This article was originally published in the July 2018 issue of VRMA’s Arrival magazine
Developing an effective public relations strategy should be an important consideration for a property management business once it reaches a certain size and has clarified its larger business goals and ambitions. PR covers a range of objectives and actions that includes media relations, content creation, social amplification, thought leadership development and news generation.
The scope and opportunity for PR are broad, especially now that we are in the digital and influencer age. Customers consume content and information from many sources and they can be reached through different channels. Of course, through traditional media, but also through digital magazines, specialist publications, blogging sites, on Twitter, Facebook, through third-party reviews, via influencers, directly from journalists, from our partners and the word of mouth of our past guests.
Public Relations is about reputation, building trusting relationships and developing and delivering your key messages that will reach and convert the audiences that your business needs to thrive. PR is also about facilitating a change in behaviour. It’s often said that PR helps to create the environment in which a sale can happen.
Every organisation, no matter how large or small, ultimately depends on its reputation for survival and success. This is as relevant for a small owner-managed vacation rental business with two or three properties as it is for a large villa agency handling an inventory of hundreds or even thousands of properties.
In today’s competitive market, your reputation can be your biggest asset – the thing that makes you stand out from the crowd and gives you an edge. Effective PR can help manage and enhance your reputation by communicating and building good, trustworthy relationships – relationships that can then help you reach your goals, whether these goals include driving traffic to your website, attracting the right guests to your property, growing your portfolio of owners or building trust in your brand to increase the rate of enquiry conversions.
PR is also often effectively used by businesses that are either looking for an investment or an exit.
When you begin to think about developing the PR for your vacation rental business, start with some hard thinking and a clear, realistic plan. Time spent on evaluation and planning including what you need PR to achieve, who you need to be building relationships with, and what your ultimate outcomes are, will pay off in the long run. Here are the basic steps to take to develop an effective PR strategy.
- Define your overarching goal – where do you want PR to take your business? What’s the business ‘problem’ that needs addressing?
- Define your objectives. These should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic and Time-bound)
- Define your target audience – who do you need to reach?
- Define your target media – where do you want to be seen to reach your audience? What are the most effective channels and publications that will connect and influence your market?
- Define your key messages – what do you need to say? What do you want your audience to know about your product, service and especially – what’s the end benefit you provide.
- Plan your tactical approach and put in place an action plan. These tactics will include press releases, content creation, a media contact program, award entries, speaking opportunities and an influencer strategy.
- What does success look like? What evaluation metrics will you include that will help you grow and develop? Refine and develop as you go so that you are always on top of your activity and strategy.
Finally, make sure that your PR strategy is closely aligned with your marketing so that they work together and are not siloed. Be patient but persistent. Public relations works best when it can generate momentum, so allow time before seeing results and don’t give up too soon.
About Jessica Gillingham
Jessica is the director of Abode PR, a specialist PR and content marketing agency partnering with clients operating in the international vacation and short-term rental space. Abode PR helps both ‘guest facing’ and B2B brands connect with new audiences through telling their story in the most compelling way and distributing that story through the most effective channels. www.abode-pr.com