The Ever-changing Landscape of Press Trips

Press Trips(1)

It is crucial public relations professionals understand how to balance working with editors, bloggers and social media influencers in today’s digital world. News is abundant, and everyone is consumed with information overload so staying updated on current trends and who is controlling it is key.

Mixing Traditional and Modern Media
Hotels and resorts need money and resources and with the constant changes, public relations professionals need to ensure the resorts are getting their return on investment. It can’t be ambiguous. Unlike editors, freelancers and influencers don’t always have a confirmed assignment with a major publication, but there needs to be substantial information to properly vet clients.

“I can write something using your blurb, but to actually see with my own eyes and to use all of my senses to experience a place produces a quality piece full of descriptive language and palpable passion,” says Michelle Winner LuxeGetaways Lifestyle Editor and freelancer. “The result of a good press trip is exactly what writers are taught to do in their work: don’t tell me, show me. In the end the writer’s job is to compel the reader to visit, taste, see and do, too.”

You can learn more about press trips from Michelle Winner, Jill Robinson and Tamra Bolton at the PRSA Travel & Tourism Conference in New Orleans for their session, Press Trips: The Evolving Necessity.

It’s much easier to vet a New York Times travel editor versus a travel blogger. It’s easier for clients to understand the value of a national newspaper than a personal blog. However, these days people want to hear about other’s experiences because it’s raw and word-of-mouth is still one of the leading ways to create buzz.

We work with travel bloggers, but the vetting process is usually much more in depth than an editor with a confirmed assignment. We start by reviewing their work, checking statistics, social media presence, and if their niche audience works for the client. We need to have solid information to back up our recommendation. For example, a family focused travel blogger would be more appropriate than a fashion blogger at a family-friendly resort.

Newsrooms are Nearly Nonexistent
Newsrooms have cut budgets and many travel writers were the first to go. With the rise of social media, many influencers have been successful in their efforts while others abuse it. Many influencer requests show a loyal following, but lack of interest in a mutually beneficial relationship.

According to PR Moment, up-and-coming influencers think that numbers are what matters and not engaged audiences. Many requests, such as videographers who film models and night clubs requesting a complimentary stay at a five-star family-friendly luxury resort are, solely focused on themselves and not showcasing the destination and resort.

How are you adapting to this ever-changing landscape?

View More: Hammett is a PRSA member and the Public Relations Account Executive at MP&A Digital & Advertising in Virginia. She is a graduate of Virginia Tech. She’s also a member of the PRSA New Professionals and Travel and Tourism interest sections. Connect with her on Twitter and LinkedIn.






Intro to Travel and Tourism PR: Part Two by Kelly Ryan

This week, the PR New Pros blog is excited to delve deeper into the world of travel and tourism with the second part of our “Intro to Travel and Tourism PR” series.  We already discovered the day-to-day life of a seasoned PR professional in the travel industry with Diane Centeno, APR, the director of marketing for SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment in part one. Now we continue with a specific look at the role of the Convention and Visitors Bureau with Kelly Ryan, communications and tourism coordinator at the Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau.

As young PR professionals, I think it is safe to say that a great majority of us enjoy talking, writing and traveling – though not necessarily in that order.  For me, it’s actually the reverse order. 

When I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life (a big question, indeed), my parents advised me to think about the things that made me the most happy, and then build a career around those things.   Interspersed between family and friends, the Green Bay Packers, a well-executed cookout and hammock naps, I came to realize that the time that I was truly happiest was when I was traveling.  I came to find out there are jobs that combine travel with writing (and some talking).  Enter my role at the Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau (CVB).

If you aren’t sure what a CVB is, you’re not alone.  The mission at my office is similar to many CVBs throughout the country—to stimulate economic growth by marketing a destination as a convention and visitor destination.  Essentially, my bureau promotes tourism from both the leisure side (you and I) and the convention side (PRSA Travel & Tourism Conference).  Today, many CVBs are becoming referred to as Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs), a term that perhaps better describes our function.

While many CVBs/DMOs have a similar mission, all operate in a unique capacity.  Some are contracted by the city, some are supported by lodgers tax, some have members or partners (businesses that pay or trade membership to be promoted), some have gigantic budgets, some have a one-person staff, etc. As you can imagine, a CVB operating in a city like Las Vegas would have many more resources available to it than a smaller destination like Eau Claire, Wisconsin (hometown shout out – go Blugolds!).

From a PR capacity, depending on the type of bureau you are at, you will have a unique role.  In Albuquerque, I work on a seven-person communications and marketing team that essentially acts as an in-house agency supporting over 900 partner businesses.   This team handles everything from social media for the destination to PR, marketing, advertising, group tour relations, communications and design.  We serve as an extension of our partner businesses’ marketing arm, not a substitution for it. To simplify explaining how PR works in my office, I will highlight the three things that take up most of our time: 

General PR Efforts

In my role, I support our communications and tourism manager in day-to-day PR and media relations efforts.  I pitch stories, write press releases, keep current on local and national news, work with partner businesses and local conventions on PR efforts, monitor our clipping service, work with writers, update website content, etc.  One thing I don’t do?  Bill my hours.  Maybe you like doing that.  I appreciate not having to.

One thing I really like about working at a CVB is that most of the news that we deal with is positive.  A new restaurant opening, a baby seal born at the zoo or a convention coming to town.  Other than in disaster circumstances, most of the news that we deal with is not necessarily breaking news.  This is not to say that things are slow at the office.  We have 900 partners to keep in mind. 

Imagine trying to keep track of 900 clients.  Exactly. 

Press Tours

Our bureau contracts with a public relations firm that specializes in media marketing for travel and tourism industry clients.  While we host journalists and media outside of these press tours, a lot of time and effort goes into planning several major press tours each year.  Albuquerque is unique in that it really offers something for many different audiences.  We have great food, many outdoor recreation opportunities, wonderful weather, an infusion of Hispanic and Native American culture and many more offerings that attract travel and lifestyle media to the area.  There is still a lot left to be discovered by the mainstream media about New Mexico as a whole, so we feel lucky to be promoting this area.   

Social Media

Follow us! Fan us! Love us!  We will reciprocate.  Social media ends up taking a good portion of the day. 

Of course there are other responsibilities that we have from a PR standpoint, but just like everyone else, those responsibilities change on a day-to-day basis.  I feel it fitting to end this post with a quote by Caskie Stinnett that nicely ties tourism with public relations: “I travel a lot; I hate having my life disrupted by routine.” 

Isn’t that the truth?

Kelly RyanKelly Ryan, communications and tourism coordinator at the Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau, is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison and an avid Badger and Packer fan, serving as the president of the Wisconsin Alumni Association for New Mexico.  She is an active member of SouthWest Writers and is involved in her local PRSA chapter.  In her free time, she enjoys traveling, playing sports and spending time with her Little Sister (Big Brothers, Big Sisters Program).  Kelly was recently recognized as one of Destination Marketing Association International’s “30 Under 30.”  Follow her on Twitter.

Intro to Travel and Tourism PR: Part One by Diane Centeno, APR

The U.S. Travel Association states that travel and tourism is a $759 billion industry responsible for one out of every nine jobs in the country.  PRSA offers a Travel and Tourism Section completely dedicated to PR professionals working in travel and hospitality organizations.  The industry offers an array of opportunities, from tourism offices to restaurants, cruise lines to airlines and PR agencies specializing in tourism communications.  With a projected decrease in the unemployment rate in the tourism industry in 2011, why not consider a PR career in travel and tourism?  This week, the PR New Pros blog is excited to look further into the world of travel and tourism through the eyes of two seasoned PR professionals—first a general portrayal of PR in travel and tourism with Diane Centeno, APR, the director of marketing for SeaWorld Parks and Entertainment, and then a deeper look into the role of the Convention and Visitor Bureau with Kelly Ryan, communications & tourism coordinator at the Albuquerque Convention and Visitors Bureau.  Start your summer off right with the first part of our “Intro to Travel and Tourism PR” series with Diane Centeno, APR!

Taking a line from Kenny Chesney’s song “Summertime” couldn’t be more appropriate this time of year.  “Summertime is finally here, that old ballpark, man, is back in gear.”   However, ballparks are not the only thing back in gear.  Summertime signals the peak of vacation travel for millions of individuals and families in the United States.  From transportation industries like airlines and rail travel, to hotels and resorts, amusement parks and beaches, the travel and tourism industry is back in gear, rebounding as the economic downturn finally starts to show signs of waning and consumer confidence returns.

In addition to rebounding growth, the U.S. Travel Association recently unveiled a plan to create 1.3 million jobs in the industry and add $859 billion to the U.S. economy by 2020 in an effort to solidify the appeal of the United States as a tourist destination for world travelers.  The time has never been better to explore a public relations career working in the travel and tourism industry.  It is an excellent professional path that offers opportunity, challenges and the excitement of working for and with world-class destinations and brands.

I have been employed in the travel and tourism industry for the past 11 years working for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment.  While I started my career in healthcare marketing and public relations, which was an incredibly satisfying experience, when a job opportunity for SeaWorld opened, I could not resist the idea of working for a top-notch theme park that had an amazing brand to proactively promote and communicate to moms and families.  I have been able to build relationships with key broadcast, newsprint and magazine outlets across the United States, dive into social media strategies, work with global communication agencies to promote our brands in key markets like the United Kingdom, Brazil and South America, formed partnerships with area Convention & Visitors Bureaus in Virginia and Florida, traveled for competitive research (always fun to visit another tourist attraction in the name of work) and hosted thousands of media personnel at our parks.  While I have ridden roller coasters with reporters to show them our new attractions first hand, toured celebrities and publicized their visits to our parks and traveled with animals for in-studio TV appearances, I have also been able to develop expertise in the areas of public affairs and employee communications in my ever-expanding roles.

As a new public relations practitioner, you may be interested in what types of PR activities you would participate in while working for the travel and tourism industry.  You can expect to cover a range of marketing communications, crisis/public affairs communications and employee communications to provide you with a broad range of skills and scope of practice.  Promotion of your industry, destination and new products allows a practitioner to develop and diversify skills for integrated marketing communications through traditional media channels as well as consumer-centric social platforms.  Industry regulation, safety and legislative initiatives regarding travel allow the new public relations practitioner to become adept at proactive, and sometimes reactive, public affairs communications.  And with more than 7.3 million employed in the tourism sector in the United States, depending upon your role in the organization, you may also have employee communication opportunities that will help further diversify your capabilities as a strong, well-rounded practitioner.

 The travel and tourism industry has allowed me to expand my professional experiences, and I continue to be passionate about my career.  Maintaining membership in PRSA and becoming accredited have also allowed me to build networks that have helped me professionally, as well as create friendships personally.  PRSA membership allows new practitioners to network with seasoned professionals and uncover opportunities in all industries, including travel and tourism.  There are usually a number of internships, as well as entry-level positions available, especially at this time of year, to explore job opportunities and determine whether your career path will be one following the road of travel.

Diane CentenoDiane Centeno, APR, is the director of marketing overseeing advertising, brand development and media strategies for SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment working closely with the Busch Gardens and Sesame Place brands.  She began her career at SeaWorld a decade ago as the communications manager for Busch Gardens and Water Country USA in Williamsburg, Va., and was promoted to senior communications manager for SeaWorld, Discovery Cove and Aquatica in Orlando, Fla.