Bad PR from Great Hotels

Posted by Jim Sullivan from Mandarin Media

If you’re a hotel, and you’re issuing news like any of the three very brief examples I’m about to share with you, allow me to introduce you to your Achilles’ Heel. Because that’s what you’ve got if you’re in this camp.

One disclaimer before I excerpt these sentences from genuine press releases: These came from internationally renowned hotel groups. Hotels that have won major awards. Hotels that should know better. But I’m not squealing. Poorly conceived news, almost without exception, can plague even the most rarified of hotel groups.

Egregious Example #1: “Youthful, beautiful skin is as far away as the fridge… try these delicious homemade spa recipes. Self care is important for stress management. Giving yourself a spa experience can be a wonderful tension tamer and you can do it yourself.”

Those are the first three sentences of what looks like a press release. I worked as a newspaper editor for 10 years. You know what I did when I got releases like that? From people who cared not a whit about what I needed to get my job done? I trashed their non-news. You’ve got 10 seconds to grab my attention. Make that first sentence mean something. Make it say something I’ll care about.

Egregious Example #2: “We are especially honoured on this occasion to be recognized for our efforts in maintaining the (not going to say) in which (name of hotel) is located.”

You’re honored? Really? You’re issuing news, and this is the best thing you can come up with for your GM to say? Is he that much of a ninny? Come on. Give him or her their due. You’re probably putting the words in his mouth – make them cogent. If you’re going to quote them, give them something intelligent to say.

Egregious Example #3: “Welcome all 10 Finalists Miss (name of country) 2011 to (internationally renown hotel) where they will take place for many memorable activities during (date). And stay (city) during (date).”

My first bit of advice: If you’re issuing news to the press in English, make sure your English works. Second bit of advice: Save your welcome for the ladies.

Communications matters. What you look like in print matters. Why? Because so many media outlets will cut and paste your release as is, and leave you looking like an idiot. The better media outlets will delete you and park your address in their spam lot.

What’s worse, if you don’t care all that much about the integrity of your appearance in print, a prospective visitor is apt to wonder what else about the property you don’t care that much about.