Since the middle of this year, Google has been launching several new ad types that occupy more space on screens. This means less space for organic (non-paid) results to appear and makes appearing on the top of search results more vital. Search engine optimization (SEO) helps achieve this by helping marketers format content so that it moves toward the top of the search engine results page (SERP).

As competition heats up in terms of paid ads and SERP, we believe that content PR – a mixture of content marketing and PR – will play an increasingly important role. PR complements hotels’ content marketing which traditionally seeks to drive thought leadership, nurture customer trust and distributed on owned media.

Content marketing is also about distribution

Content marketing is not just about creating content which entertains, inspires and educates, it’s also about distribution. If a hotel has created a signature dining experience that features an ocean view from Bali’s longest oceanfront infinity swimming pool, it is a good idea to distribute such content through press releases so that the relevant travel publications write about it (earned media) to reach a wider audience.

Ocean-view dining experience. Source: The MuliaMulia Resort & Villas – Nusa Dua, Bali 

Another technique that marketers use to get ahead of the competition is to create content which attracts travel industry media coverage which increases traffic to hotel websites in several ways. For example, it associates content on the hotel website with established publications. For example, if a hotel posts an article on its site about a visiting celebrity chef and a link to the article appears on a popular travel blog, a direct link to the article on the hotel site is likely to move toward the top of the SERP.

Finally, hotel content included in articles on popular travel industry sites has a greater potential to be shared on social media. Content shared on social media provides the hotel with additional distribution channels that also serve as social endorsements.

How do hotels get started with content PR   

So, how can hotel marketers produce content which attracts media interest? 

1) Assemble the relevant keywords

First off, hotel marketers need to know and use travel industry keywords on their hotel website and content to improve SERP ranking and earn more organic traffic. Keywords are the words and phrases which consumers use to research their interests and future purchases via search engines.

While keywords are commonly used words, they are often different from the words used by industry professionals. For example, a hotel chain in Malaysia might consider themselves a ‘budget hotel’, but when searching, people use the term ‘cheap hotel’ instead. Content optimized for SEO would then use the keyword ‘cheap’ instead of ‘budget’ when describing the hotel so that the words in the headline and body copy match the words used by the searcher. This helps searchers find the content they are looking for and can improve the SERP rank of the article’s link.

To find relevant industry keywords, marketers can start by searching on words related to their brand’s positioning in Google and tap on specialized keyword research to build and organize keyword lists.

2) Create a content calendar

Next, marketers should make sure that they are following a content calendar (see the PR Newswire version for reference). Marketers may use content calendars to plan the topics they will cover over the next month or two so that the brand website will always have a wide variety of content for site visitors, encouraging them to return. Content calendars also ensure that key, upcoming regional events and holidays are covered in advance, making it more likely that links to the hotel site appear when people search for information about them.

Overall, content calendars help marketers create content which is consistently fresh and relevant – two qualities which make it more interesting to journalists.

3) Conduct media research

Marketers should also review other industry sites and publications to discover trending topics in the travel industry. These might include information about tourist sites or local food and beverage trends.

As part of this process, marketers will also become more familiar with topics favored by journalists who write for travel industry publications.

4) Build and showcase owned media assets  

After producing content based on previous keyword and media research, it is time to showcase it in an owned media section on the hotel’s website.

This section should include media assets like an image library, themed slideshows, newspaper clippings, and social media widgets which make it easy for people to find and share your content on Facebook, Instagram and other popular platforms.

Additionally, once the hotel has media coverage, marketers can create a ‘hotel newsroom’ which highlights press coverage and encourages social media sharing. The newsroom should also include press releases which syndicate the latest brand news to reach global and regional audiences.

The Newsroom section of Design Hotels’ website is a great example of how a hospitality brand may organize its owned media to make it easier for journalists to write about this brand. There, this boutique hotel specialist has assembled a library of owned and earned media assets, including image libraries and themed slideshows, some of which has been included in articles and shared on social media by leading industry publications like Condé Nast Traveler and Sleeper Magazine.

Design Hotels’ Newsroom

5) Engage with industry journalists

Developing content for search engines and creating a central repository for owned media is a good start, but it is typically not enough to generate media interest on its own. Marketers should also get to know the journalists who focus on the travel industry and plan how they will get their attention. Tools such as the Cision Communication Cloud helps marketers search for journalists who cover the travel industry, including the print media. “The traveling or hospitality experience is a lot about being exposed to fantastic images, and to be honest, I think for really brilliant images, you can only really see them when they’re in print media,” says Kai Simon, Design Hotels Director of Public Relations. “We also pitch stories that consider larger issues, like why sustainability has become so important in Tanzania and how one of our hotel properties supports that initiative.”

This helps to create a ‘VIP list’ of journalists who write for targeted publications and to understand how each journalist uses brand media in their work. Armed with this information, marketers will then be prepared to tailor personalized pitches and be more successful when seeking to schedule one-on-one meetings with journalists to build rapport.

As building relationships with relevant journalists is an integral component of any content PR strategy, you may download the following Media Pitching Manual for additional tips based on insights derived from Cision’s 2019 State of the Media Report.

About the Writer

Jeff Rajeck is a researcher, writer, trainer, and consultant for Econsultancy and Click Academy in Asia-Pacific, based in Singapore.  With a background in finance and analytics, Jeff is a regular contributor to the Econsultancy blog and frequently provides consulting services for Asia’s largest brands on marketing trends, best practices, and analytics.