Why Public Relations Should be Part of the Hotel's Executive Team
By Didi Lutz President, Didi Lutz PR | February 26, 2012
As a hotelier, you need to select the best executive team possible to streamline daily operations, maximize revenue, monitor exposure, stay ahead of your competition, increase repeat business, while managing a million other things every day. Selecting your executive committee members traditionally consists of the following areas: Operations, Sales, Human Resources, Accounting, Engineering, Rooms, Food and Beverage. All these executive team members represent specific areas of the hotel that generate revenue, as well as influence and interact with the guest experience.
But, why isn't your Public Relations or Communications professional on the Executive team?
For years, the role of an in-house Public Relations Manager or Director usually fell under the hand of the Director of Sales and Marketing. The position typically includes handing all media requests, facilitating press inquiries, producing messages, press releases, announcements, media pitching, compiling media lists, gathering press clippings and maintaining photo archives, organizing Fam trips, monitoring the news environment, and most importantly, creating the public relations plan and helping form the communications strategy for the hotel. This person is also responsible for establishing and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships between the hotel and the media.
This is a very specialized expertise that many hotels tend to outsource it because true hospitality PR professionals are few and far between. So, properties think it makes more sense to spend money to outsource large agencies for communications counsel, when they could hire a specialized professional to do the job in-house. Some properties have had Directors of Public Relations for years or specialized independent consultants, and I'm happy to see that more and more hotels and resorts are doing the same. But, there is still a misperception.
The Public Relations Director needs to have his/her own department, regardless of a property's size because it interacts with all departments, not just with Sales and Marketing, as it has been conveniently pushed under that umbrella, and wrongfully so. Public relations professionals service all departments and need to work independently in order to better function with the property. For instance, when a story that has to do with the hotel's HVAC system, the PR Director needs to work with Engineering to promptly get the necessary information for the reporter. Similarly, the PR Director is responsible to media train the General Manager, Director of Sales, or the Concierge for a TV clip or a radio spot. And if the PR Director creates a crisis communications plan, s/he needs to meet with all departments in order to create a comprehensive plan.
These activities need to be reported directly to the General Manager, not the Sales and Marketing Director, as they affect the entire management of the hotel first and foremost.