Rob Stewart’s PR agency Ski Press works at the very core of the European winter sports industry, representing travel brands, equipment manufacturers, property developers and more. For those new to the concept of promoting your business via the media, here’s Rob’s introduction to PR in the winter sports industry.
PR is absolutely fabulous darling – well, occasionally anyway
By Rob Stewart, Ski Press
In our digital world, communications, you could argue, have completely changed the world of PR and marketing to an extent that makes it unrecognisable from twenty years ago. But, however we deliver our news or story to the media and the world, the fundamental elements that make a successful campaign remain the same – tell a good story, deliver it in the right way, have credibility. The process and tactics of how we deliver that information might have changed, but if there’s no human element behind it all, then you’re potentially lost.
What makes a good story?
Of course, this all depends on the publication you’re talking to – but let’s stick to winter sports content for the purposes of this topic. Unfortunately, bad news often makes the headlines but you’re a business and you want to tell everyone about how great you are. The fact is, editors really aren’t interested in that, they want news, not marketing spiel about your new chalet décor or why guests love the food your chef prepares at dinner time. So, here’s some angles that might just work out for you:
New – if you’re a new company then this could be of genuine interest to a reader and it’s always an angle to exploit to the max. If you have a new chalet in your portfolio, or something unique that you’re introducing this winter, then it’s certainly ammunition for a potential press release, providing the hook is attention grabbing enough to compete with the hundreds of other press releases flying around the editor’s office.
Create a story – I have worked on several campaigns where we have helped create a stand out product for a client that is genuine and commercial, but tells a unique story that’s interesting and newsworthy. For example, last winter we helped Eddie the Eagle Edwards get back into Nordic Ski Jumping after nearly twenty years away from the sport along with a chalet operator client of ours who supported the project. The challenge there is to ensure the client gets mentioned, so the approach needs to be spot on.
Facts and figures – journalists like facts and figures, so if you are an expert in a certain area and can research a part of the industry that might be relevant to the audience you’re pitching to, then some stats can go a long way to help persuade an editor that your story has value and credibility.
Getting a press release right is one thing, but even more importantly, it’s the delivery that really counts.
However slick and professional your press release might be, the next thing to consider is the audience you’re sending it to. If you have a large social media following and you simply want to talk directly to your customers, then you could publish your news on your own website and share on whatever platforms you use. But, media relations usually means just that – you want to get your story published in front of a mass audience.
In regards to the winter sports industry, the national newspapers, both in print and online, are still very important – then you have the ski and snowboard magazines and their online counterparts. But there’s also lifestyle publications, national travel magazines, regional papers, online blogs and of course resort magazines such as the wonderful Source!
If you have a story to tell but you don’t know the editors or contributors to these publications, then that’s fine – if your story is good enough, they will see that. But, by building relationships with real people, you are creating two very important key elements of PR – trust and credibility. This trust provides an editor or journalist the confidence to take your story and publish it with their name to it. Why would they do that if they somehow had doubts about its source? Now, if you have an established company then of course you have credibility, so use that and combine it will all the rest and you should be fine.
The old ‘Absolutely Fabulous’ cliché with Edina and Patsy, spending their days sloshing champagne and going to parties is an image of PR that is far removed from the realities of what 99% of PR work actually involves. But, there’s an element of truth somewhere in there – it’s more important for people to like and trust you to think that you’re highly competent. I’m not for one second suggesting incompetence, I’m simply saying you can be the most competent PR practitioner in the world, but if you’re not trusted then you’re definitely lost.
So whilst today we use tools to ensure our contacts are kept up to date, our press releases can be monitored for ‘opens’ and ‘clicks’, we still need to focus on people – meaning that although the tactics might have changed, the strategy remains virtually the same.
Check out all Rob’s hard work here: www.ski-press.com