July 5, 2018

Lessons from The Big Easy

Tips for Today’s PR Pros

As our airport transportation neared the hotel it was clear this was not your average conference setting. Vacationers young and old spilled out of the bars onto the streets carrying oversized drinks to quench their thirst.

Abruptly our driver stopped and said, “Can’t go any further, Bourbon Street is closed to cars.” As the thermostat approached 100 degrees, we grabbed our bags and weaved through the crowds to check in to the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) annual Travel and Tourism conference in New Orleans.

Held in an incredible city filled with history and culture, the conference featured travel writers, editors and destination marketing reps from across the country. After four days of keynote presentations, interactive discussion and networking (not to mention all the culinary creations and libations ones could want) I have three PR tips (and some fun ideas) to share:

1. Take the time to be creative and employ it in all you do.

  • Find new opportunities to reach your audience. In other words, play where your competitors aren’t. For example, half of U.S. homes listen to podcasts. That’s over 60 million homes (Nielsen Q3 2017 Podcast Insights) and advertising remains very cost effective.
  • Pool your resources to stretch your advertising budget. Create a co-op campaign with similar businesses (who aren’t competitors) who can help extend your reach. For example, smaller destinations can appeal to influencers or travelers looking to visit an entire region or state.
  • Think bigger. How can you use your channels to support a charitable cause? In the aftermath of the devastating Northern California wildfires, Visit California honored first responders and supported the recovery with a “Grateful Table” event. The fundraiser demonstrated the community’s resilience and tastefully shared (pun intended) that the region was on the road to recovery.

2. Rely on the truth, don’t try to “overtell” your story.

  • Embrace who you are. JayRay helped Visit KentWashington’s most diverse city (2017 WalletHub study)highlight a local nonprofit helping immigrants and refugees bring a taste of their culture to the community.
  • Put a new spin on something old. If your message or event isn’t unique, find a new way to tell the story. In Old Forge Pennsylvania, local pizza has a style and flavor all its own. Carving out a unique identity in pizza resulted in national coverage in USA Today.

3. Think about how your product or service affects people.

  • Use emotion to tell the story. JayRay helped the Tacoma South Sound Sports Commission connect with the sports community by finding and sharing the story of sports “ambassadors.” Each ambassador contributes to the local sports culture and is an inspiration for the community. 

What communication lessons have you collected on your travels this year? Tweet us @JayRayAdsPR.