3 Reasons why media pitching should be a top priority at your destination

You’re busy. Here at Sparrow Travel Media our staff has worked with and for destinations for years, and we know that destination staff is desperately trying to stay atop ever-shifting trends and changes in the way potential visitors decide where to go to spend their hard-earned money.  

But one thing remains constant…  media coverage will bring people to a destination.  A feature in a high-end publication is what gets people daydreaming, it’s what gets them to your website or your social media page so that you can continue to make the sale from there. This hasn’t changed – that’s why there are over 1,000 publications today dedicated to travel and tourism.

Despite the knowledge that media relations is so important, many organizations today are failing at doing it. The reasons for this vary, but listed below are three reasons why media pitching absolutely should be a top priority at your destination.

  1. Unbiased media coverage is what gets people to a destination… not advertising.

Consumers today are just not that interested in advertising. They want to see real stories from real people who traveled to a destination, or they want to read, watch or hear about it in one of their favorite trusted outlets.

Want to see some numbers to back that up? Roger Brooks of the Destination Development Association (DDA) says that 82% of people believe a third-party opinion on a destination, whereas only 15% of people believe advertising… and why wouldn’t they? You decide what people see in your advertising, and consumers know it! This is exactly why TripAdvisor is the number one travel website in the entire world.  People want to know what peers are saying.

The DDA also says the average consumer needs to see a message five times to act on it. This means they could read about it in a couple different outlets, then seeing an ad or two might tip them over the edge to actually going and visiting.

Bottom line is that you should do both, but media relations should be the top priority. The extra good news about this? The biggest budgets don’t always win!

  1. More money for your town.

Of course, if more people come to your town through an increase in media coverage your hotel occupancy taxes are going to get higher, which is awesome.

It also means that local business owners are going to see an influx of money from people eating out, going to various activities and shopping in local stores. All good stuff. But a solid media relations program can also mean that you’re going to see much more interest from businesses looking to find a new location and residents trying to find a new place to live. Now that’s great stuff.

Imagine how the head of a company looking to relocate their business would feel if they could see that a major publication had just spoken about how amazing your town is.

Not only can they use that when speaking with the other shareholders of the company, it’s also very enticing to potential employees to know the place they are moving to will have a lot of awesome things going on. And guess what? More top-quality, employed residents in your town also means more hotel stays and more happy local business owners.

  1. You are the best person to be doing media relations for your destination.

Why does media relations typically get pushed aside or out-sourced so often? That’s the million dollar question, right? I believe media relations gets pushed aside so often at destinations because people are confused as to how to do it correctly. They get caught up in this world of feeling like they need to hire an expensive agency in order to be successful. This just isn’t true, and that mindset needs to be changed.

I think business expert Marie Forleo says it best:

[Organizations] make the tragic error of trying to ‘delegate’ their marketing to someone else. Or worse, they ignore it all together. Eventually, this wrong kind of thinking will kill your business. If you can’t attract enough [customers]… or can’t seem to get enough people to listen to your ideas or message… A mistaken, outdated mindset about marketing is likely the cause. What’s more, marketing is not an area to delegate to someone else. It’s not an area to hire out or entrust to anyone. This is even more true if you’re a [business] with limited resources. Please hear me when I say this… YOU are the best person to market and sell what you do.”

I agree 100% with Marie. It’s all about changing how you look at media relations, and figuring out what YOU can do in 2019 to make this the year that your organization starts effectively doing media outreach again.

And I do get it, anyone who works for a DMO or city is wearing a hundred different hats on any different day –  you’re trying to find ways to make things easier, not add another thing to your plate. But the fact of the matter is: if you can get a good, solid media relations program in place it will absolutely make your life easier and more efficient.

Your media relations strategy needs to be a priority above many other things that may currently take precedence at your destination.