Hotel Public Relations: Your Fifteen Minutes

By Andrew Freeman President, Andrew Freeman & Company | October 28, 2008

The power of a well-executed public relations plan can go a long way in promoting your brand, telling people what you are doing, and ultimately driving business to your hotel, all with more credibility than advertising and at a fraction of the cost. Building a relationship with your public relations team will allow you to be successful in these goals and bring you the fifteen minutes - and more - that your hotel deserves.

What is public relations? Most immediately associate it with media relations, working with journalists to secure coverage about your hotel, a significant part of any public relations plan. On a greater scale, public relations encompasses all of your "publics," including new and repeat guests, employees, media, community and vendors.

The power that a solid public relations plan holds comes through integrating a consistent message for all of these publics, especially on a long-term basis. The power also comes from the inherent credibility that public relations, especially media relations, has. Traditional advertising brings results from only that publication, and everyone is clear you paid for it. With public relations and media coverage, there is more crossover; oftentimes a story appearing in print will then be broadcast or shared with sister publications and outlets, resulting in significantly more coverage and more time in the spotlight. In addition, since media is not typically perceived as trying to sell something, they are a more trusted source, which in turn provides more credibility when it comes to making buying decisions.

How can a public relations team help represent your hotel?

Are you ready for the spotlight? When is the right time or the wrong time to launch a public relations campaign? Oftentimes, clients will complain their PR team is not getting the results they want. Alternatively, the biggest complaint public relations teams have is that help is offered to the client, but then there aren't any differentiating factors about the hotel or 'news' to share with the media, or the client is not available. Before your PR team can pitch the media on news about your hotel, you need to be prepared. Is your message clear? (Some companies spend more than two years getting the message perfected before presenting it to all their publics. For instance, when I launched to cabaret at the legendary Russian Tea Room in New York City, we took almost a year to create all of the program's elements before we went live). What are the elements that make you shine above the rest? Has your property recently been renovated? Is your staff ready? Do the services and amenities you offer stand out for the level of your hotel? Would you be proud to invite media to your hotel? Inviting media to your property is like inviting a critic to a play. You want to be certain the script is well written, the sets are complete and the cast and crew are ready for the performance. Public relations teams are wasting your money if you're not enthusiastically taking the steps to both prepare for the coverage. You must be involved in the process!

How do you manage your public relations team?

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.