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Public Relations for Tourism: Crafting Your Unique Strategy

Establishing a good reputation is crucial to running a tourism business, as is generating ongoing positive publicity to maintain your brand’s reputation. Think of it this way, as more people become aware of your tourism business, the potential of turning them into customers increases.

That’s where having a solid Public Relations Strategy comes into play.

In this Blog Post we cover:

What is Public Relations?

Public Relations (or PR as commonly known) is the strategic communication from your tourism brand to the public. Communication required to nurture your public image and/or respond to public discussion.

Simply put – it’s managing publicity!

Earned Media

PR falls under the banner of Earned Media, which is organic as it is usually content created by others (that you have not paid for). In many ways, it is the online equivalent of word-of-mouth endorsement.

Earned media is vital in any marketing strategy because it is more trusted than any media your company has created. According to a Nielsen study, 92% of consumers trust earned media. So, when your tourism business gets featured in magazines, news publications, websites, blogs, and other media outlets – it simply increases people’s confidence in your tourism offering.

The main difference between publicity and advertising is that adverts are paid for, while PR is earned and secured through specific tactics and strategies.

“Advertising is what you pay for; publicity is what you pray for.” – unknown.

When most of us think of PR, we generally think of generating publicity through traditional media channels such as TV, radio and print. Yet, PR has expanded beyond these platforms and now includes amplifiers such as user-generated content (UGC), social shares, review sites etc.

NOTE: The industries which produce news and entertainment content for the mass media are often called “the media” (in much the same way the newspaper industry is called “the press”). And the media is still a core ingredient in building a solid public relations strategy.

And that brings us to…

Media Relations

‘Media relations’ or ‘media outreach’ involves building functional relationships with media outlets to gain editorial coverage – publicity.

A positive media endorsement can be a powerful tool of persuasion. It is effectively a word-of-mouth recommendation, and it’s a far more organic and cost effective way of building credibility and heightening brand awareness.

It also has the added advantage of communicating a greater depth of information than what may be in an advert.

Digital Vs Traditional Media

The media landscape has changed considerably over the past 50 years. It may be delivered through various mediums, including print, broadcast and online platforms.

Where once there was a very defined line between the two traditional forms of media – print & broadcast, nowadays, these traditional media outlets have incorporated digital online platforms also.

A WIN for all involved, as the reach is much farther than just one type of medium.

The Three Types of Media

When crafting your tourism public relations strategy, it’s vital to incorporate the three media types. Even though these media types are intertwined and use both online and offline channels, the standard definition is:

1. Print

Print is broadly considered traditional media, such as newspapers and magazines. However, the vast majority of print media outlets also offer an online format.

2. Broadcast

Broadcast covers the once traditional mediums of television and radio and offers online formats.

Television consists of commercial stations, including non-commercial organisations such as ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), and pay or cable television such as Foxtel. These stations present information through several programs, such as news, current affairs, lifestyle and travel, documentaries, dramas and comedy.
Radio consists of commercial, non-commercial and community radio stations. Listeners to online radio and podcasts are steadily increasing.

3. Online

Online refers to media content that is on the internet. It doesn’t just cover social media, bloggers or influencers. But as we’ve seen above, it may also incorporate Print and Broadcast.

Search Engine Optimisation

Because of the now everyday use of the online space with PR, it also assists with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) which is the practice of positioning your website to rank higher on a search engine results page (SERP) to receive more traffic. The aim is typically to rank on the first page of Google results for search terms (keywords or phrases) that mean the most to your target audience.

SEO covers 3 distinct areas:

  • On-page
  • Off-page Optimisation
  • Technical Optimisation

3 Types of SEO

Public Relations vs Marketing

Traditionally, marketing and PR were very defined specialties. But with the advent of the digital world, the lines can become blurred. So it’s best to think of it this way:

  • Marketing concentrates on promoting and selling a specific product.
  • Public Relations focusses on maintaining a positive reputation for a company as a whole.

Realistically in 2023, you can’t market without doing a little PR, and you can’t do PR without a bit of marketing. 

Benefits of Public Relations

PR is a powerful tool to enable your tourism brand to reach its business objectives and build a strong image and presence. However, like most, you may need clarification on the full benefits and what it can do.

Having a solid Public Relations Strategy and incorporating it with your marketing mix can help you to:

1. Build Brand Awareness

Getting your tourism name in the media will dramatically increase brand awareness. PR enables your business name to get out into the wider public consciousness and inform the public about what you do, why you do it, and why you’re the best at what you do.

2. Boost Credibility

Customers expect a business to toot its own horn and say they are fantastic – it’s a given. However, having any form of third-party validation goes a long way as a word-of-mouth endorsement.

Third-party endorsements are a great way to establish your tourism business’ reputation and build confidence in your audience to purchase. It’s part and parcel of having positive media coverage. After all, the media will only choose to run stories they think their audience would find interesting, which ultimately lends credibility to your tourism business.

3. Generate Website Traffic

Like any form of marketing, all roads should lead back to your website. As mentioned, the media now use online channels, so any media coverage significantly increases branded searches on Google.

Increased branded searches are only natural, as people want to learn more about your tourism business after seeing it in the media. Similarly, you may also notice an increase in your social media following. The right media coverage can generate an influx of traffic to your website, increase your social media engagement and boost your SEO rankings.

4. Save on Advertising Spend

Generating publicity via a well-executed PR campaign can help a business save money on advertising costs because you no longer need to build that brand awareness.

So, PR is excellent at building brand awareness, generating website traffic via off-page search optimisation, adding credibility to your tourism offering and reducing costs. Now that is a massive WIN for any business.

5. Crisis Management

In the travel industry, adverse events can always happen. It’s wise to be prepared to tackle these situations, which is where a PR strategy can help. A PR strategy foresees potential dangers to your image and prepares for negative publicity by creating effective statements and messaging. While it is not possible to eliminate the likelihood of negative PR, it is possible to prepare for counter-action should it occur.

Steps in Crafting a Solid Public Relations Strategy

The most critical step to creating long-term PR results is to develop a PR strategy.

A PR strategy will help you organise your PR activities and make strategic decisions around communicating in the best way. It will also help you use the stories in your business to draw in your target audience, increase your profile, and build brand awareness.

The PR landscape is somewhat different with the advent of the internet, so the scope of practice has been slightly adjusted. Still, there are proven steps in crafting a Public Relations Strategy, and these steps include:

Step #1 – Set your objectives

Whether you want to attract media attention to generate brand awareness or inform the public about your latest news, deciding what objectives you want to achieve first helps determine your strategy.

Objectives may include:

  • Build new product awareness.
  • Create interest in a tourism offering.
  • Provide information.
  • Stimulate demand.
  • Reinforce the brand message.

Step #2 – Create measurable goals

Now that you have your objective, you can set clear, measurable goals to ensure that your PR strategy is effective. The right SMART goals can make or break your PR strategy, especially in a world that is increasingly focused on data-driven outcomes.

Goals are just a way of breaking your objective into measurable chunks. Goals should be highly specific and time-bound while being aligned tightly with the desired results created by your objective.

Step #3: Identify your target audience

Consider your target audience when crafting your PR strategy or distributing content to gain earned media attention. Is your target audience a unique interest group, local, state, national, or global? Understanding your target audience will determine which media channels you wish to connect with.

Step #4: Choose your channels & tactics

Once you understand your target audience, choosing the tactics and channels you wish to use becomes more manageable. Suppose you know your target audience is an interest group of mountain adventurers. In that case, you can only pitch your story to the media in that space.

Step #5: Be prepared

Creating a PR campaign is only possible if you are prepared for the media to get back to you with questions or need imagery. Having your Media Kit organised in advance will help you manage these requests. Not only will you look prepared to the media, but they will appreciate you not wasting their time.

Step #6: Share on your social channels

Toot your own horn and add the media coverage to your social channels.

Step #7: Measure your results

As with all marketing, advertising and promotion – measure your results. You will have already set your goals, so now is the time to see if you met or surpassed your goals.

Why a Media Release

Also known as a Press Release, this is still an effective tool for driving publicity. Media Releases are often the first thing that comes to mind when considering public relations. They are a tried and true method and are often very successful in getting media coverage.

A Media Release should capture the journalists’, producers’ and editors’ attention so much so that they request to do an interview or write an article on you or your business.

FURTHER READING: Download our Essential Media Release Guide + Template

That’s why your media release needs to stand out and get attention. The Media receive hundreds of media releases a day. Most of them are entirely unrelated to their journalistic area of interest.

So crafting a well-written media release is only a tiny part of the process. Another area to ensure great publicity is targeting key media related to your target audience and being prepared.

And that includes an up-to-date Media Kit.

What to Include in Your Media Kit

A fundamental element of a PR is a media kit with the necessary promotional materials for the media to use. It should give media representatives a thorough background on the topic, company, and spokesperson and provide information in various formats.

A media kit in either hard copy or electronic format and could include the following:

  • Current media releases and fact sheets about your business and products.
  • A backgrounder on your company’s history.
  • Recent awards.
  • Product and biographies.
  • High-resolution images (either on USB or downloadable via a link) of products, company logo and key executives.
  • Media contact information.

The media receive a large amount of content, so anything that will make yours stand out will give you an advantage.

Make PR a Part of Your Tourism Marketing Plan

As you can tell, there’s a lot involved in getting positive media coverage for your tourism business. Still, take the time to do these things and commit to gaining positive media coverage. Your PR will grow exponentially, and ultimately so will your bookings.

Tania Shirgwin

Tania Shirgwin

Founder + Head Consultant

Tania is a marketing strategist specialising in tourism, wine and hospitality marketing. As founder of Decant Digital (formerly bizeez communications), Tania’s unique role over the past 14 years has enabled her to follow her passions of travel and her marketing obsessions of strategic marketing planning, consumer-focused web development, search optimisation, and training. With over 80 customised websites built to date, successful event marketing campaigns and new business branding, Tania’s wealth of experience ensures businesses continually increase website traffic, direct bookings, and sales via proven marketing tactics.

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