Here Are 10 Surefire Ways to Get the Publicity You Need to Get Heads in Beds
|By Glenn Hasek, President, Hasek Communications, December 2005
If you are in the planning stages for the opening of a new hotel or a significant renovation, and you expect to get noticed by the media upon project completion, you would be wise to keep the following 10 tips in mind.
1. When possible, be unique and different with your hotel’s design and amenities. This may be stating the obvious, but the media—whether local or trade—ultimately is not going to be as interested in a hotel that is cookie cutter, has no interesting story to tell, and is no different than its market competitors. Because the Courtyard by Marriott—Los Angeles/San Fernando Valley (click here to read the press release) went beyond brand standards with extra amenities and a unique boutique-style design, it was of greater interest to the media and was featured in numerous publications including Hotels magazine and L.A. Direct.
2. Just as you should start early designing your marketing strategy and hiring the most qualified sales staff, start just as early establishing your public relations strategy and selecting a qualified public relations professional. Most hotels do not have the money or the need to employ a full-time public relations professional, but there are highly qualified consultants available who can guide you through the planning process. Be sure to select a professional who has lodging industry experience. An experienced representative knows the best way to make an impact. Once you have selected your consultant, clarify your expectations before reaching an agreement.
3. Once you and the consultant have established an agreement that details both parties’ expectations, work with that person to establish a media target list. The list should include names, titles, e-mail addresses, phone numbers and a brief description of the media outlet each person represents. Ask to review the spreadsheet. It should include names from the following: local newspapers, area business magazines, radio and TV stations, chambers of commerce, industry association newsletters and convention and visitors bureau publications. The spreadsheet also should include contact information for industry trade publications as well as industry electronic newsletters—Hotel Online, for example.
4. Decide what type of press release strategy will work best for your hotel: just one press release, a series of releases, or a complete press kit that includes press releases, hotel background and highlights, as well as other material such as owner/management company information. The consultant should know what is best for your property. The person you hire should communicate with you consistently during every step of the publicity process, get your approval on each piece of written material, inform you of successes and provide proof of them.
5. Select a professional photographer to shoot high-quality digital photos of the interior and exterior areas of your hotel. An amateur is less likely to understand what angles and lighting are necessary for good composition. The photographer should provide images to you and your public relations professional in both high- and low-resolution formats (high-res for print publications and low-res for online reproduction). With the assistance of your consultant, select several photos that can be used on an ongoing basis to help brand your hotel. These images also can be used on any of the many travel websites where your hotel will be listed.
6. As mentioned above, determine what is most unique about your hotel. Highlight it in the headline of each press release. When the Noble Investment Group recently opened the Courtyard by Marriott at UAB (University of Alabama-Birmingham), what was highlighted in the release’s headline was the fact that the hotel was downtown Birmingham’s first new hotel in 15 years. (Click here to read that press release.) Editors often will give more attention to stories that are unique and different.
7. Meet the media. One way to do that is to work with your public relations consultant to organize a media reception and hotel tour. A well-organized and creative consultant should be able to manage the distribution of invitations, follow-up and RSVPs. A good time to hold a reception is very soon after the hotel’s opening. A pre-opening exclusive also may be given to a prominent media outlet if the opening or renovation merits that—typically done at a larger, historic, or landmark hotel.
8. Hold an open house and invite the business community and/or public. Give away a few free weekends, pay to have a local celebrity appear, or invite a radio or TV station, if possible, to do a remote broadcast from the hotel lobby. Once again, use your public relations professional to help coordinate invitations, write a press release and follow-up with the media to drum up interest in this type of event.
9. One way to gather the media, the business community and public officials at the same time is to hold a ribbon cutting ceremony. Hire a professional photographer to record the event. Work with your public relations professional to coordinate the invitations, press release and follow-up. Invite the mayor, area government representatives, business leaders and other dignitaries.
10. In public relations, repetition is everything. It takes multiple impressions to help brand your hotel. If you are happy with the quality of the work performed by your public relations representative, establish an ongoing relationship. Openings and renovations are not the only reasons to issue a press release. Other possible reasons: personnel appointments, special events, celebrity appearances, sales promotions, to announce an award, respond to a crisis event or publicize a volunteer program.
If you select a public relations professional with a proven track record and industry experience, you will have a lot less to worry about before, during and after the hotel opening/renovation process.
Glenn Hasek, who has more than 12 years of hospitality industry experience, is president of Hasek Communications, a public relations company based in Cleveland, Ohio. Hasek Communications provides public relations services to individual hotels, resorts, hotel and franchise companies, ownership groups, management companies, businesses that provide products and services to the hospitality industry, and affiliated companies. Services provided by Hasek Communications include: news release writing, case study writing, media relations, newsletters, press kits, brochure and other marketing-related design and writing, and ad copy writing and design. For additional information, call (440) 243-2055, e-mail email@example.com or visit www.hasekcom.com.