At travel media conferences, there is often an intense discussion in the conference sessions or over dinner (and maybe a couple of drinks) about how the travel PR and tourism writing industry has changed. We wanted to explore the questions further and help build understanding of PR trends in our industry. We hosted a tourism panel at Social Media Camp 2013 to help learn about how to get the most out of online PR.
We invited two panel members, a travel blogger and an editor to share their thoughts with social media campers so we could get differing points of view;
- Tom Gierasimczuk, editor-in-chief of BCBusiness founding editor of up! magazine, WestJet’s in-flight publication and Boston Terrier lover (for the record – it is pronounced like Garrison – gerə-sim-chuk – just like it is spelled)
We asked them Writing or blogging: what matters?
Does a travel writer have to be a trained journalist? What matters more – a well written column about your tourism property in a publication with a solid circulation or a mention on a travel blog? What is the value of tweet, facebook post or a series of pinterest posts from a travel blogger? How do you measure success?
What we found was that their comments apply to any industry and that there is no more controversy – there is agreement that the world of travel PR has changed. The following are the key things you need to know in order to get the most from your tourism public relations.
Big J Travel Journalism doesn’t matter so much
We are taking a bit of liberty with Tom G’s quote though what he was saying was that while content matters but he doesn’t always need a trained journalist. And he considers bloggers to be writers – which is a good thing as bloggers self describe as writers! Outlets, whether print, or online need quality, shareable content and lots of it.
Joslin shared that she believes the writing has to be high quality but that the structure for writing a blog is different format. Blog pieces are shorter – typically 250- 500 words, have lots of images and can be posted faster then shared with a community on social media quickly - a definite bonus for tourism operators. Travel writers in traditional media who can adapt to their style to blogging will have more opportunities to write.
Know the travel writer, know the outlet
Joslin said that if you are reaching out to pitch a story to a travel blogger, it is important to know what the blogger writes about and who their audience is. For example, Joslin writes for a women’s travel magazine and she writes about outdoor adventure in a casual voice. Clearly, if you are looking for a piece targeted for mountain men in Montana, contacting Joslin is not appropriate. She mused that maybe her voice wouldn’t work for the style of Travel & Leisure though her following is highly targeted. There is a place for both.
Matching the writer, their voice and audience applies to bloggers, social media channels, print and broadcast. That is how PR works.
Use Multiple Platforms – It Really Matters
Tom G. said that as editor in chief of BC Business magazine, he has changed their focus from a monthly print publication to a daily business outlet on line with a print publication monthly. Suddenly, BC Business writers are bloggers, have to be experts in their field but also have an immediate outlet for their stories. The ability to integrate and re-purpose stories and messages between print and on line plus across social media and sharing platforms increases reach. If a writer also has their own channels to help promote their stories and build the click throughs and sharing for the outlet, all the better for everyone; the writer, the outlet and the subject of the story. Sharing via Pinterest, Facebook and Twitter all matter to the outlet. It helps build their audience which builds their influence which drives revenue and keeps the good writers writing. And that is a good thing.
As for what matters more – a well written column about your tourism property in a publication with a solid circulation or a mention on a travel blog – the answer is both. They both matter because they are both part of a solid PR and communications plan and that includes back links, social mentions and stories in print. The value of the tweet, Facebook post or a series of Pinterest or Instagram posts is the value of sharing and brand awareness.
How do you measure success? In brand awareness and sales. For more on that – download our travel PR case study here.
Terry Rachwalski is chief digital strategist at the Tartan Group and admitted tweet-aholic as who connected with Joslin Fritz via twitter as @consultingmania .She invited Tom Gierasimczuk not because he is a respected editor and has a keen understanding of marketing, but because he and his wife are Boston Terrier fanatics.