In today’s competitive market, a strong Public Relations strategy could be the one asset that makes your vacation rental brand stand out. Rentals United asked the vacation rental PR pro, Jessica Gillingham about the impact of PR on rental businesses, how to approach journalists and which publications professional managers should focus on.
Public Relations is a management discipline that focuses on developing a brand’s reputation, building relationships with key stakeholders and supporting the communication of its core value proposition to influential audiences. Vacation rental PR can have a fundamental impact because it helps to create trust between you and your customers, which in turn supports your sales and marketing processes. The benefits include reaching new markets, increasing the authority of your online presence, attracting targeted and quality leads, growing your reputation and developing your vacation rental brand.
Most enterprise-level or ambitious property management companies invest in a PR strategy and implement programs for their businesses because they know that it pays off. They may have someone ‘in-house’ who looks after their PR, use an external consultant or agency or a combination of both.
There are several publications that all professional property managers should have on their reading lists in order to learn more about what’s going on in the industry.
There are two distinct types of publications and subsequent PR strategies that short-term rental property managers may consider: those that are consumer-facing (B2C) and those that focus on business relationships (B2B).
Consumer travel publications include the travel sections of national press, travel magazines and travel influencers (such as Instagrammers and bloggers). Their audience is also made up of travelers so they want to cover stories that relate to experiences that their readers will find either inspiring or relatable. A consumer travel publication will rarely want to write about a company, but it will be interested in including a vacation rental option in the ‘where to stay’ sections of a longer piece about a destination or travel experience.
On the B2B side, business publications, trade publications and other media opportunities may also be interested in supporting a property management company in raising its profile within the industry. They look for stories that relate to industry insight, growth, disruption and data-focused storytelling.
Short Term Rentalz is a fantastic resource for getting the latest news. VRM Intel does some really good deep-dives on educational elements for property managers – although it has a US focus. VRMA publishes a trade publication (print for members and online for all) called Arrival which also covers education and some insight.
There are a number of good industry blogs and podcasts including Heather Bayer’s Vacation Rental Success Podcast as well as Rentals United’s own The Secret Sauce – CEO Interviews, hosted by Vanessa de Souza Lage.
For consumer travel – there are literally hundreds of potential opportunities for exposure. Obviously everyone wants to be in the big national or international publications, but smaller niche travel blogs or publications targeted at a specific destination, travel experience or traveller type can also be very effective
The number one way of securing coverage is by having a rock-solid story idea or hook. Without that, all you’re going to be doing is spamming a journalist with self-promotion, which is the quickest way to put off a publication and ruin a budding relationship!
Journalists and editors get approached all day, every day by companies wanting them to write about their businesses. However, a media publication’s obligation is to provide compelling content for its audience, not to write about your company.
Stories can evolve around different elements. A pitch that is based on solid data that then tells a story can be very powerful.
Questions to ask yourself before pitching to a journalist are: is what am I saying newsworthy, relevant, different or unique?
Journalists are like everyone else: they are just trying to do a good job. A good PR outreach actually helps a journalist do their job because you are providing them with potential story ideas, sources for insight or industry-specific knowledge that they may not have.
Only approach a journalist if you have something worthwhile to say. Be brief and to the point. Do your research. Check out what publications they typically write for, what stories they cover and if there is a mutually beneficial potential relationship.
Find out how they like to be pitched (they will often make that clear) – i.e via email or Twitter. Make sure you always follow up with easy contact information if they want to know more. And, above all, be quick and responsive! Today’s media landscape moves fast and a quick response with relevant information can make or break whether you get the coverage.
Abode PR works with a range of different businesses within the vacation and short-term rental industry including tech solutions, enterprise-level property managers and ambitious, fast-growing management companies. We have worked with some of the biggest names in the industry (including Rentals United).
Essentially, we help businesses develop their PR strategy with the aim of supporting their wider business goals, and then implement that strategy into tactical plans.
When I launched Abode PR back in early 2017, the industry was still relatively small and even (dare I say it) a little bit obscure. It wasn’t even that long ago!
Many of the major companies (both property managers and suppliers) were little-known startups. There was only a handful of industry events and not much was written about short-term rentals in the press.
Today, ‘alternative’ accommodation is mainstream, growth and transformation are happening at a near-constant rate with new players entering the market with fresh solutions and offerings.
There are still many challenges to overcome as an industry, but there are also huge opportunities for progressive companies. It’s a really dynamic and exciting industry to be in, and I love it!
Jessica is the director of Abode PR, a boutique public relations agency and consultancy working with clients in the international short-term rental, hospitality tech and PropTech space.
Jessica writes and speaks regularly on topics related to public relations, the short-term rental industry and the travel industry.