Posted At: January 10, 2014 10:54 a.m.
by Aime O’Keefe.
Destination branding and tourism marketing used to be topics reserved for hospitality managers. Tourism and convention bureaus relied on in-house representatives to create and implement communications plans. But as agencies develop and specialize, destination management offices are reaching out to external professionals to help boost travel sales.
Agencies like DiamondPR in Miami, Fla., cater to tourism and destination clients from all over the world. Global relations with clients requires several particular techniques in order to maintain client trust. When it comes to travel marketing, the key is to not limit yourself.
Sky high dreams
Being a specialized agency does not mean the competition for a client is low. DiamondPR is focused on travel, tourism and lifestyle PR, with a client map including Guatemala, Costa Rica and Aruba.
“We do stuff that’s different! There’s a lot of noise in the space and you’ve got to find a way to cut through it,” Jody Diamond, president of DiamondPR, said about her approach toward the media.
Last December, Diamond and her team found huge results when their client San Juan Marriott Resort and Stellaris Casino contributed 800 room nights to Ellen DeGeneres’ 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways. Some businesses would be terrified at such a high-cost strategy, but Julian Cable-Treadwell, director of marketing at the resort, understood DiamondPR to be a high-statement agency — and was totally on board.
“The key with our firm is we don’t bring in just any client. We bring in clients that want what we can offer them. You all have to be on the same wavelength,” Diamond said.
Ever since the partnership, San Juan Marriott and DiamondPR have been tackling greater challenges. According to PRDaily (http://www.prdaily.com/Awards/SpecialEdition/42.aspx), the partnership resulted in “the first-ever, industry-defining video-bloggers-only press trip,” which challenged top video bloggers to make a video incorporating the resort in 48 hours — including writing, production and editing.
The firm takes pride in having strong relationships with media outlets, so it’s easy to identify what aspect of a client’s message will resonate with the target media.
“We’re not a ‘spray and pray’ agency. We target and look at the client and their goals. We work hard to find ways where PR can affect the bottom line for our client. It’s really about initiating your client’s goals and working with the media,” Diamond said.
The best fruit begins at the roots
Although DiamondPR is known for creative tactics, its success is based in the staff’s shared passion for travel.
“It’s really the people that make it up. They’ve just got such cool backgrounds, and they’re really passionate about what they do,” Danielle Logan, account coordinator for DiamondPR, said.
“In this industry you have to find a way to balance being out of the office with the fact that there’s still work coming in and deadlines to be met. I’m so lucky that I get to see so many places for work. In this industry, your life isn’t confined to an office,” Diamond said.
Diamond and her partner built DiamondPR upon traditional, old-school tactics but recognized the need for integrated communication services that bring in social and digital media. Press releases are still applicable but need to be tailored to each recipient.
“Sometimes I take a step back and think like an editor and what they’d want to see,” Logan said. “How interested would you be if you got this? It can be challenging especially if you send something out to multiple people.”
When considering where to open the agency, Diamond wanted to feel central to a global market. “Miami is a great jumping off point to travel. We can be in South America, Mexico or New York all in a relatively decent amount of time,” Diamond said. She considers her location a benefit to her full travel schedule, about 2.5 weeks out of every month.
DiamondPR continues to blaze through uncharted territory with big ideas. Brainstorming is done in the office conversationally, with everyone following travel trends and hospitality awards very closely.
Different age groups are represented in the agency as well. “We have a really diverse team: there are 12 of us, and everyone’s from a different place with a wide range of age categories,” Diamond said.
When asked for advice to new professionals, Diamond offered courageous counseling: “Any new PR people should look into not always buying into the old way of doing things. Going with the flow isn’t what it’s all about anymore. Don’t just go through the process. Really just pay attention to that voice inside your head.”
“Think about the specialties and areas of interest you have because it helps set you apart,” advised Logan.
Everyone loves to travel, obviously. But Logan’s parting advice was to consider specific aspects of travel that get you fired up. It will impress employers, whether you’re looking into a boutique, large agency or in-house PR department.