PR Power of the Web
In the world of public
relations, the World Wide Web is like Rodney Dangerfield: Its motto could be "I
don't get no respect." Too many PR counselors underestimate the Web's value as a
publicity medium for their clients.
Never mind that, according to the Travel Industry of America, 64
million Americans use the Internet to plan trips and 70% of U.S. travelers do at
least half of their travel bookings online.
If you're a Netskeptic, consider these points:
- A Sunday newspaper article is likely to end up in the recycling bin on
Monday morning. A magazine article gets very little readership after a month. In
contrast, a Web article can be "evergreen," with readers finding it in search
engines for months or even years after publication. (Example: A
Viking Burgundy cruise review from November, 2003 has generated
nearly 800,000 page views since it was published.)
- An "evergreen" Web travel article provides decision support and
decision validation to readers who search the Web for independent reviews of
destinations, hotels, cruise lines, etc. before booking. (See
testimonials from travel vendors and readers.)
- Unlike a printed article, an online story can link to your client's Web
site. The reader who's intrigued by a description of a city, a hotel, or a
cruise can get more information instantly--just by clicking a mouse button.
First they read, then they click.
Let's look at some archived numbers from our own
site, Europe for Visitors, when we
were using a hosting service that tracked outbound link referrals. The first
table represents a typical week
during the spring travel-planning season:
|TRAFFIC - ONE WEEK
other Web sites
Now let's reduce those figures by 20% (to compensate for seasonal traffic
variations) and project the resulting numbers over one year:
|TRAFFIC PER YEAR
other Web sites
The annualized traffic of nearly 9 million page views* is impressive enough. Even
more impressive, from a publicist's viewpoint, is the "referrals to other Web
sites" number. Almost 1.9 million readers clicked through to Web sites
that had links from Europe for Visitors--among them, sites for tourist offices,
transportation companies, hotels, guidebook publishers, and other travel
What to look for in a Web site:
Once you've shed your Netskepticism and decided to leverage the PR power of
the Web, you should observe these simple rules when adding names to your
Favor quality over pedigree.
Offline media don't always replicate their quality or success on the Web. Also,
independent travel "content site" may reach more prospects for your client's
product or service than most magazines and newspaper travel sections do. If a site looks professional,
has quality editorial content, and is written for your client's target audience, the staff (even if it's just one person) is worth
Take rankings from Alexa and Compete with a grain of salt. (They've been
gamed by SEOs for years.) You're much better off asking for screen shots from
Google Analytics, which show real traffic numbers instead of estimates based
on proprietary toolbar data.
Look for sites that have a strong presence in
Google and Bing. People who are actively researching their own trips
(as opposed to enjoying other people's trips vicariously) rely on search
engines to help them determine where to go, what to do, and how to spend
Beware of sites that offer letters of assignment to writers in lieu of
payment. Such sites may attract writers who are more interested in traveling
than in writing.
Look at audience demographics.
In the United States, Quantcast's "U.S.
Demographics" numbers are the gold standard for publicly-available
demographic data. You can see an example of an embedded Quantcast table on
our Audience page at
Europe for Visitors.
Match the message to the medium.
you're promoting short-term offers, pitch your message to news- or
deals-oriented sites. If you're looking to build long-term awareness of a
destination, cruise line, tour company, etc., look for sites that focus on
Focus on editorial travel-planning sites.
When evaluating Web sites for PR purposes, look for sites that emphasize travel
planning and not just armchair travel or community. Sites that focus on "travel how-to" will
reach more prospects than personal blogs or social-media sites.
Working With Travel
Daniel J. Marengo, editorial director of The Fontayne Group, offers tips on
organizing and hosting press trips (including a distinction between "writers"