Making the most of PR
Traditionally PR or (Public Relations) has been seen as a way to minimise the damage caused to a company or organisation from negative stories.
In the past it was the preserve of large companies who could afford to employ their own in-house PR people or engage an agency to do this work for them.
All too often these PR people spent their time watching the media for potential negative stories and then reacting to them as they broke issuing Press Statements and trying to control how the media perceived their organisation.
To a large degree this is a misconception now. With the advent of Social Media there is little point in trying to control negative stories. No single person or organisation has the ability or power to control social media and if they do try to do this it is often seen as a negative in itself.
PR, in short, has changed dramatically in recent years. In this blog we explain why you should be making the most of PR.
It should now form part of your organisations Marketing and Communications Strategy. This strategy should define exactly how you wish to promote and position your organisation in the highly complex world of multi-channel marketing and communications.
The traditional channels of TV, Radio and Print media are becoming more and more submissive to on-line news content and social media.
The rise of these new channels has changed the way we digest stories and most importantly for tourism businesses they have also radically changed the way in which consumers and customers make decisions on what to do and where to visit.
Sites like Trip Advisor are now widely regarded by customers as a trusted and valued source of information on how “Good” an attraction of tourism business is. They are often the first place people will go to research what to do and see in a new area and the reviews that are written about your organisation have the potential to make a huge difference, both positive and negative, to your level of business.
The other source that customers look to is peer to peer recommendation. This may be directly with their circle of on-line “friends” on platforms such as Facebook but it may also be through more diffuse media such as twitter and Instagram.
Do not underestimate the importance of managing your organisations on-line Brand on these platforms as they will be having a huge impact on your level of business whether you realise it or not.
The way in which you portray yourself both on-line and in traditional channels is hugely important to your Brand.
Respond Quickly and Positively
Respond proactively and positively in a consistent manner across as many of the platforms as you can manage to do so. If resources are difficult to find, prioritise which channels are most important to you and focus on these.
If you receive criticism or negative comments then address them quickly and openly. Admit when you are wrong and make every effort to address the problem and make sure it doesn’t happen again. Whenever possible try to contact the person or profile that posted the negative comment directly.
They will appreciate the effort you have made to resolve their issue and other people will see that you are proactive and honest in your desire to resolve that individuals issue.
By acting quickly and positively without being defensive and negative you can often stop an issue in its tracks.
Responses should also come from the most appropriate level within your organisation. If the issue is serious don’t leave it to the Marketing Assistant to handle it, the Chief Exec should be seen to be personally engaged!
Making the most of PR
When it comes to positive PR make sure you plan things well in advance, have an annual plan of when you would like the media and the general public to hear good things about you. This might be in the run up to peak holidays or it might coincide with important dates for your organisation. This might be the launch of a new exhibit, release of your Annual Report, anniversary dates, etc, etc.
Have a schedule of what stories you want to release and when. Include the way in which you will release the stories, what day of the week, what time of day and importantly what the release will say and who will manage the responses and how.
Try to think also about the ways in which the stories might be “spun”, are there any negative outcomes possible. Can the media churn up old stories related to your latest one? If this is the case plan some responses and again agree who will handle them.
For big stories it is best to make sure a spokesperson is freely available to respond to press enquiries. This might involve interviews so make sure they are free to handle these and that they are armed with the right facts and background.
With very few exceptions, PR has a far higher impact than advertising. The perceived value of a positive editorial piece on your organisation (Advertising Value Equivalency) can be measured in multiples of the impact of a paid for advert covering the same amount of column inches.
In one organisation that I recently ran we regularly achieved over 700 positive articles across all media channels each year with an Advertising Value Equivalency in excess of £9m!
A professionally devised and managed PR strategy can reap huge rewards not only in terms of your organisations “Brand” but also in your footfall.
For help devising your tourism businesses Marketing and Communications Strategy (including PR) please get in touch. If you have enjoyed reading this blog on Making the most of PR please check out the other blogs on our site.
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