPR when she was trying to book Brady for an event a few years back.
I didn’t know Brady as the children’s musician; I knew him as the bassist for the band, From Good Homes. They have a large following on the East Coast and I grew up listening to their music. Without my mom or Brady, I wouldn’t have known to reach out to Beth at SMPR.
The lesson I learned from this is that sometimes the most rewarding connections are not obvious ones. I would have never thought that I would find PR work through my mom, who did not have a PR background or my favorite local band. Sometimes you have to dive deep into your third, fourth, maybe even 17th level networks.
Sugar Mountain was not seeking a freelance intern when I applied. I got the job because I asked. I was not originally invited to assist at the Grammys. I’m going because I asked. I learned you sometimes have to take it upon yourself to reach out and offer your services. I think of how many opportunities I might have passed up just because I didn’t ask. As Christopher McCandless said, “If you want something in life, just reach out and grab it.”
Go Along for the Experience and Leave Room to Be Pleasantly Surprised
When at first I asked Beth if I could assist her team at the Grammys, she said yes but made it clear that she couldn’t promise I would have a press pass to get on the red carpet. I was still eager to go because they needed someone to sell merchandise at the pre-Grammy concert featuring all five nominated children’s musicians. I also have family in the L.A. area who I could visit and stay with.
I knew there was a chance that I would not be involved in any of the red carpet Grammy events, but I still wanted to go along for the ride. I would either have the chance to visit my family and work a cool concert or I would get to visit my family, work a cool concert AND work the red carpet and media room at the Grammys on Sunday. I couldn’t go wrong with either outcome. As it turns out, I was pleasantly surprised to receive an email from the Recording Academy to learn my press pass was approved. Then I was able to wholeheartedly freak out and go shopping for a dress.
I’m telling my story to show that it snowballed from a humble start. I think a lot of opportunities have extraordinary potential when you learn to, “Just Say Hi,” as Brady Rymer would say.
By Erica Freeze
A public relations (PR) survey is more than just an investigation of a group of people. A PR survey often consists of exploring key publics to gain insight into their opinions or experiences with a certain brand or organization. The information obtained from surveys helps PR practitioners to create a successful plan to target key publics. Because of this, knowing how to create an effective survey is crucial to helping the brand you represent achieve its goals. Here are some quick tips for writing online surveys in the public relations realm:
1) Decide exactly what you want to know about your audience(s):
All practitioners who conduct a survey want their findings to be provoking and eye-opening. But to gain the best insight into your key audiences, you must cater your questions to understand the different individuals in your audience. Would you like to see the differences in education levels, gender, or employment status when it comes to the perception of your organization? Make a list of what you exactly want to discover from your findings, and hone in on the topic that you believe help you truly understand your audience. Decide exactly what you want to find out of the survey and keep it short.
2) Keep questions short and closed:
Keeping the questions on a survey short and concise will make the survey more desirable to respondents. This also helps you concentrate on the key objectives of the survey and will help to get the most accurate and honest results. Additionally, keeping the questions closed-ended, meaning you have to select from a certain group of answers, will make your job easier when it comes to calculating results. Open-ended questions without a selectable answer may be easier to craft, but harder for your audience to answer, as they have to think thoroughly about their answers. Closed questions will generate the results you need.
3) Think outside yes-or-no questions:
A common mistake people make is writing yes-or-no questions. These questions often frustrate respondents because they cannot always give their honest opinion in their answers. Think of scales involving variation, such as: strongly favorable, somewhat favorable, neither favorable nor unfavorable, somewhat unfavorable, or strongly unfavorable. These words can be interchanged with, for example, “agree or disagree” or “considerable.” Creating your survey in terms of scales will help you gain much more insight into your target audience and will provide you with much more information.
4) Take your own survey:
Take the survey you create and keep in mind how you react to the questions throughout the process. It is important to keep in mind respondent experience. Simple questions with multiple answer choices provide more points of view, which helps you to have more honest results. I once took a survey that asked respondents which music platform they would be, along with something to justify that answer. For example, one answer read “I am Spotify because I am adventurous and discover new things.” Questions such as this are confusing for respondents and also return minimal results.
If you need any additional help, it is always useful to search the internet for example surveys or successful surveys and see how they were constructed. How will you apply these tips to the next PR survey you create? Good luck!
By Talia Smith
It’s the PR major’s dream to snag a big-name internship over the summer, plop it on your resume in the fall and have a dream job nailed down by the time your graduate; it doesn’t always work out that way. Some of us spend the summer taking classes, traveling or working. There’s nothing wrong with that, and in fact, there are still plenty of ways to keep building upon your résumé and portfolio if interning does not fit into your summer plans. Here are some options to consider:
Create Your Own Blog
Writing consistently over the summer is a great way to practice discipline. If you can give yourself deadlines to meet, then not only will you improve your writing but you will end up with at least one solid piece to add to a portfolio. Employers like to hear that you write for pleasure because it’s an indication writing is more than a just requirement but it’s also something you are passionate about.
A few summers ago, I wrote a travel blog when I took a cross-country trip. I mentioned it in a cover letter which was later brought up in an interview. Mentioning my travel blog opened up a conversation which would not have otherwise been brought up in an interview, and the more conversational you can make an interview the better!
After creating a collection of samples from your blog, you can take your writing a step further and try freelance writing. There’s a bit more effort required for writing freelance, some trial, and error, but after all of the hard work you could end up with a published piece of writing that will hold weight in your portfolio.
First take a look at the writing opportunities offered on campus. There’s the Emerald, Spoon University, and Her Campus, to name a few. If you’re looking to make a little bit of cash, you could check out a freelance writing aggregator website which will post opportunities. If you have an idea for an article, you could approach a local publication and pitch them an idea. They might want you to write the story and often appreciate articles from a college student perspective.
Manage a Social Media Account
Do you have a family member with a small business? A friend who is an aspiring musician? Or are you a volunteer somewhere that is lacking an online presence? Offer to create or manage a social media account over the summer and see how many followers you can gain. Coordinating social media for someone will provide you with quantitative results to add to your resume and you can include the screen grabs in your portfolio. That’s a summer side hustle well spent!
Volunteer Design Skills
Do you have an eye for graphic design? There are plenty of nonprofits that could use your help designing flyers, brochures, posters, social media graphics and more. Whether you have access to Adobe InDesign or use the “freemium” design website, Canva, you can really make a difference to a local charity or fundraising event by offering your skills. At the end of the event, you’ll have a spread of pieces to add to your portfolio.
If an internship is not in the cards this summer, there are still plenty of opportunities to contribute to your portfolio and expand your resume. Each of these suggestions requires self-initiative which future employers will appreciate. While you’re hitting the books, traveling abroad or working at the pool this summer, see if you can arrange one of these side projects to keep adding to your repertoire of communication skills.
By Erica Freeze
Planning is essential to designing an effective public relations program. Planning in public relations involves researching, understanding a problem, and implementing a program to solve this problem. Adequate planning will determine if a public relations campaign will be a success or a failure. Because of this, it is important to know how to plan before starting a project both in school and in a public relations career. Here are some tips on how to plan appropriately for your next project:
Break down the elements: Public relations plans are broken down into four main elements: analysis, strategic research, implementation, and evaluation. A situation is a set of circumstances facing an organization. Without defining and analyzing a situation, it will be impossible to complete efficient research or to define the goal of a communications program later in the process. Research helps practitioners define a problem and think strategically. It is important to look at the bigger picture while analyzing and researching a situation. A situation analysis must factor in all parties, including stakeholders, teammates and the organization itself. It is important to accept the feedback of these parties so that a campaign team can predict and establish a goal. Once this feedback and research are outlined with an end date and goal in mind, the plan can be implemented.
Include all parties in decision making: Any public relations professional must be prepared to overcome any obstacles that occur during the implementation of a strategic plan. If a plan is implemented and there were disagreements on objectives, the plan may not satisfy the end goal. If there is an absence of feedback from an account manager, as well as any vital departments and stakeholders, important information and opinion may be forgotten. It is important for public relations professionals to be aware of any obstacles before they happen so that they can be fixed in a timely manner.
Determine success: How will you measure the success of your plan? Just as an organization’s goals and objectives change over time, the performance metrics that your team uses to track progress should also change. Metrics can show not only where the company is succeeding but also highlight specific areas of weakness. As data accumulates, the matrix can display trends and identify places which need improvement. There are tools such as Google Analytics which measure website or social media interactions, and then there are more advanced services, such as CyberAlert, which displays analytics for earned, owned and social media. Depending on the organization you work for, learning how to understand analytics tools is crucial to understanding the ways in which your company is falling short and succeeding.
Public relations is a constantly changing field. It is important to keep on top of the latest consumer trends and to have a thorough understanding of all parties that will be affected by a campaign. In order to launch a campaign, a strategic plan must be created. The capability to think strategically is what helps adequate public practitioners become strategic planners. Without a strategic plan in place, a campaign will fail because of a lack of understanding of a final goal. What are some ways you have found planning useful in your projects?
By Talia Smith
I’m going to be honest; I’m a total Podcast geek. But can you blame me? Podcasts are revolutionizing the way we consume information. First of all, they’re free. There are thousands of Podcasts to listen to in just about every category and they can be download directly to your smartphone. Second of all, they’re great for multitasking. Podcasts are perfect for anyone looking to learn more about any given topic but lacking enough hours in the day to read a magazine or a newspaper. You can learn something new from a Podcast while simultaneously cleaning your room, exercising, riding the bus or walking across campus to your next class. Personally, I love to learn more about the world of business through Podcasts.
It’s no secret that PR professionals need a business mindset in order to succeed in the industry. In fact, many PR majors start out as business majors and many PR majors choose to minor in business. I don’t fall into either of those scenarios, which is why I use Podcasts to learn more about the related field. For those like me, who want to know more about business, but don’t have the time to pick up Bloomberg Business Week, head to your Podcast or Stitcher app and subscribe to these 4 shows:
Freakonomics will help you rethink the dreaded economics requirement in the SOJC curriculum. The show uses economics to answer quirky sociological questions such as: Should Kids Pay Back Their Parents for Raising Them? How Much Does Your Name Matter? And Why Do We Really Follow the News?
Freakonomics is a must-listen for PR pros because of its array of topics and self-improvement episodes which provide a window into the study of incentives backed up with economic statistics. When you have a better idea of what makes people tick, then you can be successful at selling yourself and a brand you may represent. Many of the findings are surprising which why it is the kind of show you can’t help but share with others.
Listen to Episode: How to be More Productive
Learn about the eight steps to a more productive work day. Here’s a hint: motivation, focus, goal-setting, decision making, innovation, absorbing data, managing others and teams. Check out this episode for more context.
If you like the TV show Shark Tank, and are interested in how modest people grow successful companies from the ground up, then you will like How I Built This. You will hear interviews from millionaires and billionaires talking about how they overcame obstacles and filled a gap in the market with brands such as Patagonia, AirBnB, Spanx, Cliff Bar, and Southwest Airlines. These entrepreneurs became successful because they were able to effectively promote themselves and their products. Listening to their advice will offer insight into promoting a brand, starting a business and the tenacity required to do so. It is helpful to learn about the homemade PR that goes into the success of these companies.
Listen to Episode: Warby Parker: Dave Gilboa & Neil Blumenthal
The founders of this discount glasses company used their PR skills to barter with their supplier for inventory. You’ll see how it pays off to be skillful at both business and PR.
Planet Money offers a powerful punch of all things pop-culture in the business world in just 15-20 minutes. Listening every week is a great way to stay on top of business news headlines while learning something new and interesting each time. Since I started listening, I feel more in-tune to major business news stories such as Brexit, the Wells Fargo bank scandal and oil prices which I might not have paid as much attention to if it weren’t for the podcast’s excellent storytelling. Planet Money has the ability to take these topics and create a capitating and informative audio story.
Listen to Episode: #729: When Subaru Came Out
Subaru was facing an identity crisis back in the early 1990s and it wasn’t until they received help from a small ad agency that the car company was able to subliminally become the America’s hip and outdoorsy car brand.
Marketplace is a daily rundown of everything that is happening with the economy and stock market. Sounds boring, but I promise it is not convoluted. Hint: When they “run the numbers,” upbeat background music indicates the stock market is doing well whereas background music in a minor key means stock prices have dropped. Especially when working for a larger company, it is important to know the basic concepts about how the stock market functions.
Listen to Episode: You know what, just download the latest episode. Listening to marketplace is like listening to the news and you’ll want to listen to the most recent one.
If you’re looking to know more about the business world than listening to these podcasts is a convenient way to stay on top of current events and business trends. Public Relations and business go hand-in-hand and you will benefit from being knowledgeable about both. Next time you are washing your dishes, pop on a Podcast and see what you can learn about business.
By Erica Freeze
It is that time of year again, the season of travel! As the holidays quickly approach, many of us are eager to travel the world during winter break. If you are someone who loves to travel, don’t rule out one aspect of public relations that is less spoken of- travel and tourism public relations. Travel public relations’ role typically consists of three major tasks: stimulating the public’s desire to visit a place, arranging for travelers to get to their destination, and ensuring a comfortable stay for visitors once they arrive. While the aspect of traveling in this field may sound appealing, keep in mind that this is only a small part of the job. In any public relations career, you must be on top of the latest trends and news and be ready to tackle any crises professionally. If this sounds like something you may be interested in, here are some tips to see if this is the right career path for you:
Have an industry mindset:
As previously stated, keep in mind that working as a PR professional in the travel industry requires more than just a love for travel. Ask yourself: Am I genuinely interested in the travel industry?
Do I enjoy reading articles about travel trends? Following travel blogs? Am I aware of successful travel campaigns?
Am I prepared for crisis management involving the safety of travelers?
If you answered yes to more than one of these questions, then travel public relations could be your forte.
Get ready to pitch:
The public relations industry relies on publications to get the word out about the clients they represent. In travel public relations this is the same. Many travel public relations firms use bloggers and magazines to promote the services their clients provide. Getting a blogger to agree to post about any of your clients can be a challenge, however, there are certain ways to go about pitching that will help you be successful.
Often bloggers will provide guidelines on how best to pitch to a particular publication. These tips are important to read and adhere to and can create more success for your client.
Also keep in mind that bloggers and all publications seek unique and interesting stories. Only contact them if you have material that is news-worthy and will capture the reader’s interest. For example, if a hotel has recently hired a new critically acclaimed chef who serves up a variety of delicious dishes, then one may consider this newsworthy.
Know how to handle unplanned situations:
Crisis management is a critical part of public relations in the travel industry. A lot of things can go unplanned and some of these things are beyond your control. There can be poor weather conditions which delay transportation or misplaced luggage. Treating travelers well is extremely important in the travel and tourism industry. Travelers have the ability to build or tarnish your company’s reputation with reviews and through word of mouth. Even the best arrangements for guests can fall through and it is best to handle these situations professionally and with care. Being in communication with hotel and travel destination staff to ensure the proper handling of this situation is crucial. If something doesn’t go as planned, staff should be ready to treat travelers cheerfully and with respect to make them feel comfortable and happy. As a public relations professional, it will be your job to convey the importance of a good attitude to travel destination workers and to the clients you represent.
One example of a well-handled crisis in the travel industry was when Carnival Cruise Lines had a series of high profile incidents in 2012 and 2013, including the sinking of the Costa Concordia that resulted in the deaths of 32 passengers and the infamous Carnival “poop cruise.” Because of these incidents, Carnival bookings disappeared, proceeds dropped and the reputation of the corporation suffered. To combat this serious crisis, a new leadership team was put in place and the corporation brought in public relations professional Roger Frizzell as Chief Communications Officer to help recover the company’s reputation.
As you can see, travel public relations is complex. Travel public relations professionals need to ensure that the clients they represent have safe practices and facilities and that all travel staff are professional. In this industry you need to always be aware and ready to combat any crises. Do you think you have what it takes to take on a travel public relations profession? Get in contact with some professionals in the industry to learn more!