|Juthika Sinha, Nucleus PR|
So is it all about good food, some exotic wine, some members from the press and a launch party or hospitality PR is more than that? Let’s seep into the subject matter and find out what results from an amalgamation of a good PR strategy and hospitality marketing rules.
PR is not advertising so it does not promise exposure ( read: in sq cms and formats that the client wants ) like ads do. Just like broth takes time and simmers on low heat which brings in the fragrance and the taste, PR is a slow but consistent process that provides relevant visibility to a hospitality brand via various media tools over a due course of time. Just like to you cannot will a tiramisu cake to cook instantly with the same flavours you cannot rush PR into giving you instant results with the same impact. The taste, flavour or look of the dish is bound to be a little or a lot off if you mess with the important ingredient required to make the perfect dish – time!
Most hoteliers have a misconception that PR and marketing is the same thing and the ultimate goal is to generate revenue. PR is a subset of marketing and it performs a certain function but needs marketing support too once it is done. Once you have made the perfect tiramisu cake you need to relevant support to
promote the dish out there too. That is where marketing comes in. Budgeting for events, socials, tie ups and promotions give PR more fodder to promote the Tiramisu cake.
PR in the Hospitality industry features a third person perspective. If done in the right manner, hospitality PR can prove to be a convincing tool for relevant visibility for a brand, a chain or an individual property. This will thus achieve sustainability and credibility.
Have you given it a thought? PR is in the soul of every industry. I learnt this from very interesting workshop on PR and Communications by Amit Punjabi via PRPOI (Public Relations Professionals of India). Every industry has words related to PR. The hospitality industry has words like PR oduct, PR esentation, PR eparation, and PR omise. Notice the first two alphabets of the most important words of the vertical ? Ahh! This was just some food for thought. Let’s get back to business. So how do we get started? Here are the core ingredients for good hospitality PR.
A Good PR Campaign is Key to Your Success |
It is more than just disseminating press releases. We have to be good story-tellers. The campaign should be a good blend of creative and strategic thinking and relevant understanding of the various aspects of the hotel operations and the current market scenario. All of these have to be carefully layered like the perfect Tequila Sunrise. Facts tell but stories sell!
The impact and intensity of a campaign should always be according to the capacity of the client to handle the increased business due to the increase in visibility. They should have the bandwidth to handle the increased footfalls else the campaign could have a serious backlash.
Think beyond |
Be newsworthy. We are in-charge of selling a good story. Before sending a press note or calling a journalist think and ask yourself “is it news worthy?”. As a consumer how much would you care about the news and hence as a journalist is this piece of news worth your time? We need to educate ourselves and the clients that media does not care even if it is a five star hotel giving an obnoxious discount. We have to churn out the best selling points for persistent visibility. Give it a trend story angle to the journalist. As PR professionals it is our responsibility to ensure that both sides understand and the message is sent out in a fashion that is relevant and newsworthy to both.
Set Yourself Apart |
Each hospitality brand has a distinguishable quality. Find out and leverage that particular quality with the media. Leverage the USP to gain visibility via reviews, article and product placements, opinion pieces, combined stories and industry articles. Always ask your client the question…how is the chicken sweet corn soup available here different from the ones available in the other restaurants? How do you set it apart? Make that a standard question that the client should expect from you, so much so that, after a point they start the information sharing with “How it is different”. Once you educate your client that this is one of the most important questions that the media expects you to answer then they will also start thinking in that direction making your job more seamless and results more quick and impactful.
Know your Audience |
|Take the time to know your customers
Image: Newscafe, Bangalore
For a good return of investment you should know who your audience or consumer is and what attracts them to your property and how do they get the news? Regular interactions with key customers and feedback forms from regular patrons help in assessing the situation every now and then. When this becomes a practice it engages the customer also on a deeper level. This will also help and build credibility.
Media training is of utmost importance |
What is to be said and how it is to be said needs to be understood by the brand. Addressing the issue is core. Crisis management is an important part of hospitality PR. This vertical is strife with crisis especially when it is popular. Hence it is very important how you deal with it. If you deal with it instantly in a professional and apt manner it can turn the crisis into an opportunity.
Eg1 |For instance, your hotel outlet is raided. You should have a positive-negative-positive approach to the inquisitive journos bombarding you with questions.
Eg2 | If there is a delay in bringing the order in or the customer’s favourite dish is not available that day, train your client to address the issue and then make a new offer.
Eg3 |There is a lapse in the quality of food and the patrons find a hair in the dish or a fly in the soup. First apologise and remove the dish to substitute it with something bigger and better…quickly !
Manage your expectations from PR |
Sustainable PR will achieve persistent media visibility. We can’t expect a front pager all the time. The expectations should be realistic. Devise your own method of measurable results based on the visibility you can generate. Since there is no standard rule that exists in the industry right now you can put together a method to showcase your results and resulting impact that is suitable to your client and your own agency.
It is a good practice to keep updating and educating your clients on the changes happening in the media and how it will impact their visibility along with educating yourself on new avenues available for visibility so that you are always one step ahead of the constant changing scenario. It helps a great deal in managing expectations and setting realistic goals.
Get Inked |
Quality information should be sent to relevant media at the right time. We should keep the journalist timelines in mind. To do this in a timely fashion a lot of writing and strategizing is required. A good and relevant pitch will always sell. In our business reputation is everything. So you need to form a reputation of good-worthwhile stories so that after a point media would be calling you for inputs instead of you pitching for stories. And it all starts with the first pitch! Get it right!