PR vs. Ad­ver­tis­ing: Which is Best for Hos­pi­tal­ity Start-Ups?

Tourism Tattler - - EDITORIAL - By Jen­nifer Nagy. About the au­thor: Jen­nifer Nagy is the Pres­i­dent of JLNPR Inc – a full-ser­vice pub­lic re­la­tions and mar­ket­ing agency that lives and breathes all facets of the travel tech­nol­ogy in­dus­try. To find out more about JLNPR visit www.jlnpr.c

There’s a mis­con­cep­tion held by many busi­ness own­ers that pub­lic re­la­tions (PR) and ad­ver­tis­ing are com­pletely in­ter­change­able (in terms of the ben­e­fits that they of­fer), but that isn’t true. While each has ben­e­fits, there are many rea­sons that PR is more ef­fec­tive for start-ups – es­pe­cially for those in the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try.

Here are six ex­am­ples of when us­ing PR will be more ef­fec­tive than ad­ver­tis­ing for hos­pi­tal­ity start-ups:

When you need to ed­u­cate your au­di­ence

One of the most ex­cit­ing things about work­ing in the hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try is the in­no­va­tion that you ex­pe­ri­ence first­hand. The dif­fi­cult thing about be­ing the com­pany that is sell­ing an in­no­va­tive, new prod­uct is that it is nec­es­sary to ed­u­cate your po­ten­tial clients on why this prod­uct is dif­fer­ent/bet­ter than others avail­able in the mar­ket. Be­cause many of th­ese prod­ucts are so tech­no­log­i­cally ad­vanced, this can be a very ar­du­ous process – and a con­fus­ing one for your au­di­ences. That’s where PR comes in.

In con­junc­tion with con­tent mar­ket­ing, PR is the best tac­tic to ed­u­cate your po­ten­tial cus­tomers and es­tab­lish the com­pany as an ex­pert. It is pos­si­ble to do this be­cause ho­tel trade pub­li­ca­tions will pub­lish ven­dorneu­tral ar­ti­cles (ar­ti­cles that don’t ref­er­ence/ sell a spe­cific brand/prod­uct) that will teach hote­liers how to im­prove their op­er­a­tional pro­cesses. Over time, this ex­po­sure will help your com­pany to sell your so­lu­tion more ef­fec­tively and sig­nif­i­cantly shorten the sales cy­cle.

When you want con­sumers to try out your prod­uct

A good way to pro­vide me­dia in­cen­tives for publishing your con­tent is to of­fer the pub­lisher the op­por­tu­nity to give away a free trial of your prod­uct to their read­ers. By al­low­ing the pub­li­ca­tion to man­age the give­away, it helps to in­crease their value to their au­di­ence, which will strengthen their read­er­ship, while giv­ing your prod­uct valu­able ex­po­sure. When you want to cre­ate a stronger re­la­tion­ship with your tar­get au­di­ence(s)

The pub­lic is ac­cus­tomed to see­ing ads ev­ery­where – and dis­trust­ing the mes­sag­ing that they see re­flected in th­ese ads. If you want your pub­lic(s) to have a pos­i­tive im­pres­sion of your com­pany and/or prod­ucts (and in­creased trust in pur­chas­ing from you), PR is a bet­ter ap­proach; ar­ti­cles writ­ten about your com­pany by a jour­nal­ist - an in­de­pen­dent third-party ex­pert - gives your com­pany more cred­i­bil­ity in the mind of po­ten­tial cus­tomers. The same mes­sage de­liv­ered by an ad­ver­tis­ing spokesper­son may be ig­nored by many po­ten­tial cus­tomers.

In ad­di­tion, ad­ver­tis­ing is only ef­fec­tive at telling your au­di­ence your mes­sage, mak­ing it a one-way mar­ket­ing tac­tic; in con­trast, PR is a two-way com­mu­ni­ca­tion tac­tic (com­mu­ni­ca­tion flows from the brand to the au­di­ence and also in re­verse), which makes it more ap­peal­ing to po­ten­tial cus­tomers and, there­fore, more ef­fec­tive.

When you want to sell your prod­uct’s story, not just your prod­uct

The in­her­ent na­ture of a start-up (it’s some­thing new and dif­fer­ent!) cre­ates a story an­gle that will be of greater in­ter­est, and there­fore, you are more likely to se­cure me­dia cov­er­age.

Es­pe­cially when your prod­uct is re-think­ing the in­dus­try’s stan­dard way of ex­e­cut­ing a task, there is a re­ally in­ter­est­ing story be­hind its devel­op­ment; con­sumers love to read th­ese sto­ries, so me­dia love to pub­lish them.

When are you are on a bud­get

Tra­di­tional mar­ket­ing tac­tics (such as bill­boards, TV com­mer­cials and ra­dio ads)

are less cost-ef­fi­cient than PR. For ex­am­ple, a press re­lease only needs to be dis­trib­uted to me­dia once (if you have a strong an­gle) and it will be picked up in nu­mer­ous pub­li­ca­tions, on- and off-line, over time. This gets your mes­sage and prod­uct/ser­vice on­go­ing at­ten­tion with­out an on­go­ing fi­nan­cial in­vest­ment – un­like ad­ver­tis­ing, which re­quires you to con­tinue pay­ing for the ad­ver­tise­ment to earn on­go­ing ex­po­sure.

Even more im­por­tantly, the re­sults that can be achieved us­ing PR (if ex­e­cuted prop­erly), greatly ex­ceed the ROI that can be earned from ad­ver­tis­ing.

To cre­ate or main­tain your com­pany’s rep­u­ta­tion, es­pe­cially dur­ing a cri­sis

Es­tab­lish­ing and main­tain­ing your rep­u­ta­tion is the essence of PR. As pre­vi­ously men­tioned, hav­ing a jour­nal­ist write about your com­pany or prod­uct es­tab­lishes a sense of cred­i­bil­ity with read­ers/view­ers.

In ad­di­tion, dur­ing and after a cor­po­rate cri­sis, au­di­ences are not as re­cep­tive to tra­di­tional ad­ver­tis­ing. By us­ing PR to com­mu­ni­cate with au­di­ences (don’t for­get to apol­o­gize!) dur­ing a cri­sis, the com­pany can mit­i­gate the neg­a­tive ef­fects and more ef­fec­tively pro­tect (or re­build) their rep­u­ta­tion.

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