Hotel Public Relations: Rethinking Outdated Media Tactics

By Jennifer Nagy President, jlnpr | October 09, 2011

When most people think about the public relations profession, they think of two things: spin and propaganda. Sometimes, people will even go so far as to think that public relations professionals are nothing more than paid mouthpieces with questionable morality. Being a PR person, I definitely object to this incorrect portrayal of my beloved career choice. With that being said, I definitely understand where people get this misconception.

The first PR people, like the ‘Father of Spin’ Edward Bernays, used much different tools than the ones that I employ every day in promoting and publicizing my clients. In the early years of PR, propaganda – defined by Edward Bernays as “the conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses” - was a commonly used tool. In the past, publicists were viewed as deceptive manipulators, whereas today, PR people are embraced by journalists as a credible, trustworthy source of information.

This change in perception has been greatly influenced by the continual update of the beliefs, actions and strategies used by professionals in the field. As such, it’s important for the industry to continue moving forward as the world of media and technology changes, updating yesterday’s strategies and tactics to ensure that we, as an industry, are most effective at spreading the word for our clients, our companies or our brands.

So to help you to update your PR strategies, here are three ways that you can rethink your outdated hotel marketing and media strategies and become more effective at generating consumer interest and inspiring action (i.e. bookings!).

Outdated tactic: The press release

I know that you’re probably reading this wondering: “What? But the press release is the basic tool in every PR person’s arsenal. Without the press release, how am I going to inform media about my property’s news?”

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The driving force in current hotel spa trends is the effort to manage unprecedented levels of stress experienced by their clients. Feeling increasingly overwhelmed by demanding careers and technology overload, people are craving places where they can go to momentarily escape the rigors of their daily lives. As a result, spas are positioning themselves as oases of unplugged human connection, where mindfulness and contemplation activities are becoming increasingly important. One leading hotel spa offers their clients the option to experience their treatments in total silence - no music, no talking, and no advice from the therapist - just pure unadulterated silence. Another leading hotel spa is working with a reputable medical clinic to develop a “digital detox” initiative, in which clients will be encouraged to unplug from their devices and engage in mindfulness activities to alleviate the stresses of excessive technology use. Similarly, other spas are counseling clients to resist allowing technology to monopolize their lives, and to engage in meditation and gratitude exercises in its place. The goal is to provide clients with a warm, inviting and tranquil sanctuary from the outside world, in addition to also providing genuine solutions for better sleep, proper nutrition, stress management and natural self-care. To accomplish this, some spas are incorporating a variety of new approaches - cryotherapy, Himalayan salt therapy and ayurveda treatments are becoming increasingly popular. Other spas are growing their own herbs and performing their treatments in lush outdoor gardens. Some spa therapists are being trained to assess a client's individual movement patterns to determine the most beneficial treatment specifically for them. The July issue of the Hotel Business Review will report on these trends and developments and examine how some hotel spas are integrating them into their operations.