Why Travel Public Relations Must Change

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Why Travel Public Relations Has to Change

In his very successful book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR, social media guru David Meerman Scott sounds the death knell for public relations as we have known it in the last hundred or so years.

In fact, until the advent of social media, public relations hasn't changed much since the 18th century when its use was first recorded. The term actually appeared in 1897 in the Year Book of Railway Literature.

Then and mostly now, PR professionals simply "shouted" their message. Or to use Meerman-Scott's term, they still use the "Spray and Pray" approach: spraying a message by sending out random, untargeted press or news releases, and praying some journalist somewhere will take notice and publish the material.

Unfortunately, the "spray and pray" approach no longer works in today's New Media marketing and public relations campaigns.
Unfortunately travel PR professionals are among the slowest to realize that, as are the schools that train the travel PR professionals.

The "new rules" unequivocally state that untargeted press releases are spam. Period. That's revolutionary, by current travel PR standards.

On any given day, I receive a huge number of text-heavy, word-dense releases addressing me as, "Hi There" or "Hello" or "Hey," or "Good Morning." Often they come with several images and a PDF file attached, and I don't even know who the sender it. Nor do they know me.

My name is not "Hi There." And why send a press release about a destination, property or piece of travel news without knowing who I am or, worse, the kinds of travel content I write about?

Merman Scott asks how difficult is it for the PR specialist to read and comment on a blog or article a journalists or blogger has written, or at least to know the name of the author, and pitch an idea based specifically on knowledge of that blogger or journalist's work.

Some travel publicists get it like Missy Farren Associates in New York. They only send relevant, specific, brief and to the point queries, inviting dialogue and further discussion.

Granted, PR professionals are at the mercy of their clients who often dictate what should be in a release. But in travel PR (or any PR) it's not about getting the boss' face on TV, or a post about the boss published.

It's about identifying and getting to know those specific media people who can get the boss' destination or property on TV or in a post or in a mainstream media article.

The new rules of travel PR are about engaging the media, having a conversation with them and creating a content partnership. Call them by their names and discuss ideas that will excite the public, the actual customer for travel. Create a lasting relationship.

Please leave the "Hi There" to the spammers.

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