By Melissa DiGianfilippo

The hospitality industry can be intensely competitive, so getting noticed by the public (or not) can make or break your hotel. The problem is getting attention for the right things and in ways that provide a solid ROI. That’s where a public relations strategy and plan for your brand comes into play.

Public relations is less expensive and often far more effective than traditional advertising, but the most significant obstacle is engaging with the media. Without the media, your story is less likely to reach the public. From travel bloggers and influencers to reporters, writers, and other media professionals, here are a few tips on how to make them all crazy about your hotel, motel, B&B, or resort.

1. Help media professionals with their job. The media is always looking for story ideas. Keep them up to date on current trends and happenings within the industry, and you’ll quickly become a preferred expert source. Personalize your pitches and communication with them and make it easy to understand (think headlines and bullet points). Make sure it’s a breeze for them to get in touch with your designated spokesperson and to get information from your sources. Also, keep in mind that exclusivity matters to journalists and can be a huge draw. Almost as important is being readily available when a journalist wants to do a story. The biggest mistake you can make in pitching a great angle, the journalist reaches out and wants to coordinate an interview and your source is not available for two weeks. The most successful brands are available on the fly and end up being a consistent resource to key media all the time.

2. Go for a non-traditional media approach whenever possible. Host a media dinner, a VIP event, or an exclusive tour. These breaths of fresh air grab the media’s attention. Now you have the chance to show off your hotel and your brand on a different, personalized level!

3. Have a crisis management plan and process in place. A crisis is inevitable, so be prepared for BEFORE it hits. Again, what matters most is that you create this plan BEFORE you need it. From viral comments and criticism — a quick, well-planned, appropriate response can make a real difference with the perception of your brand with the media and the public. When the time comes for you to convey your message, go to reporters that you know and trust to share it. Not sure how to do this? Contact a good PR company.

4. Target the right people and tailor your content to them. Sure, this is something you can do on your own, but this is where a good PR company offers real value to you. PR professionals know which journalists cover your industry and have relationships with local, regional, and national media, so it’s far easier for them to secure media placements. However, it’s not entirely impossible to do on your own. Media personnel contact information is readily available online. Search for their contact information and send them your ideas!

5. Are they influencers, bloggers, broadcast, or print journalists? It matters. This goes well beyond merely pitching the right angle to the right person. Depending on the platform of the media person, you will need the appropriate content to accompany the information you are sending them. For example, sending a video highlighting new amenities to a print magazine would be a huge mistake as they can’t use it in their publication. Send them photos with photo captions. Those they can use!

Take note of these tips. Use them, and you’ll have the media swooning over your destination like it’s peak season every day. Finally, if all of this seems overwhelming, don’t be afraid to ask for professional help. While you may think it’s expensive, you will quickly find out that professional expertise is well worth your investment and pays for itself. No matter what you do or how you do it, get out there, and share your story.