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October 2005

Promoting The Industry

Marti Mayne

Our goal is to generate great publicity for BedandBreakfast.com members specifically, and for the B&B industry as a whole. In this issue we cover:

 

Ask the Pros

Let’s Hear It From Innkeepers

Recent Media Coverage

                                   
 

Ask the Pros

Thank you to innkeepers who have sent questions for the Ask The Pros section; we promise to respond in future issues. This month, however, we wanted to share some great information from some of the top media sources in the country. 

In September, Sandy Soule and Marti Mayne attended The National Publicity Summit in New York City.  The conference offered the opportunity for quick one-on-one sessions with a host of high-powered television producers, magazine editors, radio show hosts and freelance writers where we pitched stories about B&Bs and BedandBreakfast.com members. We met with everyone from booking producers for The View, Good Morning America and The Tony Danza Show, to XM Radio, Woman’s World, Oprah Magazine, and many others.  We listened to several panel discussions in which the media recommended techniques for pitching stories.  Based on their oft-repeated advice, here’s our “Insider’s Guide to Getting Great Coverage in Magazines, Newspapers, Radio and TV:”

 

  1. Define and refine your pitch:  Be able to explain your story idea clearly and succinctly.  Your story idea should be compelling enough to make the reader/listener instantly curious to know more.

  2. Keep it short: If you’re sending the pitch, the guts of the pitch should be no more than one short paragraph (maximum 100 words). You can include backup information after the first pitch paragraph, but DO NOT send any information as an attachment.  If you’re doing a verbal pitch, be able to offer the most compelling aspects of your story in 30 seconds.  The rest of the story can be included in a written follow up.

  3. Know the media you’re pitching: Get to know the show and its hosts.  If you’re pitching a magazine or newspaper, align your story with the regular column(s) that appear. Remember, the editors need content that’s relevant and appropriate.

  4. Timing is everything:  If major news is breaking, do not call the media.  If a hurricane, war or other major national event is occurring, most media will not have time to focus on anything else.  If your story is scheduled to run and breaking news occurs, it is likely your story will be bumped.  The best time to contact on-air radio and television hosts is right after their shows end.  Do not call prior to the show as the hosts will be busy with last-minute details. Tie into current trends or holidays – at Valentine’s Day, romance is on the minds of media; during the holidays, baking, decorating and hospitality are timely topics.

  5. Be an expert: If you follow the media, you know that they are hungry for experts in every field.  Innkeepers are experts in decorating, cooking and baking, small business operation, hospitality, financial planning, and even plumbing.  Make sure the media knows your areas of expertise, so when they’re looking for tips on how to take good care of guests over the holidays for example, you are top of mind. To position yourself as an expert, send a short (one paragraph) bio explaining your expertise, then your original list of five how-to tips addressing that subject.

  6. Identify a problem and fix it:  A great way to position yourself as an expert is to identify a problem and then communicate solutions. Example: Blew it on Valentine’s Day? The card was not enough?  Here is a way to get out of the dog house.  You might then describe your “Get Out of the Doghouse” package telling chagrined lovers to quickly book with you.

  7. Follow up: One contact with the media does not a story make.  If it takes nine impressions to make a memory, it will take bi-weekly follow-up calls and emails with the media.  If you happen to have a story in a magazine or newspaper in which you’re quoted or featured, be sure to send a copy of that (or a link to it) showing that you’ve been quoted.  We often say media begets media.

  8. Don’t give up:  We heard success story after success story from media describing how authors and other guests continued to stay top of mind with short follow-up reminders of their story, then when the timing was right, they got on the show.  We also heard, however, that there is a fine line between communicating and badgering.  About every two weeks, contact those you wish to hear your story However, if they say they’re not interested, you must respect that and move on.

  9. Start local:  The media repeated over and over that local media coverage is the best way to start. It allows you practice and offers a venue for a tape.  If you appear on a radio or TV show, be sure to get a tape (VHS is okay, Beta SP footage is even better for TV) of your show.  National shows will request to see you on tape before considering you for an interview.  Local shows will love the fact you’ve already appeared and be more likely to book you on their stations.  Remember, media begets media.

  10. Be professional:  Media folks are working under tough deadlines. Communicate briefly, then follow-up regularly and professionally.  Criticizing them for not covering your B&B is not going to endear you to them. Voicemail messages should combine a 30-second pitch and your contact information. Emails should include complete contact and website information.


Short Takes:

 

  • Never leave long-winded phone messages. Give a compelling two-sentence pitch with your contact information.

  • Email is overwhelmingly preferred by media.  It’s okay to follow up an email with a phone call to make sure they see it.  Be sure you end your email with a full signature containing all your contact info and website.

  • Do not use any graphics (no e-stationary or photos) or attachments in your email pitches.  Spam filters will capture graphic emails and dump them.

  • Make sure your subject line is compelling enough to convince the busy media to open your email.  Email pitches should start with PRESS RELEASE or STORY IDEA, then include a four- to five-word word pitch.

  • Know to whom you’re pitching – is your story the right fit for that publication or show?

  • Tie into current trends or holidays – at Valentine’s Day, romance is on the minds of media; during the holidays, baking, decorating and hospitality are timely topics.

  • Connect to the audience through personal stories – the media loves heartwarming and inspirational stories about overcoming challenges.

  • If you do appear on TV or radio, be sure you’re prepared.  Know the facts of your story. 

  • If pitching your story by phone, make sure you’re in a quiet place where ringing phones, voices and oven timers will not interrupt your conversation.

  • Never use a cell phone to make a pitch or conduct a radio interview.

 

Let’s Hear It From Innkeepers
 

We really appreciate your support. Here are some of the comments we received last month. 

“You do send us many guests, and while I am a bit late with statistics, BedandBreakfast.com certainly hits first rank in terms of number of visitors.  The support you give us is outstanding.” -- Pierre Deveaux, 70 Traversiere Bed&Breakfast and FlatHotel Brussels, Brussels, Belgium
 

“Keep up your wonderful work -- our hats are off to you, Eric, for being such a fine spokesperson for the industry.”  -- Ms. Doris, Soundview Manor, White Plains, NY
 

“Thanks for the interest in what B&Bs are doing in light of the gas price increases.” -- Bobbi Hoerter, Cheney House B&B, Ashland, NH

“I am aware there is never any guarantee in publicity, but I figure we keep trying and sometimes we are surprised where articles show up. Thank you for your continued efforts on behalf of the B&B community.” -- Mercie Normand, Brunswick Bed & Breakfast, Brunswick, ME

“Thanks for all of your marketing help- you guys are great.”  -- Patty Hufford, Penny Farthing Inn, St. Augustine, FL 

“Thought you’d like to know: Got a call from Rich Beattie at the New York Times regarding the gallon a bag offer. Said he’s doing a foliage piece for Friday’s Escape section and asked a few questions. He’d seen the USA Today piece.”  -- Dick Matthews, The Hummingbird Inn, Goshen, VA

“Well, maybe our gas specials didn’t make the cut for the Oakland Press, but glad to see it made the New York Times!” -- Dave Drees, Kingsley House, Fennville, MI


Recent BedandBreakfast.com Media Coverage

Many thanks to those who responded to recent Publicity Leads when we asked for information about one-tank getaways and gas-saving specials. We received close to 250 responses.  As you’ll read below, the information provided went to USA TODAY, resulting in a nice mention for BedandBreakfast.com and its members.  From there, the New York Times picked it up and expanded the story with a lead article in the Friday Escapes Section. 


BedandBreakfast.com stories resulted in over 42 million media impressions in August and September. If this coverage had been purchased as advertising, the value would exceed $102,000.  Here is some of the recent coverage:

Our own Eric Goldreyer was featured in an article about ELG Hospitality recently in the Austin Business Journal
. Eric was quoted: “We built our own technology, which is where I think we really shine," says Goldreyer, CEO of ELG Hospitality. "We understood the difference between hoteliers and innkeepers."

In the September 16 issue of USA TODAY Travel Reporter Laura Bly included this information from BedandBreakfast.com’s wrap-up of gas-saving packages: “Some innkeepers aren't taking any chances. Since Labor Day, about 250 members of BedandBreakfast.com for the first time have launched fall gas promotions and reduced rates, such as a 20% ‘gas relief’ discount at the Runnymede Country Inn in Texas Hill Country and a gallon of gas for every bag of leaves collected from the lawn at the Hummingbird Inn in Goshen, Virginia. The deal comes with a five-bag limit.  The online version is the story links to BedandBreakfast.com, giving 5.1 million readers easy access to the site.

A freelance writer for the New York Times who’d received BedandBreakfast.com’s press release about B&Bs that give gas (quite literally), saw the story in USA TODAY and decided to expand it for the Escapes section of the Times. The story ran on Friday, September 30.

From there, Elizabeth Arneston, author of About.com’s B&B Guide, featured the story as her lead on October 3.

John Hilferty’s column about BedandBreakfast.com members’ Senior Packages ran in 35 regional issues of  The Daily Herald, distributed in the Chicago area.

Sandy Soule wrote a travel column for Michigan’s Oak Press Travel Page with advice for first-time B&B goers.

And the Best of BedandBreakfast.com Awards appeared in regional issues of California’s Press-Enterprise throughout August.

This Month's Sponsor

Online Trade Show

Click to visit our newest vendor members:

  • Blue Mountain:  Importer, roaster and distributor of Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee. We offer the world's finest coffee, freshly roasted and promptly delivered worldwide.

  • TravelAngel Translation Services: Attract more European guests to your Bed & Breakfast by offering a German version of your website!

More vendor info...

Gift Certificates

BedandBreakfast.com Gift Certificates have changed to an electronic format. Funds for redeemed certificates will be transferred directly into your bank account within four business days! No more certificates to mail! Don't miss out! To join the 3900 participating inns, just log in to your home base with your property ID and password, or click here for more information.

Traffic statistics

Log in with your property ID and password for details on the number of page impressions and click-throughs your B&B has received as a result of all BedandBreakfast.com online marketing, including property listings, Featured Property, and Inn of the Month advertising. More information

Member Information

To update your entry, post specials, and renew your membership, please log in with your property ID and password. Can't remember your password? Click here, then enter your property ID and we'll email it to you. Don't like your password? Once you're logged in to Home Base, just click "Membership," select "change password" (#7 in dropdown menu), and choose another that's easier to remember. More information

Inns for Sale

"We advertised our B&B in your Inns for Sale section in January, and started getting inquires a week later. In February, a couple came from Florida to visit us in Cat Spring, Texas. We made a deal, and they begin officially on April the 5th as the new owners. What you are doing really works." Sunny and John Snyder. Read more...

Online Bookings

Taking real-time, online reservations is the most effective way to transform your BedandBreakfast.com listing into a 24/7 sales engine.  For details, log in to your home base with your property ID and password, and click “Online Reservations.”

Innkeepers Information Center

Need more info? You’ll find lots of educational articles on our site for your convenience.


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