Tuesday, September 21, 2010

21st Century Hotel Public Relations: 10 Approaches Your Granddad Never Thought Of

I wanted to share a great article written by TravelInkd’s Jennifer Rodrigues for Hotel Business Review on the future M.O.'s of hospitality PR. The content is relevant, though, to any industry working its way into the new millennium.

The practice of public relations for hotels, like the practice of public relations for all industries, has steadily evolved over the years. In the last decade, however, change has come much more rapidly. The channels of communication have opened wide, and what was once a single three-branched media river has multiplied (or divided?) into thousands of individual streams. Through these streams flows a volume of information no one thirty years ago could have even begun to fathom, let alone process.

This means there is a wealth of public relations strategies available that leverage the nature of this information delivery delta. For lodging, an industry that sometimes seems hopelessly tethered to past practices, these strategies and tactics can appear daunting, foreign, or even irrelevant. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Hotels are entirely capable- one might even say well-poised - to execute 21st century public relations strategies. Because the core product hotels are delivering is an inherently personal one (the guest experience), it lends itself to well-targeted, personalized communications- which, of course, are the hallmark of 21st century public relations.

So without further ado, here is our list of ten next generation public relations approaches hotels can and ought to be exploring right away. Some may not be revelations in the truest sense of the word (anyone not running a hotel from a cave in Antarctica knows about Twitter and Facebook), but all of these are strategies that hotels in general have not engaged to their fullest potential.


Twitter is the ultimate mash-up of personal and broadcast communication. As such, it is the penultimate 21st century PR tool. Tweeting relevant, gripping information is an excellent way to build awareness and engagement among your followers (hopefully loyal, previous and potential guests). It’s also a way to develop an identity through content, or a way to reinforce an existing brand. Where most hotels get tripped up in Twitter is by being inconsistent tweeters, or slow responders. Create a Twitter strategy, and make someone in the marketing and PR department accountable for monitoring your feed and executing the strategy on an ongoing basis.

Facebook (ings)

In terms of identity and brand image control, nothing comes close to Facebook and its siblings (LinkedIn, etc.). It is a platform to put forth the best aspects of a hotel, and a sounding board for new initiatives and consumer interaction. The same pitfalls that affect hotels’ usage of Twitter apply to Facebook: a lack of appropriate commitment, a lack of relevance, and a failure to foster real interaction. As such, the same remedies apply: install a social media point person, have them feed relevant information into the profile, and require accountability for responding to ‘friends’. Again, this isn’t something that you can do just once or twice a week. Social media is a full-time job and a communication tool that needs to be taken seriously or else you risk wasting time and resources, as well as alienating your friends and followers.

Tell Your Own Story

What the social media tools (and the other tools mentioned here) afford hotels is the ability to tell their story on their own terms. This, however, is not limited to social media communications; indeed, the practice of telling your own story is applicable across mediums. This is certainly not a new idea, but it is a concept that has become much easier to put into practice in the last few years. Hotels must become more willing to craft a story around notable aspects of their operations, and effectively transmit that story through multiple information outlets. Now, a hotel can post any story they wish to their Facebook page or blog, but when it comes to convincing a traditional broadcast media outlet to pick it up, relevance, interest and craftsmanship become important. This is where the distinction between a story and an announcement becomes acute, and where hotels need to become aware that telling their own story in the right way to the right person is the only way to get noticed.

You can read the rest of Jennifer's article on the iThinkInk blog here

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