Archive for the ‘Travel and tourism’ Category

Getting publicity – work your contacts

Live History imageOne of our tourism clients, Live History, has achieved some valuable media coverage lately – with absolutely no help from us!

These guys are excellent at working their contacts – identifying and taking opportunities as they arise – and not giving up.

There’s good advice here for all small businesses. Here’s what happened in their own words:

“It was one of those serendipitous things. We were outside the Cascade Brewery [in Hobart] a year or two ago, when the editor of Forty Degrees South appeared with his camera doing a shoot for an advert. He took one look at us in our costumes and asked us if we’d like to be in the ad. Well, we normally get paid to be in ads but we thought why not? Good exposure.

“He then gave us his card and told us to contact him about an article in his publication. I had to work him like mad and keep onto him, but we eventually got the article.

“He wanted to take his own photos but always seemed unable to come when we had a tour group going out. Eventually I sent him my CD of top quality photos (taken as a favour by a photographer friend of ours), which he went with for the article.

“It has already brought us several clients – and it’s the sort of publication that is around for many months (unlike a daily paper).

“We were also in an edition of The Wanderer (a publication produced by the Campervan & Motorhome Club of Australia), which has brought us many clients. This happened because we took the director and his wife out on a tour the summer before last.

“We always have a debrief after a tour to find out where our guests heard about us etc. When I discovered that he was the director of a motorhome club that had a magazine, I suggested an article. He said he had no writing skills, but I said that I had! I ghost-wrote the article for him and again sent photos. The result was a great article in their magazine.

“I guess it’s about being inquisitive, confident and proactive – always on the lookout for opportunities to self-promote creatively.”

Now it isn’t every business that happens to have journalists bumping into them in the street or walking into their store – but the message is to remain open to possibility. You can invite journalists to experience what your business has to offer, and then work with them to create opportunities.

You will also often find that organisations connected to your business have publications, newsletters or websites that publish articles and news – if you’re not sure, ask them.

And finally, don’t underestimate the power of photographs. It was the photos that got Live History the first article, and no doubt they were a deciding factor in the second. Providing good quality images saves journalists’ time and outlay, and helps to ensure you project the image you want.

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.

Online Marketing for Tourism – Our New Site

Blue starfishGlenn has just announced the launch of our new online marketing site, Now it’s my turn! is another brand new site dedicated to providing online marketing resources for small tourism businesses.

If this is you, take a look at the site and have a browse. It’s designed to help you decide what you need to be doing to get in front of of the rapidly increasing number of online browsers looking for travel experiences.

We have a series of articles, self-help guides and information on services we provide. For those who aren’t sure why online marketing matters so much, start by reading The New Rules of Online Marketing for Tourism.

I’m also encouraging lots of feedback, so don’t hesitate to leave comments, fill in our “Tell Us What You Think” form or email me.

Oh, and if you’re wondering why the starfish – this is emerging as our OM4Tourism symbol. The five legs correspond to the five online marketing tools we recommend: Keyword Analysis, Content Marketing, Search Marketing, Email Marketing and Affiliate Marketing.

All these – and how they apply to your marketing process – are explained in more detail on the new site.

Online forums: a way to interact with prospective customers?

Participating in forums is an interesting activity for many businesses. To take the world of travel as an example, there are so many travel forums out there now that the online chatter is almost deafening.

The good thing about these user-content sites is that they give perspectives from real people who’ve really been there. Readers are also hungry for information. They will search until they find exactly what they’re looking for, and they will read lots of content.

The majority of the chatter on travel forums is from travellers themselves exchanging information, but there are a few travel businesses who manage to make a useful contribution and attract customers in the process.

HOWEVER – it’s really important to understand that forums are meant to be a platform for the exchange of information, and not a marketing tool. If you do add content to a forum, be sure that you are adding value and not just trying to sell your services or products. Entries that are clearly sales messages will be moderated out, and you may even be banned from a forum if the moderator believes you are using it for commercial purposes only.

Think about the readers’ reasons for browsing the forum and you’ll realise there’s no point in posting sales messages – in fact this could even work against you. Forum participants are looking for helpful content, not ads. So if they sense an ulterior motive in an entry, they’ll skim past it.

The benefit to this style of communication with your audience is that you are presenting yourself as a genuine and helpful source of information – just as you do in your blog – which means readers who are interested are likely to check your profile and find out more about you. It’s also a useful way to find out more about your target customers – what questions are they asking, what are their concerns, problems, worries, etc. You can learn as much as you contribute.

Here’s an example of a forum entry from a business that’s written in a clear and informative style, with a straightforward comment at the end designed to raise interest in the business.

Notice that the final comment isn’t pushy, it doesn’t come across as a sales pitch – it’s just informing readers that this experience is available. Some forums won’t allow this kind of comment. But you can still post good content without adding a call to action. Just be helpful, informative and clear and interested readers may well end up at your website. Include lots more helpful information on your site, and they’ll stick around for a bit longer.

A good way to find forums that are relevant to your business is to set up Google Alerts on specific keywords. You’ll find that many of the links that appear in your inbox are forum entries, and this will lead you to the best forums in your area. Make sure you rummage around the site to get an idea of the readership and the quality of the content. This will help you decide whether you can genuinely add value and attract the readers who are likely to be interested in what you do.

Methods that are helping tourism businesses acquire overseas customers

Cable Beach fishingRead about the challenges faced by small tourism businesses marketing to the world – and ways to overcome them – in my new article. I will post in more detail on each of the marketing issues tackled in the article. But for the impatient, here’s a link to the full version: Marketing Niche Accommodation & Tours to Overseas Visitors.

The challenges and solutions come from 12 tourism operators plus my own experience of working with tourism and small businesses in general.

If you are faced with other marketing challenges that aren’t mentioned in the article, if you’d like to add ideas from your own experience – or if the ‘solutions’ don’t cut the mustard for you – please feel free to add a comment to my posts or contact me directly.

Thanks to the following tourism operators for their input:
Sharyn Rogers, Seppeltsfield Vineyard Cottage
Tony & Julie Smith, Rawnsley Park Station
Miriam Cooper, Granny Rhodes & Mulberry Cottage
Jason Miller, Rich & Lingering
Wendy Deighton, A River Bed
Jane Morgan, Cosmos Centre & Observatory
Anne Grebert, Anangu Waai!
Phil Walcott, The Rainbow Connection
Elizabeth Fleetwood, Hobart Historic Tours
Fiona Reddaway, Bright Brewery
Jeff Rivendell, Huon Valley Apple & Heritage Museum
Neil Schults, Prime Mini Tours

I’ll be writing profiles of each of these businesses for our new site devoted to online marketing for tourism – a work in progress, soon to be launched.

Global marketing challenges for small businesses

Earth in HandsI’m preparing an article on marketing challenges faced by small tourism businesses wanting to attract overseas visitors.

[Update: article now available here: Marketing Challenges]

It’s based on interviews with 12 tour and accommodation operators spread around the country, which have resulted in a series of common challenges and possible solutions – many of them relevant to all small businesses.

The solutions are drawn from the operators themselves and our experiences of working with small businesses in general.

Niche or small businesses marketing to a global audience face some real challenges – but also have some distinct advantages in the arena of online marketing. The article will highlight some of these, but before I publish, I’d like to invite you to contact me with your marketing experiences.

You don’t have to be in tourism. The same challenges face most small businesses and we are constantly listening and researching to find the best-fit solutions for these.

The article is currently focusing on 4 areas:

  • Alternatives to traditional, high-cost overseas marketing options
  • Building reciprocal links with other sites to attract more customers online
  • Tracking visitors to your site, how long they stay and what they do
  • Positioning your business to communicate the value of your personalised approach

The article will be published next week, with a series of blog posts relating each challenge to small business in general. So watch out for those and give me lots of feedback.

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.

What editors want from public relations firms

Talk to any public relations firm and they will tell you how hard it is to get useful feedback from a magazine or newspaper editor. It’s not that editors want to be unhelpful or brusque, they’re simply very very busy, and chatting to publicists or businesses wanting to get their news release noticed – well, this isn’t top of their agenda.

I can vouch for this because I used to be an editor before hopping over the fence into public relations.

On the other hand, editors DO want good content for their readers. And whereas most editors are unwilling to discuss individual media releases, they are often happy to give general advice to businesses and public relations firms that are genuinely looking to fulfil the editors’ requirements.

So if you want to know what editors are looking for, ask them. And read this interview with Alan Dean, Editor of Selling Down Under, an award-winning online magazine and blogsite selling Australia to the overseas travel industry.

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