Here’s the good news – the theory behind good PR copy is easy to understand. Here’s the bad news – the theory behind good PR copy is easy to forget. The theory is simple: find a unique angle and then relate it to your readers. Many travel agencies, however, make the classic mistake of writing their PR copy by listing the features of their agency. Good writing in a marketing context always talks to the benefits. Even if you do list a feature, you want to couch it in the context of the benefit to the client.
However, to be effective, your press release or article cannot read like an advertisement. Reporters are quick to spot even cleverly disguised sales jobs from business owners. The story must have a unique twist that the reporter will judge to be of immediate interest to readers. Your mission as a good travel agency marketer is to find the “sweet spot” where the features and benefits offered by your agency intersect with the interests of readers.
Let’s look at a couple of examples that might assist you to better understand the process of developing good copy. Let’s say that a few weeks ago, you wanted to start a public relations campaign designed to explain the customer service and relationships your travel agency has over the years cultivated. A press release explaining how many years you had been in business, how large your agency is, where your offices are and a copy of your mission statement to “be the best, blah, blah, blah…” is going to put every reporter in any newsroom fast to sleep. Instead, you need to find a twist on the story that presents a unique angle. Do you have a client that has traveled with you for 10 years? One that has been to every continent? One that is taking their first cruise? One that is traveling to visit a lost relative? These are the human interests stories that can serve to demonstrate the intersection of what you want to promote with what the public wants to read. That intersection is the PR copy sweet spot.
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As we indicated early this week, you can also generate the necessary reader interest by directly addressing current events and news. In each instance, focus not on your agency, but on the benefits and examples with clients and consumers at the center.
An excellent way to properly time your PR campaigns is to take a look at the editorial calendars of your area’s local magazines and print publications. Most publications produce an editorial calendar – a list of themes for upcoming issues- to provide advertisers with an advance awareness of good issues in which to place an advertisement. Editorial calendars give the smart travel consultant insight into opportunities to have local media feature their travel planning practice in an article.
If writing is a marketing tactic you choose to use, commit to it and then begin thinking about what and when.
If you don’t do it, I assure you your competition will.
Exercise: Make a list of your local newspapers, magazines and media. Now, under each outlet, list your contacts. Don’t have any? You have work to do. Begin developing a network of media contacts. If you advertise locally, ask your advertising representatives for introductions. Chamber of Commerce events often attract local writers and editors. Review the articles and news stories of your community’s media for stories you find interesting. Obtain their 2013 – 2014 editorial calendars for story ideas.
Next, make a list of ideas for articles and press releases. Think first of the things that most interest you – perhaps you are a dog lover, a tango fanatic or a coin collector. Maybe you are going to put together a trip for the World Cup or Olympics in Brazil. Fashion article ideas that have a local, human interest and put your agency in the background of the article, not the foreground.