Your Hotel Media Kit: Developing Publicity Materials
By Gini Dietrich Founder & CEO, Arment Dietrich Inc. | February 16, 2010
Building a reputable hotel brand goes beyond the everyday service and hotel atmosphere. The real success comes when your brand also grabs the attention of the media. Having a media kit available for inquiries is crucial. Fresh publicity materials ensure relevant information is readily available - on hand and online.
Vitally important is external communication via online resources such as a virtual media room on your Web site. An online media room acts as a quick reference for bloggers and journalists who work day and night. Often, publication deadlines approach quickly and reporters need information after hours and at times convenient to their writing schedule. After a long day of touring various cities, travel writers appreciate the ease of finding critical information on your Web site.
Create and treat your media kit with the same careful attention you devote to emails and letters to your visitors. The purpose of providing reporters with materials specific to reporters is to anticipate their questions, provide images, and provide behind-the-scenes facts and figures of all your hotel offers. Information comes in many forms and it is great to offer options - whether it's a visit to a Web site or a calendar of events available at the front desk.
It used to be that we would produce really pretty, four-color media kits to distribute to media either via mail or at trade shows. It was really expensive and small businesses or franchisee owners couldn't afford to do them. Now it's much more cost-efficient and your Web site is the first place a reporter will look to get information about you. If it's not there, they may move on to your competition.
Although there are a variety of materials your hotel can put forward, it is good to reach beyond basic sales and property information. Think outside of the box and enhance your brand name by going above and beyond with robust publicity materials in your hotel's media kit. Do you know what to include? Following is a checklist to jumpstart your efforts:
- Fact Sheets - Fact sheets include interesting details of your property that may be uncommon in other hotels. Fact sheets highlight information that allow your brand to stand out among the competition. Fact sheets are simple and easy to read for someone who may not know a lot about the hotel business or your property and they are helpful tools prior to an interview.
- Newsletters - Some hoteliers believe that to keep the hotel name ingrained in visitors' minds, they must constantly distribute coupons and special offers. Not true. Newsletters are great tools to communicate with guests. Offer updates on a new lobby or new whirlpool tubs in each room. Not only does this keep your brand name prominent, guests realize you care enough to update them regularly. If customers and clients like what they see in your newsletter, you obtain new subscribers and in return, new business!
- Frequently Asked Questions - A list of frequently asked questions is useful. Basic questions get answered in advance allowing time for journalists to discuss more interesting issues during their interviews and tours of your property. Bloggers and potential guests may find the Q/A helpful as well.
- Spokesperson(s) Bio - The bio of your chief executive officer or other key team members is critical background to prepare in advance. Reporters want to know more about the person they are interviewing so they don't overlap stories or insult the interviewee by rubbing them the wrong way. Bios sometimes spark ideas for new stories as well.
- Calendar of Events - Include a calendar of upcoming events in your media kit. Reporters want information first and they can refer to your calendar of events for story ideas or events they may wish to attend. Guests also like to know of upcoming events so they can plan ahead.
- Recent News Clippings - Recent news articles are a great way to share positive coverage and reviews from others. If your hotel has well-known publications writing about them, include those articles; it adds integrity to your brand.
- News Releases - News releases focus on new developments and new happenings. Besides your company name and logo, be sure to include contact information so follow-up questions are directed to the right person. You never know when a reporter might decide to write about your property. An archive of new releases ensures reporters can access information conveniently.
- High-Resolution Photos, Drawings, and Illustrations - Reporters always want photos and if they're high-resolution and they don't have to pay for them, it means you'll have better luck in getting them placed. But high-resolution photos, drawings, and illustrations can't be emailed. You need to have a place on your site that allows them to easily download what they can use. You also need to have captions and photographer information with each JPEG so they don't have to contact you to get that information.
- White Papers or Speeches - If your executives are speaking at industry shows, create white papers from their talking points. Upload those to your Web site so they can easily be downloaded and used in research for a story about your hotel. You can also include PowerPoint presentations, but they won't be as well received as if you write a white paper from the speech.
- Community Involvement - If you're involved in the community, include information about what your team is doing and what kind of involvement you have. You should have photos of your team working with charities or local community organizations, and provide links to the organizations and to news clippings about your involvement.
- Contact Information - The contact information in the online media room should not be the CEO or the COO. It needs to be a marketing or communication person who understands the importance of a reporter's deadlines. It can either be your internal communication person (this person is not the same as your business development leader) or your PR firm. It should be someone who will get back to a reporter within 12 hours.
- Downloadable PDF - The last thing you should include in an online media room is a downloadable PDF of everything that is included in this portion of your Web site. There is a lot of discussion on how to provide this information. I prefer a PDF in s anew window so it's easily accessible and doesn't have the risk of a virus. If you update materials in the media room, make certain you update the PDF. This allows reporters to download to their machines, read through everything, and then go back to your Web site to pull the high-resolution pieces they need for their story. The sooner you can respond to a media inquiry, the better. Having these materials accessible through your Web site speeds up the writing process for reporters. Be sure all referenced Web sites and URLs are hot-linked to make it even more convenient for reporters facing tight deadlines - the easier it is to write about your hotel, the greater the likelihood for a favorable story.