Destination PR is Evolving – Are You Keeping Up?

Topics: Public Relations

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I don’t tell a lot of people this secret about myself, but one of my favorite moments of the day comes at the supermarket checkout.

I love it when the display on the card-reader looks over my debit card and flashes “Approved.” Maybe it’s not a lot of validation, but these days I’ll take about any kind words that I can get.

I felt that way, too, when I studied the newest research from the tourism practice of Development Counsellors International.

DCI talked to a whole bunch of travel journalists — at The Abbi Agency, we love travel journalists — and the survey found that travel writers are saying that they rely on good public relations professionals more than ever.

Where PR Pros and Travel Writers Connect

For starters, the DCI study asked travel journalists how they come up with their story ideas. More than half of U.S. travel journalists said they rely on publicists for story ideas, and the power of the pitch has gained strength since DCI did a similar study back in 2014.

We spend a lot of time at The Abbi Agency developing story ideas, then shaping them specifically to grab the attention of an individual travel journalist. It’s good to know that we’re on the right track.

The Abbi Agency was among the first to see the possibilities of social media as a tool to link publicists, destination marketers and travel writers. So we weren’t surprised that the DCI survey finds that social media continues to build momentum as a source of ideas for travel journalists.

We were slightly surprised, however, to see that Instagram is growing rapidly as a source of article ideas. It’s now the third-most referenced source for story ideas among travel writers (lagging Facebook, but closing the gap on Twitter). Three years ago, DCI says, hardly any travel writers were using Instagram. If you’re a numbers person, DCI says the increase in Instagram use since 2014 totals 92 percent. If you’re a words person, it says destination marketers and their PR firms need to be very sharp with Instagram to stay ahead of the pack.

The study showed that The Abbi Agency is on the right track, too, with all the time we spend building relationships with travel journalists. Nearly 95 percent of travel writers surveyed by DCI said they prefer to receive story pitches via e-mail. We’ve learned through years of experience we can get the e-mail addresses that matter for writers — the real personal address, not those dopey info@someoutfit.com — only as the result of patient relationship-building.

Carefully shaped pitches delivered to the right address get opened.

We Catch Eyes, They Catch Flights

Here’s another way to get travel writers to open e-mails: The DCI survey finds that the words “Press/FAM trip” in an e-mail subject line grab the attention of travel journalists. All-expenses-paid trips always will be a hit.

But the survey finds, too, that travel writers want to dig deep during a press trip to a destination. Ideally, U.S. writers want to spend four days at a destination, and they expect to spend a significant amount of their time on research.

That tells me that destination marketers will be working closely with public relations professionals — particularly PR firms with expertise in travel marketing — to ensure that travel journalists get the information they need and use their time effectively during a press trip.

One of the best ways to meet the needs of travel journalists, the DCI survey found, is through a good online pressroom. Journalists said they especially appreciate professional quality photos and images, and well-crafted press releases also are useful.

That’s the sort of work we’ve been doing for our destination-marketing clients for years, and it’s good to know that we’re making a real difference for our clients and the travel writers who come for a visit.

We’re engaged in relentless self-improvement at The Abbi Agency, and we’ll always be looking for better ways to deliver our public relations services.

Still, it was nice that the DCI survey confirmed the strategies that we’ve been putting to work for destination marketers for years.

Approved, indeed.

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