For decades, pitching to news outlets with a great press release was indeed the best way to get media exposure for your luxury hotel. The PR process was fairly simple – hire a PR firm with a great reputation and good connections and let them work their magic. Nowadays, the rules of PR have completely changed. The web is social; bloggers have become extremely influential, and anyone can be an influencer.
With so much great original content, press releases simply don’t pull in the same interest as they once did. Some might even say that the press release is dead. In my opinion, luxury hotels and PR firms simply need to understand and adhere to the new rules of PR, one that includes social media.
Keep it Original
It might come as a surprise, but according to Google, press releases are considered to be duplicate content. Google frowns upon publishing duplicate content; therefore, any respectable blogger who understands the basic rules of SEO will shun your press release in light of original high-quality content.
” The chances of sending out a press release and actually getting your news pickup are almost as good as getting struck by lightning. There is so much noise and clutter out there you’re going to have to change the way you do PR in this age of high paced social media. Producing the same press release across hundreds of sites is going to be seen as duplicate content by Google and most likely pushed into their “omitted results”. Not only that, but if you did include a bunch of self-serving “for SEO” links, and those get spread across dozens of sites you have now just put your site at risk for a penalty from Google.” comments Ryan Clark, co-founder of Luxury Branded and expert in luxury SEO.
SEO is changing as Google and other search engines are keen to eliminate duplicate, low-quality content from their search results. They punish those who try to trick them by imposing hard sanctions. Once you are on a search engine’s blacklist, it can take months if not years to get unlisted. While you spend thousands of dollars and months trying to remove every one of those bad links, your website generates little traffic, therefore causing lost in revenue. Instead of pushing a press release, try to get original reviews.
Sending press releases to gain SEO link is so passé, the same can be said about sending unsolicited press releases to random media outlets with whom you have no relationship. Once again, it might come as a surprise, but influential bloggers get hundreds of unsolicited press releases every week, or even every day. Will they pay attention to your? Unless you play by their rules, the answer is simple – probably not.
Paul Johnson, founder of A Luxury Travel Blog and digital marketing expert with over 20 years experience in the travel industry: “At A Luxury Travel Blog we set out specific guidelines detailing how PR companies can work with us. Unfortunately, the vast majority seem to think the ‘rules’ don’t apply to them and simply add us to their mailing lists to receive all future press releases. Of course, it’s both impersonal and completely ineffective. If they continue to ignore the warnings, their emails just end up going straight to spam, and they completely lose the opportunity to benefit from our site which has a huge reach. The PR companies that are successful, on the other hand, are those that carefully digest the guidelines, adhere to them to the letter and tailor their pitches accordingly.”
Christopher Parr from Pursuitist adds : “Pursuitist is inundated with press releases from luxury hotels and brands. They’re quickly dismissed, as we only write about properties that we actually experience and recommend. Pursuitist fans aren’t interested in reading spammy press release about some package or deal at a hotel. Our readers come to us to for advice. We’re a trusted advisor in recommending extraordinary destinations.”
Getting your hotel features on both these incredibility successful blogs can do wonders for your brand’s reputation and awareness. Therefore, pay attention to the blogger’s guidelines as they each have their own set of rules.
At LuxeInACity, we made the decision to dismiss all impersonal PR pitches from both agencies or luxury brands. We get inundated with emails that don’t provide much value, emails similar to this one:
“Hi there! We are thrilled to announce that…. Please find attached photos. Feel free to contact us for additional information or to speak with …. Thank you!”
Hundreds of PR pitches a month go straight into our archive folder without being read. We simply don’t have the time nor the desire to respond to them. Saying this, we typically always find a way to collaborate with luxury brands that had a personal touch to their emails such as this:
“Hi Roxanne, I hope this email finds you well. Allow me to introduce myself, my name is (…) and I handle content and social media for (…), an innovative hospitality company that (…). I recently came across LuxeInACity and was really impressed by your content, features and beautiful images, especially the 10 cities to visit in Mexico. I’d like to discuss ways we can work together in conjunction with (…). I reckon there are many opportunities to collaborate. Are you available for a quick chat? What do you guys think?”
This simple email with no press releases attached to it resulted in a quick 20 minute phone call and a new long-term synergy partnership.
Now that you understand some of the reasons you are not having a lot of success with your press release distribution, you might be curious to know how to best approach influencers and bloggers for media exposure.
Commission Original Content
If you are new to the digital world, you might not understand why some bloggers will request payment in exchange for media exposure. It’s pretty simple actually. Bloggers have spent years growing their fan base; it’s never an overnight success story.
As you might know, growing a large fan base requires daily content creation and interactions. Therefore, if you want to put your luxury hotel in front of their audience, you might have to dish out some cash. Think of it this way: PR agencies or luxury magazines won’t promote your hotel for free; the same can now be said about influential bloggers. Instead of paying a PR agency to push a press release on them, ask them directly how to collaborate with them. For many, the best way is to get commissioned to create original content. Rates for a sponsored post can vary from $150 to a few thousand dollars depending on the size of the influencer’s fan base.
Invite for a Complimentary Stay
From my perspective, nothing beats getting media exposure from a blogger or influencer who has experienced your offering first-hand. This is the true definition of PR. Apart from getting a great recommendation from an influencer in front of a niche audience, you also get a new friendship, one that can bloom over the years into something truly amazing.
Christopher Parr from Pursuitist explains in more details: “We’ve personally visited the hotels and resorts that are featured on Pursuitist. We can endorse these properties from authentic trips. I rarely take “blogger events,” where a hotel or resort flies in a handful of writers and bloggers. That’s not an authentic visit, that’s an overly planned itinerary with (albeit nice) strangers. I prefer to visit properties by myself, in the company of my wife or with the entire family. It’s a more honest and sincere experience. We take trips similar to the normal affluent traveler, so our experiences are very relatable to our readers. Filming a video is also a big aspect of my visits. I document my stay by filming the property and local sight — it tells a bigger and richer story that resonates with our readers.
We have accepted complimentary visits that have included airfare. We have also visited properties were we covered our own expenses. It’s a fine balance. As we strictly review and feature high-end hotels and resorts, this can be a closely endeavor – so we do appreciate complimentary invitations. We do not accept any paid editorial. However, many have offered. Pursuitist is a curated list of the good things in life, and we want to be sincere to that promise.”
Inviting writers for a complimentary weekend at a destination is a smart tactic, as long as you invite the right type of influencer.
At LuxeInACity, when we experience exceptional amenities and outstanding service at a luxury hotel, we remember it for years to come. We typically include the hotel’s name randomly in various features we write; we recommend to friends and promote it on social media; and we even occasionally pay for a few extra nights out of our pocket money. When a luxury hotel is fantastic, we simply want to stay longer. The same can be said of affluent travelers; they love to share if the experience is fantastic. Therefore, it’s important to offer a similar experience to luxury influencers since they are the digital voice of the affluent market.
Respect your Niche
Although you might be tempted to offer complimentary stays to all bloggers who contact you, like with anything, you must first vet them making sure that they cater to your niche market. For example, although I personally love to stay in guesthouses through Airbnb, my expertise lies in high-end luxury. After spending years working aboard superyachts and as a personal assistant to HNWIs, I developed a keen eye for exceptional service and fine amenities.
“There’s a big different between hobby bloggers wanting free trips and experienced travel writers who know luxury resorts, hotels, restaurants and top of the line brands. While a blogger might have a large Twitter following, that doesn’t translate to affluent guests that can actual afford to stay at a luxury hotel. Instead, seek out influencers that are focused on the luxury niche and targets an affluent readership. I’d prefer affluent readers and travelers, true brand advocates — instead of an irrelevant mass. All luxury brands should go with quality over quantity.
Take Pursuitist co-editor Carrie Coolidge, she’s a trained journalist. For twelve years, Carrie was a staff writer at Forbes magazine, and is the author of six books. She’s a true professional that knows the luxury industry inside and out,” explains Christopher Parr.
Ryan Clark from Luxury Branded explains one last thing about complimentary stays: “I’d be wary of recommending an overnight stay to bloggers unless they apply the nofollow tag to those links because if not then it’s against Google’s TOS and the client can have a manual penalty applied.”
To protect your luxury hotel from any Google penalties, simply confirm with the blogger that a “nofollow” tag will be added to all links. Although you miss out on some SEO juice, the brand awareness and social media exposure received by the featured post will compensated greatly.
Ask for Advice
The majority of successful bloggers do more than just blog. Take us for example, apart from blogging at LuxeInACity, we also have a digital marketing agency – AgenceLuxury. We offer white label services for various luxury brands, creating their digital content and helping them with their social media. The same can be said for Paul Johnson of A Luxury Travel Blog who offers services through his agency The Dedicated Partnership, for Christopher Parr through Parr Interactive and for dozens of other successful bloggers. Therefore, pick a few bloggers in your niche, and don’t hesitate to ask them for PR/Marketing/SEO/Social Media advice. Maybe they can use some of their digital experience to make your hotel’s blog, content marketing, blogger outreach and social media a real success.
In sums, Erin Green, Managing Director of Clientele Luxury Magazine explains it well ” With social media at an all time high most luxury clientele are online reading blogs and online magazines. The idea of a press release verses actual original content with a strong impact on the affluent community can be dramatically different. I would focus on powering through online content with luxury social media bloggers and luxury magazine companies. Start by simply inviting them to tour your Resort” states Erin Green, Managing Director of Clientele Luxury Magazine.
About the author
Roxanne Genier is the co-founder of LuxeInACity (www.luxeinacity.com), a luxury travel magazine with curated city guides, and AgenceLuxury (www.agenceluxury.com), a digital agency for the luxury industry. She is currently on a road trip from Montreal, Canada to Buenos Aires, Argentina and hopes to connect with luxury hotels along the way.