The Boost Hospitality Podcast is back for another season! We are now in Season 7, and we are currently on the twelfth episode! Today, I’ve invited Catherine Shields of South Coast Escapes to talk about ways to get media attention.
Catherine is based in New South Wales, Australia. She is an ex-creative on huge magazines such as Vogue, Marie Claire, and Harper’s Bazaar. Now she is an accommodation owner. She’s got properties scattered around New South Wales. She also works on tourism boards and has used those skills in the past career to good effect on her accommodation businesses. Catherine is going to share how she can get her property in front of publications, blogs and influences and get media attention. She’s going to go through a few do’s and don’ts to get media attention, and we’re even going to give you a free PDF download that Catherine mentioned throughout this podcast interview. GET YOUR COPY HERE.
Catherine Shields talks about ways to get media attention
I’m located about two hours south of Sydney on the east coast of Australia in a beautiful area called the Show Haven. I have five-holiday rental cottages, three by the beach and two in the local country town. I got to be in this space from many years of investing in property and doing our properties with my husband, who’s an architect. I was always had an interest in property. That’s how I became an accidental host.
Before that, I had a reasonably long career in the media and advertising. I’ve worked for a lot of glossy titles, including things like Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Marie Claire. I’ve worked on specialised titles, and I’ve even added to their local glossy magazine here on the south coast.
Know Your Market and Know Your Product
The first thing to get media attention is to think about where you fit into the scene. If you’ve got your customer avatar, pull that out and have a look at that.
A customer avatar is a made-up person who is your typical customer. So if your typical customer is a middle-aged mother who lives in the suburbs? Then that’s what your customer avatar is. It could be a family. It could be a young millennial couple. It just depends on what sort of product you have.
Part of number one is also about taking a critical look at your product. So if you are pet-friendly, make sure you do pet-friendly well. You need to be able to get ready for the media coming to take photos, or you need to get ready for new photos for yourself.
And think about your property doesn’t need a little bit of work as a garden at work. Do you need to restyle the main bedroom? So that it looks perfect in the photos. So it’s also about getting some ideas ready? Do you have somewhere for an Instagram moment, just put something together? And that’s all on the PDF that you’ll be able to download. Make sure you’re Instagram ready.
Shortlist and strategise
The second thing to get media attention is all about which publications, which blogs, which journalist do you want to target? Is it a local glossy magazine that you might want to get coverage in? Is it a newspaper? Is it an online blog? Is it an influencer? Is it a specialised publication? So if you’re in a cycling area, do you maybe want to target a cycling magazine or a cycling blog? This is the sort of thing you have to really sit down and work through. Because you need to get ready for where you think you’re going to get the most coverage. I’ve suggested in the PDF that you build a scrapbook of the coverage you’d like to understand and take a good look at who the journalist is, keep a copy of that particular thing. National Sydney newspaper does a supplement twice a year called 52 Weekends away. I’ve had my properties in there a few times, and it’s a great way to get bookings. I usually take note of when they’re coming out and make sure I submit perfect photos a few months beforehand so that when they come to choosing the properties, you have a good chance for getting to getting in this.
You would send in your information a few months ahead because they will be planning a long way. Don’t send it too early, but maybe a couple of months because something like that would be like a magazine so they would have a long lead time. The other thing is to the journalist has to come out and stay at your property. So usually they book and you don’t necessarily know that it’s them. This is why you have to get your property ready in case you do get a secret shopper because you know what happened to me once where I had a journalist who had a few glasses of wine and couldn’t get the plug on my big Moroccan style bar. The plug was stuck. And she couldn’t get the plug to come out. And the whole review was about that. So a lost opportunity.
Photos, photos and more photos!
The third thing to get media attention is to have good photos. Photos are the most important thing because you need to entice, whether you’ve got a TV show coming out. Or as a serious newspaper article, the thing that is going to get you noticed is your photos. So, make sure you’ve done the prep. If you can get a professional photographer, it’s worth the investment. If you’re taking your photos, make sure you style things properly. Make everything neat. The thing that I do when I’m on photographic shoots is I take a picture even with my iPhone. I then scrutinise it for electrical cords or messy stuff on the bed or things that you don’t notice with the naked eye unnecessarily. And make sure you take photos, particularly outdoors, every property at the right time of day. So early in the morning, late in the afternoon to get fabulous skies and that sort of magic light. Just little things like that can make all the difference.
And if you’re in doing interior shots, try to use natural light where possible because that’s what we use in editorial and use your photo editing software as well and try and get those photos looking light and bright.
You must be on Instagram. So if you’re not already on Instagram, there’s no excuse you have to be on there if you’re in business. This is where this is the first place a journalist will go to check you out. They need to know that you’re credible, that you’re professional and that you know what your product is. They will go online and check out all your photos. So, it’s essential to have an excellent looking Instagram account.
The other thing to do is to create spaces for them to take an Instagram moment. So you’ll see on the PDF, on the cover, I’ve put a photo of a girl who is at a restaurant in Brisbane that set up a swing with our logo so that people would take photos. So that’s another critical thing to do. Because whether people are Instagram influencers or just mom and dad travellers, everybody will take a picture for bragging rights. And if I can take one at your property with your logo in there somewhere, it’s free advertising.
The fourth thing to get media attention is to have good story angles. There is a myriad of story ideas out there. What you have to do is think about not only where you want to be, but the kind of story you would like, or the kind of story you think is most likely to get you some media coverage. So it may not just be glossy tourism mentioned, it could also be a news article. And this kind of exposure can work well because you might find that you’ve got, instead of being hidden at the backing in the travel pages, you might be on the front page or the page three, or you might be right up front and get a lot more eyes on your business. So ideas can come from some latest tourism statistics. Something that you might know that you find is exciting. You’d be surprised. Maybe everybody else would find it interesting. I’ve given you some examples of the PDF. Things like why pet-friendly hotels are winning over new customers. Stuff like why millennials want authentic travel experiences? What makes a great business hotel, the booming in glamping? Why do people wish to wilderness combined with creature comforts? You can come up with any story idea. It could be about a trend that your particular property addresses. So when you can find something like that, you don’t have to write the story yourself. You need to put a paragraph down and put some bullet points.
The fifth thing to get media attention is to make contact. Before you do make contact, I think I mentioned earlier on in the PDF; it’s essential to stalk the media that you’re looking at approaching. So if they have reader events, and you can go to a reader event, go check it out, you actually might meet the staff, meet the actual journalists at that reader event. =’m going to LinkedIn; if you’re not on LinkedIn, you should be on there.
You can follow the journalists that you think are going to perhaps do something for you. Look at their Instagram pages, follow them on Twitter, do all that stalky stuff.
One of the things I also mentioned is, which is pretty apparent is become an advertiser. So this doesn’t mean that you have to spend a lot of money on advertising. But you could do something a lot of magazines like country living in the UK, have a directory at the back for accommodation. So you could for a little amount of money, advertising their accommodation directory, and that gets you on the radar.
Most magazines will support their advertisers; they will know that you exist so that if they are looking for places in your area, or looking for somewhere if they wanted to shoot a fashion story on a farm, for example. They might even look at your farm because you’re an advertiser.
The other thing I’ve got on the PDF is you can try cold pitching, which is a long shot. It’s not easy to do. And you will probably find you’ll have to try and try again.
But always make sure you pitch your idea to one place only. The worst thing you can ever do is send out the same idea to half a dozen different publications. Because if they find out that you’ve given that idea to their competitors, they will drop you cold because the worst thing would be to have the same story appearing in two different publications. So don’t ever do that. Just choose one publication for each story, idea and target that particular publication one at a time.
The other thing you can do is contact journalists by email directly or even try calling them. This is something that people don’t think is possible. But you can, you never know, and by calling someone direct, it’s difficult for them to say no to, you know, while you’re on the phone. A direct message is an effective way of contacting influencers and bloggers. Most of them answer their direct messages personally.
And this is a perfect way to make contact and send your media kit via snail mail. That’s always an old fashioned approach that because nobody doesn’t know these days, it can often breakthrough. So if you’ve got a simple media kit yourself, sit send that through to journalists directly.
The sixth thing to get media attention is to have a good pitch. So you’re ready to go. You know where you’re aiming you want. You’ve chosen your media or your media channel. Don’t rush into it. Make sure you’re well prepared. Make sure you have great photos, about four perfect pictures that represent your property well. Have a great short description of your property. Just do a single A4 page. Don’t make it any longer than that. Make sure your grammar and spelling are perfect. Because quite often, these journalists are busy. There’s a 24-hour news cycle; they will quite often copy and paste what you’ve given them. So make sure it’s all perfect. If the spelling is wrong, they will throw it aside.
High-resolution photos, sharp and in focus, make sure the quality is there. Make sure the size of the files is decent. Make sure you caption every photo so if you want to number the photos and have somewhere a description of each photo that’s important because the copy editor will have to get on the phone and call you and find out what is in each photo. If you’ve already done that for them, they will love us.
A maximum one-page story outline, you don’t have to write the story. You have to do a paragraph, intro and dot points of the main ideas and links to websites links to other people they can get quotes from and make sure you finish with all the details like the address of your property, your phone number, your email, your social media links and contact details for any other people who may be able to provide more information because rarely will they do a story on one person they will normally try and get at least one other point of view. So, for example, if it’s a story on glamping, they might do two or three or four different types of glamping. So you might want to get together with some other people in your industry and put a pitch together that way.
Get a group together
Here’s the last thing to get media attention. I put a couple of ideas together because I have friends who are in this business as well who would be daunted by doing any of this. So I want to give you some examples to show you that it’s not that hard at all.
So the first example is travel trend. City families crave authentic farm experiences. Okay, so that is something that a lot of the Boostly hospitality people have is that sort of farm stay experience. So do a little bit of research. The latest tourism report from visit Britain, or something that says that there’s been, say a 25% increase in the popularity of farm stay holidays across the UK in the three years from 2016 to 2019. Okay, this is just made up.
So what I would do is, say I had a farm state and I had a couple of friends in different parts of the UK who have farm stays, I would maybe call them and say, let’s do this together, put all your photos together and say, you know, Allison Smith runs a historic black rabbit in a farm stay in Devon, we have somebody else who has farm stay in Yorkshire. And each one of them will be different and maybe aim at a slightly different market. And that will make for a really interesting story. So that’s my first example.
For the second example, this is a different idea. Service accommodation. This is a different vibe. And you’re thinking, Well, how do we make a story out of that? Most service apartments are fairly similar. They’re not visually interesting because of their hotel rooms, but what you can do is look for an angle. And the thing that I’ve noticed, just watching the podcast is a lot of these service accommodation. People are young guys; they’re young entrepreneurs.
So I think it would be an interesting story to put a few of these guys together and talk about these guys that are young, tech-savvy, tech-savvy. That’s what the story idea is. So I would get maybe five service department entrepreneurs together, find out where they are I think it’s interesting that they’re not in London necessarily. They’re in some of the regional cities. That’s interesting. And these guys are the disruptors in the accommodation world, and they’re probably making a lot of the hotels very nervous. So there is a story. So if you’re an SA person, and you know of a few others, you could get together and pitch that story.
Know more about Catherine
Linkedin: Catherine Shields
Facebook: South Coast Escapes