Is your hotel ready for the diversified state of public relations today? Are you ready to set traditional PR to the back of the line and move forward with some new tactics?
In this article, we look at hotel public relations trends.
You’ll learn about the state of PR today and ways to incorporate the new tactics into your hotel marketing and public relations strategies.
When we mention the term, public relations, you may be thinking of the traditional person-to-person contact between PR pros and the media. In other words, your PR staff members contact newspaper and television reporters in the hopes that they’ll write an article or do a live shot from your hotel.
While we don’t recommend neglecting relationship building with the local media, this type of public relations isn’t the most advantageous for your hotel in the 21st century.
The communications industry has exploded, and your options are now multi-faceted. There isn’t just one traditional path open to you anymore. The Internet has given you many options where you can control the stream of information and communicate with current and potential customers.
In fact, there are so many public relation strategies available to you today, it’s time to dive in and discuss hotel public relations trends.
Build a Relationship
Your hotel is uniquely poised to leverage the public relations trend of relationship building due to the nature of the guest experience. Staying in your hotel is an intimate experience for travelers, and as such, holds great potential for your hotel.
Traditional PR encourage relationship building with the media. Today’s trend dictates that you extend that relationship building to the general public as well as your customers.
Social media is the perfect avenue for relationship building. You have the ideal opportunity to foster relationships with your guests.
From responding to positive and negative comments to sharing information about fun things to do in your city, the door is wide open for nurturing relationships on any social media platform you choose.
Show respect to your audience. Encourage their comments. Listen and respond to negativity with empathy and compassion. Remember that your words on the Internet live on forever, so be sure what you say is really what you want to say.
When posting on social media, know your audience and target material to them. Listen, share and comment to build a relationship, and you’re well on your way to harnessing the power of relationship building.
To start with, you might want to pick the top two – Facebook and Twitter.
Facebook is the social media leader with more than one billion active members.
Your hotel can really shine on Facebook. Tell your story and build your brand. Some important things to remember when posting and sharing on Facebook include:
- Commit. Make a social media plan and schedule your posts ahead of time so you make sure to share every day.
- Respond. Even though you’re scheduling posts, you still want to be present daily so you can respond to comments and questions.
- Be relevant. Share things that interest your followers. Check your Facebook insights to see which posts work and which don’t.
- Put someone in charge. Make sure that one person is responsible for monitoring your social media. We’re not talking once a week – this is a daily exercise.
On Twitter, the same basic rules apply. The tweeting guidelines are different in that you have less characters to work with, but the results are often as good as Facebook.
Build your brand identity on Twitter. Tweet regularly, even more often than you post on Facebook. Again, be consistent and respond quickly. Twitter is a very in-the-moment social media platform.
Craft a Narrative
Public relations today is not only about relationship building, it’s about telling a story. This story should be interesting, intriguing, thought provoking and interesting to your customers.
You can use social media, your website and your blog to tell your story.
Public relations professionals have been crafting stories for years, but they’ve never had such an easy time disseminating the information. The Internet makes this possible in ways public relations gurus hadn’t even thought of 20 years ago.
Tell stories through your guests. Enlighten customers with a narrative that circles around your hotel. Share the stories on social media and your blog. Use the written word as well as video.
Because of the Internet, if your story is interesting enough, national media can see it online. You might even find they tell your story for you.
Forget the traditional PR press release here. Tell a story, write it well, post it online and encourage people to share it. If it gets shared enough times, someone of importance will find your story and make it even bigger.
Write a Blog
To continue our discussion of hotel public relations trends, it’s worth noting that your blog is another tool in your PR arsenal.
Do you occasionally write a blog post and share it on social media? The question is, “How often do you do this?” If your answer is once or twice a month, you aren’t doing it often enough.
Like social media, blogging takes dedication, consistency and commitment. And, it’s well worth your while.
Your story can be told in multiple ways on your blog. It’s the perfect arena for text-heavy articles that put your hotel in front of more people.
Your hotel blog can be your public relations centerpiece. You create content that can then be shared through social media and email newsletters.
Build your identity and further your brand with hotel blogging.
Position Yourself as the Expert
Blogging consistently establishes you as an expert. But, blogging doesn’t just have to happen on your own blog.
Reach out to influencers in your community. Contribute to their blogs. Establish a partnership where you share their articles, and they share yours.
This gets your hotel in front of many more people while establishing you as the expert.
To position your hotel as the expert on a given topic, research your article, cite sources and run it by another person before publishing. Make sure your topics are relevant and interesting to your chosen audience.
Ditch the Press Release
The trend is definitely not in favor of the press release. They’ve even become somewhat of a “dirty word” in public relations circles.
We do think you can make an argument for sending a press release once in a great while, but for the most part, you should leave this outdated vehicle in the past.
Press releases just don’t work anymore. Why not? Because people, and even the media, expect to have a relationship with someone before publicizing their information.
The press release is an easy fallback, but it’s also not the best use of your time. A phone call or personal visit is a much better way to be heard. Even better, build the relationship long before you need the news outlet to do something for you.
If you don’t have relationships with your local media, reach out today. Build the relationship so when you do have something to say, they are already engaged with you.
Follow your local journalists on Facebook and Twitter. Repost or retweet their information. Introduce yourself and invite them to your hotel.
Get creative and find ways for your hotel to stand out. Then, you can bet they’ll call on you when they need something as well.
Leverage an Online Survey
In the past, public relations was about distributing information.
Yet, there’s another side to communication and hotel public relations trends. After all, how can you build a relationship with your target audience if you don’t know who they are or what they want?
The best way to find out is with an online survey. Through the survey, you’ll find out what your customers are eager to hear and know. You can then craft material to suit their needs.
To get your online survey out to more people, you can direct people to an online link through your email marketing, website and social media.
Be Your Own Advocate
In the past, you might have sent a press release to a travel writer in the hopes that they’d craft a delightful piece about your hotel.
You don’t have to wait for this to happen anymore. You can write your own story and send it to the travel writer.
By generating your own content, you determine the angle of your story and keep it true to your brand. Travel writers and reporters will be glad you did the work.
For example, let’s say one of your staff members got recognized for his work with a local non-profit, and your hotel got involved. You can write the story and publish it online and send it to reporters or other writers.
Authorship is an important hotel public relations trend and one you can use to further your hotel.
Manage Your Reputation
The explosion of digital media options means another trend in hotel public relations is managing your hotel’s digital reputation.
For example, if someone is interested in staying at your hotel, or a journalist wants to cover your latest event, the first thing they’ll do is hit the web to do some research on you.
If they find a lot of negatives, you can bet they won’t cover your event or stay at your hotel. Their search means they’ll either like your hotel, or they won’t.
Your job when it comes to public relations is making sure the content they find is something you can be proud of. Your brand should shine. You want to pass the “Google search” test.
If you’ve done the leg work and built up your digital content and honed your brand identity, you have nothing to worry about.
It’s worth noting that online reputation management is an ongoing activity and one you shouldn’t avoid.
Work with Influencers
Another hotel public relations trend is the work you can do to garner the attention of leading industry influencers. These are the social media monarchs with huge followings or the blog writers with one million subscribers.
You want to position your hotel well with these people. By doing this, you can gain access to their networks and their power and influence to promote your hotel.
Hug Your Haters
At least that’s what Jay Baer tells us in his new book, Hug Your Haters. What’s this have to do with public relations? It turns out a lot really.
Social media has given an entire culture permission to post not only positive comments about businesses, but also negative ones. And, they’re posting about their bad experiences in record numbers.
This impulsivity on the part of consumers can have repercussions for your hotel. What might have started as one negative comment has the potential to snowball into hundreds.
This brings us to another trend in hotel public relations. This is establishing a process to avoid and/or deal with customers’ negative experiences.
The trend dictates that you deal with the situation before it turns in to a public relations nightmare. What might have taken months to explode, now can take a mere few minutes to turn into a situation that’s very hard to turn around.
So, don’t ignore your haters. “Hug” them with your empathy. Reach out to them and solve their problems.
This helps your hotel, and it helps your social media followers know that you care about their relationship with your hotel.
Public relations today is all encompassing. It’s about building your brand, crafting a story, and nurturing the relationship between your hotel and the public.
It’s much more than the press release. Public relations is the foundation of your entire marketing strategy, and it’s imperative to the success of your hotel in the future.
The best thing you can do when it comes to public relations and your hotel’s marketing is to create a plan and work it.
Position your hotel as a leader in your community, as an expert on the Internet and as the master relationship builder in the social media stratosphere.
Be known as the hotel who knows and cares about her customers.