Kill the Travel Press Release-Tweet it Instead

So I was sitting at a media lunch when I overheard someone from a Canadian tourism office say to her companion that they were thinking of no longer sending travel media releases out. They were going to tweet them instead.

I was taken aback because just an hour previously, I wrote  this article and thought somehow she was the  angel of affirmation.

But she’s right on.

I receive on average 35 travel press releases a day,  in one form or another.

And that’s not counting the Viagra or “grow your manhood” notices. Or the abundance of pain killers offered on an hourly basis. 

If I were a “druggie,” I could get a fix without a prescription, with just a few keystrokes. 

The range of travel releases I get is impressive, illustrating  that there  are interesting things going on out there, from a new chef in some luxury South Carolina hotel to a new spa in a Malaysian resort.

But the point is, unless they're targeted to me, they're irrelevant,  to me.

Unless the Media Release addresses what a blogger or journalist writes about, and unless the releases reflect a working knowledge of  his or her work, including past publications, what’s the point?

Most releases I get are about 400 words. Some run as high as 800 words and are very text dense.

I use maybe one out of every ten I receive.

Many come with unrequested multiple images attached, or/and several PDF files, which I never open.

Of all the releases in any given period, very few address me by name.

Most say, “Good Morning,” or “Hi There.”  That bothers me. If the senders  don't know who I am, why bother to send me a release?

What's worse are the ones labeled: “For Immediate Release.


What does that mean, “For Immediate Release”?

It’s a hackneyed term that’s been around forever, and should be retired.

Because what’s the opposite of “Immediate Release”? “Delayed Release”? 

I’ve actually sent copy back to the sender with the specific suggestion that they read David Meerman Scott’s book, New Rules of Marketing and Public Relations .

Anyone in PR who hasn’t read Scott’s book is really out of touch. 

While most of the releases are irrelevant to me, they’re relevant  to some blogger or travel writer.

In reality, though, my story ideas mostly come mostly from various news and industry feeds that maany travel professionals subscribe to.

Could be the Huffington Post or Hotelmarketing.com. Often an article in Fast Company will be the source of a piece or USA Today Travel or Travel Weekly.

And of course my own experiences with the vagaries of the travel world. 

Very rarely the e-mailed  press notice.

I”m sure there are content providers interested in Gerber Childrens Wear or that the Michelangelo Hotel has become An Ambassador to Italian Glass .

Or that Captain Rynd has just been appointed Commodore of the Cunard Line .

But here are two suggestions that I think might make the Travel Media Release work:

•  Target writers whose work the sender knows, and whose subject matter they’re familiar with, so a content partnership can be created, and articles developed together over a period of time.

And, go ahead, call the writer as a follow up! Have a conversation. You know him or her and his work. 

One release I liked:  “Hey, Kaleel, We’re running this contest on Facebook and using Foursquare tips to generate foot traffic to a destination we want to promote. Can we talk about this? I’ll call you. I know you did a piece like this in....”

She called, and the article came together with both of our efforts.

How about a tweet instead of an email?

• I suggested to one company that instead of a 600 word release, why not send a 140 character “release” with a tiny url, #, and good, solid information.

Since I Tweet to three fairly significant travel accounts, I could Tweet the release once and schedule a variation for a second Tweet.

It could be Retweeted, of course by people who are following these accounts and then again by people following those accounts. 

And the sender could Tweet and have colleagues ReTweet..and reach the public, the consumer directly!

Though emerging technology specialist, Eric Leist thinks the public/consumer would not know what to do with a Tweeted press release.

Still, a well crafted Tweet-Release would, I bet, get more professional and consumer play than sending it to a writer’s email box.

It could reinvent the media/press release. .

Worth a try? Better than,”For Immediate Release,” to no one in particular.

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  • Point well taken, Kaleel. No wonder I've been hitting "unsubscribe" so much lately.
  • It isn't a case of knowing the blogger or journalist "personally," Ed.....it's a case of knowing their work. Having a sense of their interests.
    Does so and so write primarily about resorts, famiiy travel, food.? Has the publicist read the last half dozen articles the blogger wrote so he or she can sense the arc of the writer's direction? Those are your target journalists. Why should they get releases about a topic they have no interest in? 
    Not enough time? That implies that the old "spray and pray" method of Pr is what the publicist subscribes to: spray the writers and pray someone will pick up the release.
    Most of the editors we curried favor with, were even sycophantic toward a few years ago are looking for jobs. Are out of work.
    No writer or editor can afford NOT to take a publicists call or read their release IF the relationship is built on shared interests and specific, targeted releases that reflect a knowledge of the writers' and publicists worlds. Cheers
  • Happy to have you jump in, Kaleel, especially with the remark about not sending attachments Putting ourselves in the publicist's shoes, how easy/hard would it be to just stick with a dozen or so journalists we know personally?
  • Sarah, good questions. I'm not sure many people open those attachments. If you want to include more details after the quickie paragraph, perhaps include it in the email text, but first skip a line and have a boldface hed that says "More Details." Just a suggestions.

    While I'm talking, I should also back off a little from my criticism of Northeast's "outrageous subject line." If it really is funny, as distinct from mere hyperbole, it does get my attention. 

  • Sarah...ur comment was directed to Ed so forgive me for jumping in with my opinion.
    I say send nothing as an attachment...and send nothing to anyone unless you know their work, are familiar with the kinds of content they are involved in, and can, on that basis, form a working content partnership. It's not, as I see it, what one sends but the relationship that forms based on mutual understanding of needs and an awarenes. It may mean stripping ur media list to a dozen writers whom you know and whose work you are familiar with
  • Ed, so would you say a summary paragraph detailing the main points and 'hook' would be sufficient, with perhaps a low res version of the key image within the body or the email?  I often use only the opening who,what where and why paragraph within the body but attach the full version.

    Kaleel, as for phone calls - quite often they are not welcomed by journalists as its very distracting to get scores of phone calls a day from PR's.  Of course if the journalist in question is someone you have worked with often it is a different story. The Tweet release is an interesting idea, I'd be interested to see if it gets picked up more readily or gets lost in the noise of the millions of other tweets....may have to do some experimenting.


  • Northeast, as a writer and editor who gets a zillion emails a day, I'm not entirely sure I agree with your preference for "an outrageous subject line." Sure, it gets my attention, but what I really need is a quick synopsis of what's new, period.
  • Another variation on your solution for the endless press release, plus attachments that nobody opens: Send out releases that aren't as short as 140 characters, but are just long enough, perhaps three sentences, so the writer gets the gist of the news before clicking to the url. An outrageous subject line doesn't hurt.
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