Archive for the ‘Hidden Jewel’ Category

Hidden Jewel judges pick out publicity gem

RiverFly boatRiverFly Tasmania is the national winner in the OM4Tourism Hidden Jewel Awards 2008.

The Awards are for small tourism businesses, each state winner receiving an OM4Tourism website with graphic design and keyword analysis.

As the national winner, RiverFly’s Daniel Hackett gets this plus a Publicity Campaign from PublicityShip.

Among the judges were Getaway executive producer, John Walsh, and Australian Traveller publisher, Quentin Long. These guys know what they’re talking about when it comes to potential media material.

RiverFly has the chance to attract attention for three reasons:


Visual imagery is vital to the media, and Daniel has access to some amazing images through photographer and fellow angler Brad Harris.

Daniel and Brad have produced a coffee table book, bringing together Daniel’s river guiding experience with Brad’s photos – not only will these inspire the media to see the potential in the story, but Brad has agreed to supply some of his images to run alongside editorial. This can seal the decision to run with a story.


Expertise is valuable to the media too. Daniel has experience and knowledge that few others possess, and this is an opportunity for the media to tap into this resource and offer their readers and viewers something unique.


RiverFly has also come up with a different angle on fishing and adventure tourism – bringing the two together to create a brand new experience that taps into what the target audience – stressed out professionals and executives – is looking for. They want to escape – not just for a bit of fishing, but for a wilderness adventure that takes them completely out of themselves and their demanding lives.

Daniel has capitalised on this demand and the World Heritage wilderness of Tasmania’s northern riverlands, using his expertise as the catalyst. The result is a cleverly designed product that is nevertheless infused with integrity.

We are looking forward to working with RiverFly on their Publicity Campaign.

2008 Hidden Jewel Awards launched

Blue starfishThe 2007 PublicityShip Hidden Jewel Awards for small tourism operators were a resounding success, with almost 300 businesses from across Australia registering.

Each state winner achieved between 2 and 4 media stories in their target travel and lifestyle publications, including some fantastic features. The national winner, Ningaloo Blue, received a website, which came in at an amazing Google PageRank 4 after just two months of going live.

Hidden Jewel logo mediumFor 2008, we have renamed the Awards the OM4Tourism Hidden Jewel Awards in honour of our new business .

OM4Tourism is dedicated solely to helping small tourism operators get the word out about their services and destinations.

Each state winner will receive a blog-enabled website from OM4Tourism, plus free hosting, a design package and keyword analysis to kickstart their online marketing. The overall winner will also get a publicity campaign from PublicityShip, targeting national print and broadcast media, plus global online distribution.

And all entrants will benefit from coming to the attention of our prestigious panel of judges.

For 2008, we’re thrilled to be welcoming the Executive Producer of Channel 9’s Getaway travel show, John Walsh, to the panel, along with, Quentin Long, Publisher of Australian Traveller, and Les Cox, CEO of AAT Kings.

The entry procedure is straightforward and quick. Register your interest now and you’ll receive information shortly on how to enter. To register, go to our Hidden Jewel page and scroll down to fill out the form.

Why your PR focus should be on media releases and search marketing

Publicity is all about attracting attention to your business from your target audience. It’s the core of public relations – the relationship between you and your public.

In my experience as an editor and now a publicity manager, the best ways for a small business to achieve this are:

  1. Press release campaigns: sending specific messages to targeted media contacts.
  2. Search marketing: optimising your site so that journalists and your public can find you.

We have just seen coverage in Australian Traveller magazine and The Age travel section for one of our Hidden Jewel winners – Auswalk. These features are examples of how a business can benefit from being linked to an authoritative article relating directly to their business. The content of the feature is likely to draw interested readers – and the recommended businesses are likely to be their first port of call when they decide to book.

So how do you become a source that journalists choose to recommend?

In this case, the Australian Traveller article was a direct result of our May 2007 press release campaign, and shows how a press release can continue to bring results even months after distribution. Even if a media release isn’t picked up immediately, many editors will file releases that contain useful background and links for future articles.

The Age article demonstrates how publicity isn’t always a precise science. While our contacts at The Age did receive the press release, it is quite possible that the feature writer used online search to obtain their information. We may never know because asking a journalist where they sourced their information is something we rarely do – they are very busy people after all.

However, we do know that, increasingly, journalists are using Google to research their articles. I used to do this myself when I worked as a travel writer and editor, and the information and leads I obtained from the sites would then form the basis of my research. The more authoritative and useful the information, and the more helpful the leads, the more likely they were to be recommended in my features.

Assuming a journo writing about walking holidays in each state would use ‘walking holidays Victoria’ as a keyword (a word or phrase typed into a search engine), a quick Google search turns up Auswalk in the top 3 links, below the sponsored links. So it would only take a few seconds to find the best source for this information.

This is why online marketing is important not only to attract your public directly, but also to enable journalists researching on a particular topic to find you. Publish your media releases on your site, along with lots of other optimised, authoritative content, and your chance of coverage increases even further.

So take your keyword analysis seriously – being found by the media can result in a multiplied effect if they include your business in their publication, significantly raising your credibility and your public’s awareness.

7 reasons for the success of our press release campaigns

We have run eight press release campaigns for the winners of the PublicityShip Hidden Jewel Awards for small tourism operators.

Faraway BayThe campaigns continue to run, with more publicity expected later this year, but the publicity achieved so far is worth both celebrating and examining to discover the reasons for the success.

Whenever you experience success, do remember to celebrate, but also ask yourself what you did to deserve it. This is just as important as working out why something fails. So here goes:

1. We worked hard to find a hook for each story. For example, the health benefits of walking brought attention to Auswalk’s tours from a different angle, while Faraway Bay focused on the corporate market to grow that part of their business.

The message here is that just talking about your product or service isn’t usually enough. The story needs to take a new perspective, offer something different or be carefully targeted.

Bookabee2. We harnessed the passion of tourism. This worked wonders for Bookabee Tours’ Haydyn Bromley, whose genuine passion for his tours into the Flinders Ranges helped win him a feature in an international trade magazine.

Our recent interview with the magazine’s editor also draws attention to this quality of passion – something that even the most hardened journalist can’t resist!

3. We insisted on good quality, compelling images. This was definitely a factor in much of the coverage – including Faraway Bay’s stunning coastal camp, Live History’s costume drama, and Bookabee’s experiential tours.

Again, we have heard from more than one editor that images can make all the difference to a decision to publish. For many campaigns, especially in tourism, they’re just as important as the press release itself.

Live History4. We applied writing experience to produce press releases that could be easily turned into news stories without further research or pressure on journalists to completely rewrite the story.

News publications, both print and online, will often run stories that are virtually ready to publish without making too many changes. We saw this happen for four of the Hidden Jewels.

5. We included enough links and contact details to make it easy for a journalist to extend the message into a full feature without too much hunting around. Quick responses to enquiries are all part of that process.

This worked particularly well for Bookabee Tours and Faraway Bay, with features on other Hidden Jewels in the pipeline.

Anangu Waai6. We tapped into the zeitgeist – or spirit of the times – by understanding what tourists are looking for and linking our Hidden Jewels to those wants. For example, Ningaloo Blue and Undara Experience appeal to the increasing number of visitors wanting an engaging and moving encounter with the natural world; and Anangu Waai, Tribal Warrior and Bookabee Tours offer the cultural authenticity that is now in high demand.

The message here is, keep your finger on the pulse of your industry and tap into growing demands, needs and trends.

7. We didn’t give up easily! Some messages will hit the editor’s desk at a busy time or simply get overlooked. Far from being disheartened, when this happened to us, we sent out follow-up messages and/or extra images with friendly emails, and made a few calls to discuss stories with our contacts.

This made a big difference, getting us attention from contacts who had previously placed our message on a backburner.

To find out more about the campaigns, go to our Client Gallery.

Ningaloo Blue and their new look website

We’ve been having a great time working with Ningaloo Blue, the overall winner of our PublicityShip Hidden Jewel Award.  Getting a publicity campaign up and running while launching a new blog-enabled website during one of the busiest whale shark seasons on record has certainly made it interesting! So, here is an update on what has been happening. WebsiteThe new new website at was launched in May. Keyword research was used to identify the sorts of queries that are being used, to maximise the opportunity for Ningaloo Blue to be found. The site structure was redesigned to make it easier for travellers to find out about the different adventure travel options available at Ningaloo.   

The site was indexed rapidly by Google, and has already started drawing traffic on some of the new keywords.  It will take a while to get better rankings on some of the highly competitive travel keywords, however we are confident we will get there.  This is the sort of strategy that will pay long term dividends for Ningaloo Blue, as the cost of pay-per-click search traffic on the competitive keywords is already significant, and will only increase.  

Once strong rankings are achieved, they should be able to be retained on the strength of content rather than advertising spend. The blog is getting good visibility including through Technorati, where it has a blog authority ranking (Technorati), a good result for less than a month’s exposure. The new blog helps capture some of the excitement of swimming with the whale sharks – this year has been a fantastic season, just this week they had two days where they swam with 10 or more separate whale sharks.

Ningaloo Blue are already seeing enquiries coming in via the site, including a query from a New York journalist wanting more information on the whale shark tours, and queries from travellers seeking advice on getting to Ningaloo. This is great news for Ningaloo Blue, who are aiming to raise awareness of the tours in the US and Europe as well as getting a better profile with independent travellers.

Their publicity campaign planning started earlier this year, and has already been delivering results. As a result of the publicity campaign, the West Australian and Sunday Age have featured Ningaloo Blue in their travel news, and the high-ranking global news site,, has expressed interest in Ningaloo and requested information on tours that include Ningaloo Blue’s whale shark tours. Whether this results in coverage or not we’ll have to wait and see, the awareness-raising is invaluable.Please let us know what you think about the new site through email or comments, all feedback very welcome.

The domino effect of online news

Seen yourself in the local paper lately? Feel good? Before you sit back and bask in your fame, check whether the story is also appearing online. Otherwise your content won’t go much further than the paper’s immediate readership.

This might be enough for a micro-business servicing a tight local area, but in our experience, most businesses – whatever their size – can benefit from reaching a much wider audience.

We always submit our press releases to online news sites and post them on our own site to attract online searchers and browsers. There are both dedicated news sites such as and and specialist sites with news sections.

Many print publications have an online version and feed into one another, while broadcast news is becoming challenged by user-generated sites like YouTube – something you have to take seriously if your target audience is within the Y generation.

Getting your content onto these sites will help to bring you higher up in the search rankings more often, and there’s the domino effect that doesn’t come from traditional media so quickly.

For example, as one of the most respected news sites for the travel industry, eTravel Blackboard content gets picked up by numerous other travel sites, spreading news around the industry and the travel community at large. And this can happen very fast.

Two of our Hidden Jewel winners now have their press releases on this site (Anangu Waai! and Bookabee Tours), and it will be interesting to watch the domino effect in action.

So if you’re after the domino effect and your local newspaper doesn’t have an online component, consider a different media outlet next time, and look at specialist news sites too.

Ningaloo Blue and their new site

Ningaloo Reef Whale SharkNingaloo Blue has gone live with the Ningaloo Blue Adventure, their new blog-enabled website. Its peak season right now up at Ningaloo, with lots of whale sharks in attendance. Read Kat’s latest blog entry to get the latest.

The site has been launched in parallel with their existing website. Why have two websites? Well, we will be measuring how effective each of the websites is in terms of drawing traffic, establishing a conversation (initially email subscriptions) and converting readership to bookings.

Naturally the existing website has a head start (the new site has only just been launched, and has been indexed already), so its going to be interesting to see the comparative performance.

Our focus has been on getting the content right. The main objective of the site is to generate bookings for tours. We did some research into where those bookings might come from, both in terms of geography and also buyer personas. Then we did our keyword research, and sifted through the evidence. We know the keywords that drive the current traffic, and we were able to contrast this with new keyword sources.

The site provides a lot of information for prospective visitors to Ningaloo. It also provides a great target for search engines looking for result pages on specific keyword searches. The organic search results will naturally take time to materialise – six to twelve months is realistic. But we have also started triallling some search marketing with Google AdWords. Analysis of the site will be undertaken with Google Analytics and Advanced Web Rankings.

For now, bookings are being fed to the old website. Potentially a direct booking form may improve conversion on the new site, however we’ll get a view on traffic and conversions first.

As a blog-enabled website, it has been designed to get Ningaloo Blue up and running with:

  • Search Marketing (PPC) – AdWords search campaign based on keyword research
  • Content Marketing – blog facility to add ongoing content about the tour experiences, with RSS and email subscription facilities. Ningaloo Blue can add new web pages or update existing pages whenever they want.

In addition, the site is online marketing enabled, meaning it is ready for:

  • Email Marketing – the site has self-managed facilities to enable email subscription boxes to be added (menu bar or sidebar, as well as within a page). With an AWeber autoresponder account, Ningaloo Blue can easily add multi-part emails, for example, to educate about the wide variety of adventure travel opportunities in and around Exmouth.

We’ll describe a few more of the features in subsequent posts.

Can’t wait to see how the visitors respond to it. Please drop on by and let us know what you think!

Revealing the Hidden Jewels of tourism

Hidden Jewel logoI’m delighted to announce the winners of the PublicityShip Hidden Jewel Awards – one of the most enjoyable tasks I’ve had so far as Managing Editor of PublicityShip!

The winners are tourism operators who remain relatively unknown and poised for growth. They all have an edge that sets them apart, offering some exciting editorial and broadcast opportunities, which means they are likely to benefit from their prize – publicity! And they have something extra – passion.

The national winner is Ningaloo Blue Charters, situated on Western Australia’s Coral Coast.

Ningaloo Blue LogoThe Ningaloo Reef is a hidden jewel in itself. Much of it within wadable or swimmable distance of shore, it harbours a huge variety of marine life. Most importantly, it is the only place in Australia where visitors can swim with a whale shark – the biggest fish in the sea – and Ningaloo Blue Charters records the most reliable sightings in the world.

But it was also Ningaloo Blue’s passion for what they do that attracted the judges.

“What swayed us towards Ningaloo Blue Charters was a dynamic and unique experience that could translate well to the television screen. That, coupled with a professional and passionate team, made Ningaloo Blue a standout entry.”

This comment from Alex Ristevski, Hidden Jewel judge and travel series producer for Channel Nine, sums up the essence of Ningaloo Blue and that extra something that is likely to get you noticed too.

The combination of professionalism and passion make for great TV – and this also applies to print media, especially when there are stunning photographic images involved.

Now to the state/territory winners:

NSW: Tribal Warrior
NT: Anangu Waai
QLD: Undara Experience
SA: Bookabee Tours Australia
TAS: Live History
VIC: Auswalk
WA: Faraway Bay – The Bush Camp

We will be running publicity campaigns for all the winners, and setting up a travel blog for Ningaloo Blue to attract more visitors to the region and the tours offered by the team.

Congratulations to the winners, and thank you once again to all our entrants. A big thanyou also to my diligent co-judges: Channel Nine‘s Alex Ristevski, Australian Traveller‘s Greg Barton and AAT Kings‘ Les Cox.

I’ll leave the final word to Greg Barton: “It was an extremely difficult – but thoroughly enjoyable – judging process, since there are so many operators out there worthy of attention. Bring on next year’s PublicityShip Hidden Jewel Awards!”

Getting the media excited

Well, we’re in full swing with judging the PublicityShip Hidden Jewel Awards for small tourism operators.

press camerasWe’ve chosen our national winner – but I can’t tell you who it is until the information on all the winners is released on Friday.

What I can tell you is we already have two travel magazine editors who are pretty excited. And when an editor gets excited, you know you’ve hit the jackpot! We’ve achieved this by creating a story of value to the media.
Now we’re in the throes of choosing a winner for each state and territory.

Other exciting news is that one of our judges, Postcards series producer, Alex Ristevski, is currently working on a brand new national travel series.

Alex is one of those media people who believe in bringing quality ventures into the limelight. He’s been impressed by the Awards entries and is always on the look-out for fresh material, so the new series could provide more publicity opportunities for the hidden jewels of tourism.

Sifting for publicity gems

Work on the PublicityShip Hidden Jewel Awards is seriously happening.

Hidden Jewel logo

We are in the middle of judging the entries and will be choosing the national winner this week. The state winners will be finalised next week, with all the results to be announced on 16 February.

We’ve been really thrilled with the standard of entries, particularly from South Australia and Tasmania, and the large number of quality Aboriginal enterprises right across the country.

I’m really enjoying the whole judging process, although it’s harder than you’d think. The awards aren’t just about what’s new and different. We’re also looking for who would really benefit from publicity. Often this means having the potential for more than one story angle.

I’m not the only one finding it tough. Greg Barton, a fellow judge and editor of Australian Traveller magazine, sent me an email saying, “Some wonderful entries in here. Choosing only a few seems unfair!”

But the struggle is an enjoyable one, and as I’ve been poring over the entries it’s reminded me what gives one small business an edge over another, what makes one more newsworthy than another.

It is about having something that sets you apart, that’s original or that fills a gap in the market. And ideally, you need have a product or service that is constantly creating new stories for you.

This is how business blogs can also work really well. Each blog post can focus on a different point of interest that keeps more life into your business.

So ask yourself: What makes you special? What are the kinds of stories that would make someone want to do experience your product or service? What are the special changing sights, tastes, smells and feelings you offer your customer?

For many people in the travel industry it is their local region that will feed them new publicity angles: e.g. seasonal migrations for animals, the wildflower season, a glut at harvest time leading to more and new products, new itineraries going to rarely-visited spots, client stories of new experiences.

All of those who entered the PublicityShip Hidden Jewel Awards have potential to create publicity, so congratulations on getting your entries together – and good luck!

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