Recently, I have been writing about hotels. And, unfortunately, I’ve also had to try and source photos of hotels to go with the stories. If anyone wishes to repeatedly run into mindless idiocy, I thoroughly recommend this.
For hotels, however, I thought it might be useful to put together a guide to dealing with journalists who make requests for information or pictures that will give you cost-free publicity. Unless, of course, you’re not interested in free publicity for your hotel, in which case ignore the following.
You have a clearly-labelled and easily-found ‘press’ or ‘media’ section on your website. This section includes several instantly downloadable high-resolution images that don’t require filling in forms or waiting for approval. It also has all the media kit information you might give to a journalist staying at the hotel, in an easily downloadable or copy-and-pastable format.
There should also be the contact information for the specific person at the hotel who deals with media enquiries. It should have the direct phone number, and direct email address – not the hotel reception number and a generic info@ email address that any employee can access.
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From a journalist’s perspective, the quicker they can get the information and images, the better. The fewer hurdles, and less hassle, the better.
This isn’t just a laziness thing – it can mean the difference between getting coverage and not getting coverage. Sometimes there just isn’t time to faff around exchanging emails, getting approvals, waiting for the correct media contact to get back in the office or hope the new receptionist with no idea about marketing forwards the email on.
It’s often the case that unless information or pictures can be sourced within a few hours, the story cannot run. Or, if it can run, it will run with different hotels included in it – the ones that information and pictures could be sourced from. More than likely, that’s a rival hotel in your area getting free publicity instead of you.
The following errors are ones I encounter time and time again. It’s in your interests as well as mine to avoid them.
Useless press section: The press section of your website just shows coverage you’ve had in the press, and doesn’t give any contact details for media. How do you expect the journalist to find the right person to talk to?
No designated media contact: Someone at the hotel should be in charge of handling media enquiries. They might not get many, but it should be part of someone’s remit. More to the point, everyone at the hotel should know whose remit that is part of so they can efficiently pass on messages.
Generic contacts: From my experience, any email sent to an info@ email address doesn’t get dealt with or responded to. Because the question is outside the remit/ experience of the person who first reads the email, it falls by the wayside. The same applies to web contact forms.
Sending low resolution images: If you do not understand what a high resolution image is, you shouldn’t be in charge of handling media enquiries. Either research it and make sure you fully understand it, or pass the task on to someone who does. For print publishing, images need to be high quality. The rule of thumb is that a 1.5mb jpg file size is the absolute bare minimum you can get away with – any lower and it’s essentially unusable. It’ll come out grainy and pixelated.
Taking too long: Leave responding a couple of days, and it may be too late. This is why it’s best for the journalist to be able to get the information/ photographs without talking to anyone from the hotel. If the media contact is away, or doesn’t get round to approving requests for a few days, the deadline may pass. That’s why it’s best to upload everything that might be needed, so that it can be downloaded without having to seek approvals.
All content copyright David Whitley.