The Power of Using Public Relations to Build a Successful Destination Brand

“You build your brand through public relations. Advertising is used to maintain your ownership position.”

These words, written by the famous branding guru, Al Ries, are more important today than ever before..

Destination marketing organizations constantly wonder how to successfully tell the world their community exists and that they are worth a special trip. Should they use advertising or Public Relations? Or maybe a combination of both?

We believe you should do both, but PR clearly takes priority over advertising. Here are the five reasons PR should be the top priority:

#1 - Your brand is built through PR

A brand is what people think of you. It is your unique selling proposition. When you tell people where you’re from, what do they say? What is their perception? Whatever their response, that is your “brand”—the perception they have of you. And that perception is formed by what other people say, what they read about your community, and what they see on social media or in the news.

Social media is a BIG part of public relations. PR includes print (articles written about you), broadcast (what is being said on television or radio), and social media (blogs, vlogs, online reviews, photo sites, and conversations on social media sites).

Public relations should be priority number one when it comes to promoting your unique selling proposition—what you want to be known for. 

#2 - PR provides a BIG return on Investment

For every dollar you spend on public relations you'll see $3 in earned media. Earned media is what it would cost if you were to purchase that space in the form of advertising.

#3 - Articles versus ads

Articles are read more than four times that of ads, whether in print, online, or on any other media. People will generally look at an ads for only a few seconds, but they will spend several minutes or longer reading an article about you; particularly when it’s from a third-party viewpoint providing an honest, unbiased opinion. 

#4 - Social media speeds up the brand-building process

When it comes to brand building, what used to take 20 years or more can now be accomplished in just three to five years. That is the power of social media in this “always on” world. We can find anybody, anywhere, instantly online, and so you have the power to create widely available content and stories that will build and promote your brand—what it is you want to be known for.

#5 - People trust third-party recommendations

The problem with advertising is that it's self-proclaimed. When you're marketing your destination or business, you tell people how great you are. Only 15% will believe that what you say is actually true, but when it comes from a third-party, it’s believed 85% of the time. This is why the third-party reviews posted to TripAdvisor have made it the most used travel website in the world. Travelers want to know what others think of you. That’s PR.

The bottom line: Public Relations should be your top marketing priority whether you have a staff person dedicated to the effort or you contract it out. And remember, this is “public relations,” meaning both social media AND traditional media.

All the best with your public relations journey!