Caroline Gregory, Editor of Group Travel World magazine, has worked in journalism for over a decade. She has also worked on the other side, helping businesses to market themselves effectively to their audiences using the media. Here she explains how to increase the chances of your press release being spotted and used in publications and other outlets

Whether you are a hotel, attraction, coach operator or restaurant, the chances are you occasionally have to write press releases (and if you aren’t, you probably should be!). Press releases are a form of getting the word out about all your latest news and events to the largest possible audience with a minimum of time and effort on your part. They can be an excellent way of reaching your audience and raising your profile.

Editors and other journalists receive dozens of press releases every day. So how can a supplier ensure that their press release is read, let alone chosen for publication?

Firstly, choose the time to send your press release out carefully, presuming you are sending it by email as is the usual method these days. Don’t send it at 5pm or later, as by 9am the next morning it will already have sunk down the inbox. If you do happen to know when a certain magazine goes to press, it makes sense to avoid sending them a press release in the day or two beforehand, as the content of the publication will mostly have been written by then and they will be at the editing stage. By the time next week or month rolls round, your news will likely be too old to use – or at the very least, will be lingering at the bottom of the inbox again. Timing is also important on a bigger scale. Here at Group Travel World magazine, for example, we know that our audience in terms of group travel organisers often arranges trips around six months in advance; coach operators can be around a year. Therefore, we try to publish articles that will help them when they are arranging trips, so we might print a piece on Christmas markets in the summer. This is in addition to the fact that many magazines work far in advance anyway; here at GTW, as I write, we are currently working on the June issue even though it is April. Of course, there is always the news section for more up-to-date announcements, but your press release will have to be significantly newsworthy to merit a spot on those pages.

So once you’ve considered timing, how else can you ensure that your press release is at least read by the recipient and not instantly deleted? A summary at the very beginning of the email is a good idea, whether the press release is further down in the body of the email or attached as a document. The summary must include all the best and most pertinent points of the press release but be very short – two to three sentences maximum. The press release itself should not be overlong, either – after all, an editor can always get in touch should they need further information. Cut out the boring detail but include things such as quotations and supporting statistics. One of the elements most likely to ensure your press release is included is attaching great relevant images. If you have just one or two images, send them in their full high-resolution size, as editors love nothing more than having something ‘ready to go’ rather than having to engage in further time-consuming correspondence to get images of good enough quality to publish. Minimum resolutions for publication vary; check the guidelines of your chosen targets. If you have too many images or the file sizes are too large to send by email, attach low-resolution preview images to the press release for the recipient to choose from. Your aim is to make everything as easy as possible for the editor or journalist, since their time is likely to be very short. Always include any necessary information such as picture captions or credits.

Finally, it is sometimes the little details that count. Keep your database up-to-date with the names of current editors and journalists. Your recipient may be using their predecessor’s inbox, but that doesn’t mean they want to read emails addressed to him or her. Know your audience – mass emailing may sometimes be necessary, but if you are continually sending press releases to totally irrelevant audiences, you will get a bad reputation as a spammer. Don’t send them out too often, as it comes across as desperate and will likely result in an instant click of the delete button at the other end. Lastly, don’t waste press releases on information that is simply not newsworthy. Is anyone really likely to be interested in the fact that you’ve just employed a new admin assistant? Or that the toilets have been refurbished? Save them for the important stuff!

TRAVEL FIRMS MUST SPEED UP TO KEEP CUSTOMERS

The Innovation Report 2013 into travel industry IT trends has provided a stark reminder to those in the trade of the necessity of providing fast and accurate search results online. The ever-increasing role of technology in booking everything from hotels to holidays and attraction tickets means that providers who don’t supply this function will quickly lose out on a share of the market. Collstream and Travolution’s new report identifies the complexities of gathering data and analysing trends, particularly as consumers are now using multiple devices. How people interact differs between device, time of day, demographic and gender, and this impacts business decisions. The report points out that in the fight to grab consumers’ online attention, designing for different devices will be one of the toughest areas travel will face.

Hot off the press… the new World Travel Market 2013 website is now live.

All suppliers should take a look to see what will be on offer at the trade show, held from November 4th – 7th at ExCel London. Full registration will open in June, but interest should be registered now to receive notifications.