Public Relations (PR) is the practice of managing the flow of information between an individual or a company and the public.
Put simply, PR is about the ongoing process of always trying to present your company in the best possible light, as far as the general public is concerned. It is also about the practice of protecting as well as enhancing the reputation of any particular organization/firm or for that matter any individual. In today’s world of fierce competition and social media, where every travel agent strives hard to work on its brand image, public relations is more relevant than ever before. It is essential for every organization to communicate well with its public/target audience. Public relations may include a company or individual gaining exposure to their audiences using topics of public interest and news items that do not require direct payment. Common activities include speaking at conferences, winning industry awards, working with the press, and employee communication.
- Start a blog
Establish your authority or expertise by dispensing little nuggets of advice to intending travellers without actually trying to sell them anything. Don’t go into too much detail — just enough to establish that you know what you’re talking about with the inference being that one would do well to have your company looking after their travel arrangements or advocating on their behalf.
- Approach a radio station
Offer to do a weekly/monthly ‘spot’ for thirty minutes where you discuss various aspects of international travel, be it up and coming resorts or destinations, common mistakes that travellers often make when planning their trip or indeed anything that you feel might be relevant to a travel-hungry audience. Radio station programmers have a lot of ‘air-time’ to fill each week and you’d be surprised at how easy it often is to get approval for such a suggestion. The same principle applies with regard to local or regional newspaper titles or free sheets. Publishers always welcome the opportunity to fill those column inches with relevant or interesting content. Be prepared to sell yourself by writing your own articles. Local media are more than happy to print because they don’t have to write it themselves! An interesting article is great free publicity.
- Think of your plan of attack
Figure out who you want to reach, and why; when you want to reach them; and how to measure success, or how you will know if your plan is successful. Successful PR is all about targeting the right sources. The more targeted you are, the more successful your chances are of getting a journalist to respond to your pitch.
- Do a press release
Get into the habit of generating regular press releases and submitting them to your local newspaper. It might be about a new member of staff who has just joined the company or a fam trip that one of your staff has just returned from. Deliver your message in a short media-friendly way. Be brave and whenever you see something to comment on, just send an email.
- Include your website address
Always include your website address on all your press releases and promotional materials. By having your website address on your promotional materials, especially when it can be viewed online, you are driving traffic to your business and making it easy for readers to click.
- Generate articles
Generate articles that people care about. There has to be more to your message than: I’m here; come buy my product. Your PR efforts should be engaging and interesting to audiences, because an engaged audience member is more likely to pay close attention to your communication efforts.
- Word of mouth
Provide an exceptionally good service and your customers will love it and talk about it. Word-of-mouth is still one of the most powerful PR tools, and with the significant advances in communication technologies, no business can afford to have a bad reputation. If you offer a professional and efficient service, clients will recommend you to others, and there is no PR tactic that’s more effective.
- Join the chamber of commerce
Join your local chamber of commerce, if there is one in your town/locality. A chamber of commerce is a means for businesses to work together to look out for their common interests. These societies advocate on behalf of the local business community. Apart from promoting your own business interests by getting involved, this is an excellent way to network.
- Sponsor and get exposure
Sponsor an event, local team or deserving charity. It might even be possible to do it in conjunction with one of your suppliers who will also be glad of the additional exposure and public goodwill. Your sponsorship (or co-sponsorship) might take the form of a free draw for a holiday. Alternatively and budget permitting, you might consider sponsoring jerseys for a local boys or girls’ GAA, soccer, hurling ore basketball team. The only limitation on the possibilities here is your own imagination. Sometimes you have to spend a little money to make money, and sponsoring an event or supporting a charity through your business is a great way to get your name out there.