“Why Tourism PR Professionals Should Be Fluent in Social Media”

True public relations roles no longer exist in destination marketing organizations.

If you were to stop reading right now, you’d have enough ammunition to have a conversation with your colleagues and superiors about the role of public relations in the destination marketing world.

I recently led an all-day workshop in New Orleans for the PRSA Travel & Tourism Conference, called “Social Media for PR”. In this sold-out workshop, I was able to share with other tourism professionals about how and why your public relations efforts should be working in partnership with your social media efforts – even though both are sometimes handled by two different people or teams.

PRSA TandT photo

Let’s take a step back and start from a 30,000 foot view, and take a quick look at a marketing hierarchy:


Owned Media | websites, visitor planning guide, social media channels, etc.

Earned Media | public relations, social media shares, etc.

Paid Media | advertising, influencers, etc.

Most public relations team members in destination marketing organizations have tasks that span across earned, owned and paid media strategies. The earned media from public relations is one-third of your media efforts. Think about playing a game of 3-on-3 basketball. Each team member carries an equal amount of weight in the game, and if one of you fails and you fall to 2-on-3, then you’re at a significant disadvantage. In order for your team to win, all 3 of you must know the game plan, and be comfortable in each of your respective roles, knowing that not everyone is going to rebound and not everyone is going to shoot. But everyone can pass the ball, giving another teammate the chance to score!

If you are struggling with your social media teams in trying to find a role for your public relations efforts, here are some pointers:

1 | Earned media is the foundation of all content creation. None of your marketing efforts should be created on the fly. The majority of your content should come from established channels that have given your destination an accolade, award, title or wrote a great story that you can pull quotes from. As a public relations team member, you have access to more articles written about your destination than anyone, so use that to your advantage and share with the social media team to create content. And as a sidenote, your public relations efforts can help create more than 100 pieces of content!!!

2 | All bloggers, journalists and writers are accessible on social platforms. While you can and should reach out to journalists through the traditional ways of desk-side appointments, emails and cold calls, social media has opened up a whole new avenue for contact. Not only can you contact them through social channels, but you get insights into who they are beyond the journalism, helping you craft an even more personal pitch for writers.

3 | Marketing has shifted to content and personalization. In marketing you are tasked with having to send the right message, to the right person at the right time. The same bodes true for public relations, sales, services and social media. So, if we are all following the same mantra, then why are we not working together more?

Remember, true PR roles no longer exist in destination marketing organizations. It is critical that you constantly educate yourself on the changing landscape of tourism marketing so that you can always remain a valuable team player.


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