Public relations communication methods that were effective last year or even at the beginning of this year are very likely not going to be practical in today's day. Acknowledging the situation is essential, but the next step is to re-evaluate these PR efforts and figure out how exactly they can be maximized, even amid current events. The present-day media landscape and changing world have put businesses in a difficult position. Still, the good news is that implementing valuable public relations methods right now can help increase brand credibility and awareness, even in all the chaos. Now more than ever, the hotel industry needs effective strategic communication to be able to bounce back from the pandemic and economic downturn. Effective public relations holds power to transform a business, even during these trying times. Here are some key tips for transforming your PR program.
1. Create Relevant and Relatable Content
Any business can create content. Content that is purpose-driven, with a specific target audience, is what stands out amidst all the noise. These types of photos, videos and blogs are what users want to engage with and see. Still stuck? Go back to the basic concepts of public relations. Focus on telling true and exciting stories and have a clear call to action for the audience. For hotels, focus on your unique health and safety protocols, area highlights, and room discounts/package deals along with positive guest testimonials for maximum engagement.
2. Share to All Social Channels
Sharing all content to the various social channels is such a simple step that even seasoned public relations professionals ignore! When clients and businesses land coverage and spread this news on their social media platforms, it has the potential to increase mentions to another audience who may have never seen it in its current form. Sharing is a quick and easy way to leverage content and turn it into something even more valuable. (Plus, this is a no-brainer way to repurpose content!)
3. Develop a Strategic Crisis Plan and Process
It seems as though crises are happening left and right in every industry. For those working in hotels, it's especially important to develop a strategic plan for when a crisis hits. When people book their stay, they want to feel as though they are in a second home. So, if and when accidents and mishaps occur, hotels need to be well prepared to meet the challenge. When creating these types of plans, be sure to keep messaging clear and consistent, so there are no gray areas for customers to try to navigate alone. Make ethical decisions that align with the hotels' core values. Most of all, don't stay silent. Too many businesses fall victim to this common mistake, as they believe that keeping quiet about an issue is best practice. (Hint: it's not.) Companies are much better off when they address a crisis up front rather than trying to brush it under the rug.
4. Embrace the Power of Data
In this digital age, it's essential to understand the power that data gathering holds, and that data can be used to guide PR efforts, too. From measuring website clicks to figuring out where exactly visitors come from, to social media accounts' success rates, data analytics is an excellent tool for strategic communicators. For hotels, social media ads and pitches can be developed and drafted after reviewing the demographics of website viewers. This way, hotels can target the correct audience and be sure that their marketing strategies and messages are served to the right people.
5. Get Behind the Influencer Movement
If businesses haven't engaged with influencers as a part of their marketing and public relations plans yet, they need to have them join the team as soon as possible. Choose the right social media influencers, and they can reach the perfect audience, and in turn, raise awareness, credibility and sales. For hotels, influencers can range from mom/dad bloggers to younger millennials depending on the type of guests that places want to attract. Influencers are an excellent way to highlight specific areas and amenities, along with any discounts or promotions.
It is so important to recognize that old public relations efforts just aren't going to be productive right now. Implementing even a few of these strategies is a good step in the right direction and can help your establishment raise awareness and credibility. The hotel industry has had a difficult few months, and some have even had to shut down for good. Proper, appropriate communication methods and strategies have the power to bring more guests in, and in turn, make for a significant profit.
Melissa DiGianfilippo is co-founder and president of public relations at Serendipit Consulting.