What role does Public Relations play in the hospitality industry?

We all know hospitality is a highly competitive field which thrives to a great extent on effective public relations which is an ongoing process. Being a seasoned hospitality corporate communications professional myself, I understand the importance of relationships with the media that need to be developed and maintained. Hospitality PR is purely driven by these relationships.

To begin with, a serious PR strategy must be formulated by taking inputs and views of all the various concerned departments. The core to success is to properly plan and invest, but ultimately the success or failure of the strategy depends upon the relationship the PR team shares with media.

PR campaigns work best with a 12-month calendar in place where announcements, news releases, and events are carefully spaced so there is no dull period in a year. Media engagement must be a year-long cycle since it acknowledges the brand’s regular presence in media as a trusted source of information, and, also enhances its visibility in the market. Having a calendar in place focuses on the brand generating persistent news.

A hospitality brand must have a contingency plan in place if and when things go wrong. Being in the service industry, they have to deal with controversy at some point, and if it is not handled well, it can cause lasting damage to the brand. It is imperative to have a clear plan in place on how to respond appropriately to negative situations.

PR team must also properly research the right target media keeping in mind the essence of their brand. There are a whole lot of publications out there, but it is of no value to engage with the wrong media. For instance, if you are a luxury hospitality brand, you have to be very selective about the brand presence in niche media only, your brand should not be visible in each and every publication.

Avoid sending any news or press release as a mass mail as a first contact with a media organisation. You must personally call and catch up with the editor to introduce the brand formally. Media takes better notice of a press release sent by someone they personally know.

Most media websites accept content from representatives of the industry, whether that’s a “byline” article or a case study so offer to contribute directly and exclusively to a publication. It benefits both the media outlet and the brand. It gives more content to the media outlet for their. For the brand, it gives coverage and helps build reputation of the brand

Sadly, many a times PR in hospitality is seen as an expense that does not really need investment. Many brands prefer to invest in TV advertisements and more traditional marketing. This is disappointing because PR actually provides a more cost-effective method for promoting a brand/product as an effective PR strategy can result in the greater returns.

Placing stories through press releases, columns and providing the right resources to properly engage with the media will have a superb return on investment, but it needs funding as much as advertising does. It is advisable to bring a PR firm onboard to handle the day-to-day PR requirements.

Lastly, it is important to have a dedicated PR team within the organisation, and one must understand that PR does require a different skillset to an advertising or sales role. A professional with a different set of skills is required who can write a compelling copy and who understands the internal workings of the media.

Ritu Bararia
Founder at Little-joy Communications
A passionate Public Relations and Communications professional with a progressive experience of over 18 years, Ritu is an expert in the realm of Travel, Hospitality and Aviation. Her forte lies in strategising communication plans basis the essence of a brand with a strong focus on media management aiming to create focused visibility and awareness.

Some of her professional milestones include, setting up of Aviation Industry Group for CII, facilitating launch of India’s first Premium Airline – Kingfisher Airlines and establishing the brand in media as the official spokesperson, facilitating launch of Luxury Retail Brands like Porsche Design, Bally and strategising and executing launch of the brand Roseate Hotels and Resorts.

Prior to founding Little-joy Communications, Ritu was Group Head - Corporate Communications with Bird Group/Amadeus India.

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