Hotel PR: The News Release Revisited

By Mary Gendron Senior Vice President / Managing Director, Eric Mower & Associates | March 15, 2010

The news release has been around for 100 years (that milestone passed in October 2006), conceived by public relations pioneer Ivy Lee who used it to convey to the media details of a fatal train accident on behalf of his client, the Pennsylvania Railroad. For much of its history, the news release (a.k.a. press release) remained unchanged, taking the form of a written statement of news, facts or information on behalf of a company or a cause.

Typically, the release would be sent via what is now referred to as "snail mail." In special instances, it might be handed to media at a press conference or similar event. With the dawn of email, releases were sent, initially, as attachments, then as imbedded copy. The latter method developed to avoid the possibility of instantaneous deletion by a firewall, a spam filter or a skittish recipient reluctant to open an attachment sent by anyone other than a family member or close friend.

The 2001 anthrax scare eliminated the snail mail option almost overnight (saving countless trees in the process). Since then, the news release has evolved into a primarily electronic conveyance, a development that has caused public relations professionals and their clients to rethink its use and potential for effectiveness.

One thing that hasn't changed is its purpose. Since Mr. Lee saw his release printed verbatim in the October 30, 1906 edition of The New York Times as a "Statement from the Road", news releases have been used to convey news, facts, ideas, story angles, officials statement, points-of-view, trends, information, explanations, retractions, and clarifications. The bane of certain reporters' existences, due to the sheer volume received and, too often, lack of targeted direction, it serves an important role to others, particularly legions of journalists whose organizations are short-staffed and unable to send writers to get the stories that their readers and viewers might be interested in.

Our goal - and yours, I hope - is to better understand how and when to use this basic public relations tool, and how and when not to use it.

Retooling PR's Most Basic Tool

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.