Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Wooing the Media: Three tips for gaining and sustaining media support

Wooing the Media: Three tips for gaining and sustaining media support
by Allen Cox

You operate a travel or tourism company with a focus on sustainability. Your operating practices support your vision. Your organization helps sustain the environment, communities, local economies and cultures. You enrich your customers' and affiliates' lives. You're living your dream and helping others live theirs.

But is your organization's good work the world's best kept secret?

With sustainability emerging as a fundamental travel and tourism expectation, your message must set you apart and resonate with your audience. What's one of your biggest allies in making that happen? The media—print, online, broadcast and social.

You can gain and sustain media support by incorporating three basic strategies into your operating plan:

1. Craft a compelling message.

You know your organization better than anyone. What's it about? What's the customer experience? What are the positive outcomes of your operation? Who does your company benefit, and how?

The answers to these questions and others should be components of a well-crafted message. They form your image. They attract customers to your business and bring media to your door.

Examine your existing messaging points and get some objective, third-party input. Test it on a focus group. If the message needs improvement, revise until it gets to the heart of your story.

2. Educate your staff.

You might have a crack team that knows your product or service and has the passion to play out your vision. But when it comes to communicating with media, is that crack team struck silent?

Help your team with the fundamentals of media relations. Identify your key messengers and host a Media Relations 101 session. Bring in an outside trainer, or if one of your staff is versed on the topic, conduct a session in house. Then, craft and roll out a media relations plan tailored to your company and budget.

3. Educate the media.

Sustainable travel and tourism organizations are sources of some the most positive stories on the planet. Just as your consumers expect to do business with a company that operates sustainably, they also love to read or listen to stories about sustainable companies—your company.

You have a positive story. Someone in the media will want to tell it. How to make and sustain that media connection is the key. First, know who your media audience is. Do some research to compile a media list: comb through mastheads of industry publications for the right editors and writers, or engage a PR pro that already has a list of your media dream team. Second, invite the media to experience your products or services as your guest (if they can't accept freebies, they'll tell you). Third, master the press release; this can and should be a powerful tool in sparking media interest.       

For many business owners and organizations, how to get media excited about what you're doing ranks among the world's greatest mysteries. Take it from me—a member of the media—there are ways of attaining positive page space, air time or megabytes in cyberspace. Think of it as a courtship. Make that media first date something special and shoot for a long-term relationship. Depending on your prowess (or lack of), this might require a matchmaker in the form of a tourism marketing consultant or a PR pro. Either way, well-executed efforts pay off by making an effective message ultimately resonate with your target audience.

Allen Cox, freelance writer and editor of HARBORS magazine, travels and writes with a keen interest in sustainability. You can learn more about Allen and his work at  

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