I was recently invited to speak to 50 over hotel PR executives in Jakarta at an event organized by Himpunan Humas Hotel (H3) Jakarta, an association for PR professionals in the hotel industry in Jakarta. Besides sharing best practices of press release writing, many questions were raised with regards to how the shift to digital media is changing the PR game. Here are four key takeaways from the sharing session:
The late author and PR exec Leonard Saffir once said, “The formulation of a PR strategy properly begins with listening, not talking.” Even in a digital world, getting to know your audience is imperative. Why bother writing a press release if you don’t know who you’re trying to reach?
Do research on your audience. For a start, get familiar with Google Analytics and the insights/analytic data provided by the social media platforms that you are on, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, etc. Find out the kinds of content your audience like and the devices they use to consume the content. Analyze and follow Twitter’s hashtag or influencers for social conversation around relevant topics. Then use that influx of data to make informed decisions and conduct a more interactive conversation with your audience.
“But I don’t get an access to Google Analytics for my hotel’s website. After all, it’s meant for web developers,” says one attendee. Well, not anymore! Welcome to PR in the digital age. Find out more about how to align your PR activities with web analytics in this post.
For the more sophisticated PR professionals, there are social listening tools in the market that could streamline the entire process of identifying the right audience and topics that are trending in the social media, and make a meaningful connection with the audience. For instance, the Cision Communications CloudTM empowers the communicator and PR pro to make intelligent, real-time decisions to execute communication strategy in a unified way across paid, owned and earned channels. It allows you to listen to your audiences, target and build relationships with influencers, create compelling content, engage with audiences across channels and analyze program effectiveness. Read this blog for more information about media monitoring and how Cision Communications CloudTM pinpoints actionable insights vital to achieving your marketing and communications objectives.
A PR exec from a well-known hotel chain asked me about possible alternatives to reach more audience amid the declining print readership. “Am I doing the right thing by targeting more digital news outlets?” she asked.
It’s not all about how many eyeballs you can get. The right question should be: “Am I targeting the right eyeballs?”
For instance, resort hotels and business hotels may have different target audience. Most guests in business hotels may pay more attention to finance publications rather than trade publications in the travel industry. So, check your target media outlets and ask if those publications read by most of your target audience?
Take this press release from Dorsett Mongkok Hotel as an example.
Although Hong Kong is a destination of choice for travelers, the hotel clearly understands they are facing stiff competition from local and international hotel groups who are vying for the same group of customer. With their strategic location in the heart of Kowloon island and close proximity to nearby places of interest, they highlighted their unique selling points and at the same time announced the launch of incentive programs for travelers, especially those traveling with children to captivate their interests. The news was picked up by travel and holidaying-related website and the hotel probably has lesser concern over whether their news was picked up by mainstream business and financial media.
Creating Contents in Multiple Formats
“How can I avoid creating contents that are too salesy?” another attendee asked.
Sure! Your hotel may be bestowed upon industry’s signature awards and it is hard to resist using phrases like “award-winning”, “best-in-class”, “iconic flagship”. And very often, there are upcoming seasonal offers that the hotel is planning to roll out, it’s difficult to be not salesy.
But here’s the catch: hotel and travel industry is all about experience and sharing it with others. The best way to do that is through visual storytelling. Instead of just using words, you can create photos and videos content that showcasing your selling points. This multimedia news release from The Parisian Macao is a perfect example.
Take a step ahead of the competition. Write useful contents for your audience e.g. 5 Best Local Souvenir Shops around [Your Hotel]; Best Ideas for Airport Layovers in Jakarta. Find an interesting story angle for your content and tailor it to different news outlets as well as social media. See how HomeAway, a leading provider of vacation rental released its survey findings on the most wanted gifts Asian dads wish to receive on Father’s Day. And it is not at all a surprise to know most dad wants a trip with family. A brilliant way to strengthen the company’s positioning.
The Value of Customer Feedback
One PR Exec asked my opinion about his plan to host a hijab (a headwear, typically wore by Muslim women) fashion show in the hotel to celebrate the upcoming religious holiday. “Cool!” I initially responded.
“How do you come up with the idea?”
“I don’t know. We just want something edgy, unlike another hotel.”
“Do you even ask your guests about this?”
“No.” he said.
Indeed, customer experience management is easier said than done. Gathering feedback from hotel guests may be one thing. But only a few PR execs who use it to improve customer interaction. Again, social media is changing the way we work. Twitter Poll is free to use and can yield instant customer insights.
Author: Patrick Hutapea is the Senior Audience Development Executive in Indonesia for PR Newswire.