A New Paradigm for Hotel PR: The 2020 Protocols

The publisher of a prominent magazine once sketched out for me the ways and means of a PR agency he once knew. Describing the principals at a cocktail party, he described “her in that corner with a glass of white” and “him in that corner with a glass of red.” I was thinking about this last night, watching Mad Men and thinking about how much the old school behavior in PR is no longer apropos.

Gone are the days when “schmoozing” was how you got your clients covered. Don’t get me wrong. I’m a big believer in actual (not virtual) meetings as the foundation of healthy business relationships. But if meeting face to face was once a prerequisite for success – and it was – then it is no more. Not when we’re talking media.

Efficiency Through Technology

Why? Technology for one thing. Email and cloud-based systems have enabled so much efficiency, and the ability to get so much done, that the prospect of giving up time to long lunches and cocktail parties feels like a ditch dug in the torrid pace of the work at large. There’s simply less time to be casual when there are so many opportunities to get a lot done.

The media don’t want your paper press kits. Don’t want your CDs. Don’t want your phone calls. They do want links to the cloud and your pitch in a sentence or two. Who can blame them?

The other reason is budgetary. There simply isn’t the money there once was in publishing. Look how Craigslist has milked dry the cash cow of classified ads. Look at publications like the Christian Science Monitor and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Newsweek, all of which are now online entities only. Paper is expensive.

Gone are the budgets to field reporters and photographers, and the time to indulge old school best practices (i.e. that glass of white over there, the glass of red over here).

Gretzky’s Puck

With the old school closing its doors, there is a crisis at hand as we all reorient around new modalities and best practices. But as one of the Chinese characters tells us, crisis is also opportunity. One of the things that made Canadian hockey legend Wayne Gretzky great were his uncanny powers of forecasting. He didn’t skate to where the puck was, he skated to where it would be.

After years at work in the PR industry, we at Balcony Media have a pretty good idea of where the puck will be, which is why we’re launching the 2020 Protocols, a new model of campaigning for hotels and resorts and golf courses that addresses the evolution we’ve seen in this industry… and heads for the puck.

I won’t go overly long on detail here, but suffice to say that our new paradigm distills what worked best in traditional PR and embraces what’s happened since the rise of the Internet and the smoldering of paper. Today, as we work up media plans for clients, we’re predicating our campaigns on the development of a monthly dispatch.

Sometimes, when the news warrants it, that dispatch is a press release. Sometimes, it’s a Q&A. Sometimes, it’s a guest commentary. Sometimes, it’s a blog that reads like a purpose-built magazine story. And sometimes, these dispatches land on CNN, like this one did recently for a client.

We like this paradigm because we at Balcony hail from the ranks of journalists. We’ve written for the New York Times and National Geographic, for the Wall Street Journal and CNN, and we understand that the mainstream media, more and more these days, want ready-made content from agencies like ours. This is what makes Balcony unique. Many agencies staff up from the world of marketing and public relations; we staff up from newsroom.

Whatever the monthly dispatch, the 2020 Protocols ensure that our clients are turning out vital, readable content about the property every month. By default, this content will populate the pages of your Website. And by extension, it’ll populate the pages of media that are increasingly receptive to guest commentaries and Q&As and ready-made magazine stories. It’s been happening for some time, and the pull from media will only get stronger. Indeed, we at Balcony recently wrote a hotel review about a client for the editor of a major lifestyle magazine in the States. Again, you’ve got to come from that world to play this way in that world. This is where the puck is going.

Jim Sullivan Managing Director
Contact us for more information about Balcony or our clients. Whether you’re about to launch a new property, or need to increase your visibility, we can talk to you about what to do, and when and how.