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“Food Tourism and Creativity” – Passport Travel Marketing & PR Podcast #031

"Food Tourism and Creativity" – Passport Travel Marketing & PR Podcast #031

We start a conversation with Edward Harris from Valley Forge Tourism about how to creatively promote a destination’s food tourism scene and then talk about encouraging creativity in general.

Edward Harris is the Chief Marketing Officer at the Valley Forge Tourism & Convention Board, representing Montgomery County, PA.  Prior to joining the Tourism Board, Harris served in brand development leadership roles at a select group of iconic brands including Converse, Timberland, Under Armour, Destination Maternity Corporation, and eBay.  Mr. Harris also serves as Chairman of the Marketing Advisory Board at the Haub School of Business at Saint Joseph’s University, where he is an adjunct professor.  A native of Philadelphia, PA, Harris holds an MBA from Boston College and a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Saint Joseph’s.

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Hosts: Leif Pettersen of Leif Pettersen PR and Chris Christensen of BloggerBridge.com and AmateurTraveler.com.

"Food Tourism and Creativity" – Passport Travel Marketing & PR Podcast #031 #travel #marketing #destinations #podcast #foodtourism

What do Travel Bloggers Charge for Posts – survey results

At a recent TBEX travel blogger conference I attended a session called “Can We Talk About Rates” where there was some frustration because people expected to learn what bloggers were charing for sponsored posts… but they didn’t have that data. So… I volunteered that I would run some survey to collect and share that data with the community.

Thanks to all who completed the latest survey. We had 60 responses.

Page Views for those who responded:

A DMO for a destination you’ve already visited contacts you and asks you to create another post about that destination, no travel required. How much do you charge for JUST the blog post?

Here is a scatter plot of the answers where the x column is the bottom of the page view range.

A DMO contacts you and invites you on a 3-day FAM trip, all expenses covered. How much do you charge for the blog post you create afterwards?

Bloggers with < 10,000 page views


Bloggers with 10,000-99,000 page views per month


Bloggers with > 100,000 page views per month

There is a lot of “it depends” in the comments in the results which is of course the reality of the situation.

I was just invited on a Botswana safari which would have cost me about $6000 if it had not been sponsored. So that’s the kind of thing bloggers may be comparing your opportunity to.

If you have over 100,000 page views a month (or in my case podcast downloads) then you aren’t saying yes to every opportunity. Some as you can see in the comments won’t do a FAM trip even if you do pay them.

Here is the whole data set including comments:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/19OzSKXn8rbqT9KQUoWS7SA0Afi9-3a9qYAaQW17iz1o/edit?usp=sharing

What do you want to know?

2018 Travel Marketing and PR Survey Results

At the end of December we put out a simple question to our list of travel marketing & PR people. It had only 5 questions:

  • What did you do less of in 2017 than you did in 2016?
  • What did you do more of in 2017 than you did in 2016?
  • What will you do less of in 2018 than you did in 2017?
  • What will you do more of in 2018 than you did in 2017?
  • What will you need help with in 2018?

Here are the results (click images to enlarge):

2017

2018

Conclusions

A couple of things jump out at me from these survey results:

  • This is not good news for traditional media. More companies cut their TV spending last year that raised it. Many more companies spent less money last year on print and radio advertising in particular.  In 2018 no companies planned to spent more on Print, Radio or TV. None.
  • Press Releases also seem to be seeing a decline. I won’t miss them.
  • 2017 was great news for Facebook. Lots more people were spending money on Facebook, although is not quite as strong a trend in 2018.
  • A lot of people plan to do more video in 2018.
  • It would be interesting to know if either the Facebook ad spend or the video (much of which is probably targeted for Facebook) will be affected by the recent decision to decrease the amount of company content and the amount of video that shows up in the user’s Facebook feed.
  • The other huge trend in 2018 is content, whether it be video, influencer marketing, content marketing or blogging. Whatever you call it you have to have more content this year.
  • As a podcaster I continue to be surprised how few people think about getting into podcasting. Given how social media can easily change an algorithm and undermine your strategy. Given 25% open rate of email is considered good. The 100% deliverability and long attention span of podcast listeners is something I would not dismiss.

How does this compare with your 2018 plans?

2017 / 2018 Travel Marketing and PR survey

As you wrap up with 2017 and plan for 2018, we at the Passport Travel Marketing and PR Podcast / BloggerBridge.com want to hear from you. Specifically we are looking to hear from people in Travel Marketing and/or Travel PR.

We are conducting a survey about 2017 and 2018 and how the industry is changing and yes we will share the results with you if you include an email.

We only have 5 questions in this survey. Hey, we know you are busy.

https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/FT7H85K

Feel free to share this survey with anyone else in the field.

Thanks!

Chris Christensen

BloggerBridge.com Updated Pricing

BloggerBridge.com but it is a tool used by a number of companies in the travel space (Context Travel, VisitBritain, VisitBelgium, AirBerlin, etc), to help identify, attract and manage bloggers. They are using these bloggers to create content to attract visitors to their company.

I wanted to let you know some updates for BloggerBridge.com:

1) We launched some new pricing for BloggerBridge.com this week. See below.

  • BloggerBridge.com has the profiles for thousands of bloggers
  • We track the schedules for 1200+ bloggers and can alert you when they are heading your way
  • We know the Google Analytics for 100s of bloggers
  • You can use BloggerBridge.com to advertise opportunities to bloggers
  • You can use blogger lists, projects and campaign tracking to help manager your work with bloggers

2) We are developing advanced features for managing bloggers. If you have experience with or interest in coordinating the work of lots of bloggers I would love to talk to you more. I will be looking for beta partners in early 2017.

3) We have also added a “Done For You” level of service for the many companies that I talk to that are not really looking for a tool, they just want someone to do the work for them.

Please let me know if you have any questions.

Chris Christensen

Why I Ignored Your Press Release – A Blogger Perspective

Why I Ignored Your Press Release - A Blogger Perspective

In addition to running BloggerBridge.com, I have an award winning travel blog and podcast called Amateur Traveler, this post is written from the viewport of the 11 years I have spent as a travel blogger.

This is not one of those posts that complains about the quality of PR pitches that I get. Don’t get me wrong, I have enough material for that post but I thought it might be more useful to look at some of the underlying assumptions for PR pitches and whether those assumptions are valid  for bloggers.

As I understand the PR world there is the reality and the theory of PR. While the reality behind a PR pitch is often “my client wants me to announce this”, the theory is that a press release provides value it the following ways:

1) Reporters have to write a certain number of stories and are short of ideas so a Pitch can provide story ideas

2) News outlets are always in search of the latest news, I mean hey it’s right there in the name. A PR pitch is a great way to bring news to a reporters attention.

3) Reporters, freelancers in particular, are always looking for a new story angle that will  catch the eye of an editor. A good pitch can have a good story angle.

How are Bloggers the Same?

When you pitch me you are basically pitching my audience. What would they find interesting. I don’t see that as any different from pitching mainstream media. And of course most of the really bad pitches I get forget this basic thing. If I write you back:

“I blog about travel”

…then you forgot.

I get a lot of pitches. That too is the same as newspaper editors or freelancers I know. You are trying to stand out in a crowd.

So how are bloggers any different?

Many Hats

There is no one way to characterize bloggers. They have a greater variety of motivations to write in the first place. One big difference is that a blogger is often the publisher, the editor and the reporter all in one. That means that when you pitch me you are pitching the publisher as well as the reporter. I can guarantee a story will be written but I am thinking, how will this make me money, not just is this an interesting story. With sponsored posts that answer is obvious, but with any other story I have to believe that this post will get me a lot of traffic that I can monetize in some fashion.

Also many bloggers, like me, are doing blogging on the side in addition to some other full time or part time job. So when you pitch me your pitch also has to be good enough, to be interesting enough to write instead of making money.

Because blogging is just one of the things that I do, I have a backlog of story ideas. I checked recently and found I had over 250 different story ideas. In addition to podcasts and videos, I try and put out one solid blog post a week. That means even if I stop traveling today or stop getting new ideas tomorrow, I have literally 5 years worth of ideas. I don’t need more story ideas. What I lack is time not ideas. And yes, those bad pitches just take away from my most precious resource.

Deadlines

You can safely predict that tonight’s local news show will be an hour long and could safely predict about how many pages will be in tomorrow’s newspaper or next month’s issue of your favorite magazine. They all come out on a deadline and on a slow news cycle may need some help filling up the space. Blogs have no such deadlines except those that may be self imposed by the blogger, and there is no white space or dead air that needs filling.

Shelf Life

The other thing that is different about my blog, and many blogs, is that what I am looking at is stories that have good shelf life. I want a story that is good tomorrow but is still valuable in 5 years. Much of my traffic comes from search engines so even if I am not promoting an older story, often then most popular post on my blog wasn’t written this year.

This is the good news about working with bloggers. Your newspaper article will be at the bottom of the birdcage tomorrow. Your TV spot forgotten by next Thursday. Even most online mainstream media sites delete stories after a year or so (madness).

But, this actually means that I am not looking for news. That is to say I am not looking for a story that is timely so much as I am looking for one that is timeless and useful. So ever one who pitches me a new hotel opening or a hotel deal is pitching me something that is generally of no use to me. Why would I spend my limited amount of time available for writing on a story that is obsolete next week or next month?

Conclusion

Before you pitch another blogger, look at what you are sending and see if it makes sense. If you aren’t sure, ask. See if you can learn what might be interesting. Sending really bad pitches will get your email treated like spam. Sending boring pitches will at best, get it ignored.

How about picking a hand full of bloggers this week who you would really like to work with and spending a few minutes asking them what kind of things they look for? What have you got to lose?

FIR #31: Bring Back The Tourists!

Chris Christensen, our CEo, was a guest on this week’s episode of the For Immediate Release podcast – FIR #31: Bring Back The Tourists! Topics included crisis management communications for destination. We look at some good and bad examples.

  • The panel included:
    BloggerBridge CEO Chris Christensen (who also hosts the Amateur Traveler podcast),
  • Voce Communications Senior VP Christopher Barger (who is about to open Christopher Barger Communications)
  • CustomScoop founder Chip Griffin
  • Shel Holtz – host of For Immediate Release

Topics included…

  • The implications for communicators of the growing trend of corporations embracing gay rights and issuing public statements opposing statewide legislation that restricts those rights
  • Egypt’s plan to win back tourists despite no recognition in the plan of terror risks, while Mexico has found a way to address the Zika virus
  • The widely reported story of an executive who deleted his entire startup with a single line of code, which turned out to be a publicity stunt
  • The decline in personal posts on Facebook and how it affects communicators who have invested heavily in Facebook as a channel
  • Dan York’s report on Facebook’s F8 developer conference
    The pivot to video by many news organizations and whether company communicators need to follow suit
  • Communication jobs opening up focused on writing the scripts chatbots use

Blogger Outreach – Thinking Beyond the Press Release

For Immediate Release

I have only been blogging for a little over 11 years, and my background is not traditional journalism.

But, the theory goes, a traditional journalist is paid on salary at is always looking for new story ideas to fill the many column inches of writing that are required from them. The idea behind a press release them is that you’re trying to provide story ideas for someone in need of them.

I know that there have always been good press releases and bad press releases. A good press release alerts you to a story that would be of interest to your readers. A bad press release is usually more related to the story you wish your boss wishes people would be interested in. A really bad press release is poorly written, poorly targeted, and just plain boring.

When targeting bloggers with press releases, however, there are additional issues.

Different Economic Model

In traditional journalism, the stories are supported by advertising. It’s advertising that pays journalist salaries. It’s advertising that pays for the means of production and it’s advertising that pays for editors, marketing, and office space.

Few, if any, of the bloggers that I know make their living from advertising. Bloggers tend to make their living from other jobs, other work, affiliate revenue, consulting, or their own products. I find it more common that a professional blogger has a backlog of story ideas, photos and they haven’t used, but what they lack it’s time. That is particularly true of the blogger who is living is earned from some other job.

What a press release asks for from a blogger is their most critical resource, their time. What it delivers in value, needs to be measured against that.

Different Release Long Term Value

The press release was invented in a time when most stories were written in newspapers and magazines. Both had a certain number of column inches to fill on a regular basis. The hot story today is at the bottom of the birdcage the next day. This meant that timely news was the most important.

For many if not most bloggers, the most read post on their site this week was not written this week. It may have been written years ago but continues to get search engine traffic, referred traffic and possibly even social media traffic. This means that a blogger has a bigger incentive for creating deep and valuable content than they do for creating timely content.

On my blog I am specifically not looking for any stories that will be obsolete in a week a month or maybe even in a year. That means I don’t write about sales. I don’t write about what’s happening this weekend or even in the next few months. I am much more interested in the annual festival than the new festival.

Global Audience

If you are looking for a local audience, working with a blogger is not always the right choice. The internet gives us readers, listeners and viewers around the world. My own Amateur Traveler podcast is used to teach English at Oxford University and in the German and Canadian school systems. It is also used to test English comprehension by the Thailand Foreign Ministry.

For a blogger with a national or international audience the same story that you pitch to the local newspaper might not be as valuable. A good blogger is always asking the question about what does their audience need or want. In the travel space, I have to realize that when I talk about a destination, the majority of my audience would have to fly there. That becomes a filter then for me. Is this a destination worth the cost, trouble and time to fly to?

The issue is not just relevance to the reader but also uniqueness to both the reader and to the search engine. It used to be that if the San Francisco Chronicle and the San Antonio Express both picked up and ran the same story that no one cared. In fact the wire services were even created to promote that duplication. Understand that a professional blogger is looking for a story that they can make their own.

Some Recent Press Releases for my Travel blog

I received about 50-100 press releases last week. I learned:

  • California’s state bus is officially named: “Golden State.” Seriously?
  • News about 2 horse races and 2 people races, even though in 10 years I have not written about races of any kind
  • Who the new Dean of Hospitality and Tourism is at a top school is (travel, but why do I care?)
  • That one hotel I have never heard of join a hotel group that I have also never heard of
  • News about a high tech light bulb… twice… possibly interesting but I write about travel
  • The news that Fisher Unitech has been given authorization to sell stratasys 3D printers and services in the state of West Virginia… I just marked that one as spam
  • An infographic for Star Wars (I write about travel)
  • That one company (who I don’t know and who is not in the travel space) has a new sales leaders (that I don’t care about)
  • Two new suitcases from different companies… hey that’s travel related!

Honestly some PR people seem to assume that the more that they write me the more likely I will write about their stories but I think the opposite may be true. I unsubscribe or for the most egregious mark them as spam. Yes, you can buy a list of bloggers and email them twice a week, but that doesn’t make the story more interesting.

Conclusion

If you’ve ever sent a press release to a blogger and thought it unprofessional when they respond in anger or frustration, consider also that you may not understand their profession.

Before you sent that email, did you pause and consider “what value am I bringing?”.

Has Your “Earned Media” Mindset Set You Up For Failure

Has Your -Earned Media- Mindset Set You

When I was a kid the world was a simpler place. There were 3 channels on the TV, people listened to drive time radio on their way to work, and drank their coffee while reading the  morning paper. The lines between public relations and marketing were simple too. PR got you “earned media”, stories in the press, and marketing bought ads on popular TV shows and magazines. The problem was not knowing what people were watching or listening to, but how much could would the ads cost.

The World Has Changed for Marketing

In case you didn’t notice, the world changed. In this two screen equipped, Tivo ad-skipping enabled, ad blocker installed, social media addicted world it is hard to get anyone’s attention. If you do get their attention they are much less likely to take your word for anything. They prefer the opinions of strangers on Tripadvisor, Yelp or Amazon reviews to anything you have to say.  Even when you find their favorite program on TV and they don’t manage to skip your ad, it is only because they were too busy on their phone to notice. What’s a marketer to do? I propose that your PR group may be your best friend, but… not the way you used to do things.

The World Has Changed for PR Too

In the good old days when the story came out a PR rep would add a clipping to their clipping book and their job was done. After all, what else could they do? It’s not like they could sell more issues of a magazine if it had a great story about their company, hotel, restaurant, product or destination. Right? And unless the article was an award like “Car of the Year” , “Best New Movie”, or “Top Beach Destination” it was unlikely that a story would influence what was happening in marketing.

But… what if you could do the modern equivalent of selling more copies of the magazine that has that great story? What if you could show stories that promote you from a “trusted voice” to your potential customers? Shouldn’t you? Wouldn’t you? You can. You should. Let’s talk about how.

Setup for Failure

Most companies I have dealt with are not setup with the assumption that their PR will be a success. Think about it. If you knew your PR would lead to great stories, what should you do in the modern world to prepare for that success? If your answer is we would keep track of the story in our clippings book, but your TV is not still showing only 3 channels, then you might want to rethink that.

Every time I create an episode of my award winning Amateur Traveler podcast about a specific destination I send an email to the tourism board that I just talked to 10,000+ people for over half an hour about why travelers should visit their destination. About half even acknowledge the email. Most don’t do anything with it. Why? Because they don’t have a plan for what to do with stories besides making a note they happened.

These are the same companies that will favorite a tweet about them, so you know they saw it, but won’t retweet it to their audience because they already had a plan for what they were tweeting today.

I actually had a destination respond to my email this week with their press trip guidelines:

  • Complimentary stays are provided at the discretion of the host hotels and are subject to availability.
  • _________ is not able to request complimentary accommodations or amenities with less than one month’s notice of proposed travel.
  • If complimentary accommodations are not available then the _________ can try to secure a media rate for the journalists. However, the _________ is not able to cover the cost of accommodations, so the cost will be passed onto/incurred by the journalists
  • _________ does not cover air travel to _________, or ground transportation within _________.
  • _________ may not be able to accommodate spouses, children and/or visitors accompanying journalists.
  • _________ policy prohibits the hosting of journalists if the primary purpose of the trip is leisure or holiday travel.
  • Meals accompanied by an _________ CVB staff member will be covered, but all visiting press should plan to pay for some portion of their meals during their visit. We will also need for you to please provide the following prior to press tour consideration:
  • Documentation of a minimum total viewership of 100,000 (the audience of one outlet, or several – only for journalists requesting comp accommodations)
  • Letter of assignment on outlet letterhead, with info on demographics, circulation, and intended scope of coverage. In addition, you can find comprehensive information online in our press kit in terms of recommendations as a great start for your coverage while you are here…

But… I hadn’t asked for a press trip and as a thank you note this left a bit to be desired. Honestly, it left me with a strong desire never to create any content about this destination again. What could they have done differently?

Plan For Success

Every company should have a plan for promoting stories, even when they didn’t write that story, and even when they didn’t even know that story was being written.

These days you can:

• Retweet! For the sake of all that is good and holy, take advantage of content that drops on your door step. Post it on Google+, twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and that new social media network that is coming next week. If someone told you you looked pretty today, wouldn’t you tell someone?

• Include stories about you in your email newsletters

• Set aside money to boost tweets or Facebook posts. Boosting a story that someone else wrote about you will look less like an ad and therefore will more easily get through your audience’s ad blindness. Even $25 will put that story in front of thousands or more readers. Load your email list into Facebook as an Custom Audience, ready to promote to and, better yet, create a Lookalike Audience in Facebook’s Ads Manager that will help you find people just like the ones on your mailing list.

• Create PR buzz about stories. Did the story find a new hook that might  get you even more press?

Whose job is it in your organization to take advantage of the great stories that PR will get you?

Conclusion

The old model where PR and marketing are not coordinated is an out-dated model. Some of the best “advertising” for your company is being written by your friends in traditional and online media. Take advantage of it!

Earned Media Mindset

TBEX Europe 2015 Bloggers Report

One of the uses of BloggerBridge.com is to facilitate speed networking at conferences like the recent TBEX Europe 2015 in Lloret de Mar in Costa Brava in Spain. This report gives you some idea of the blogger attendees at the conference.

Not all of the attendees who are bloggers who are eligible for speed networking take part, but enough do to get an interesting picture of the attendees. All numbers below except the total count of bloggers and blogs come from the 254 bloggers who took the time to fill out their profile.

The other thing to be aware of is that the country report is what country the blogger has expressed as their home base. This gets tricky with travel bloggers as they move around a lot. So some “US” bloggers are based in Spain, Vietnam, etc. and some “UK” bloggers in France, the U.S., etc.

Bloggers 446
Bloggers with profiles 254
Bloggers with Schedules 147
Blogs 499
Gender – Male 61
Gender – Female 183

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 3.42.58 PM

Ages
20 1
21 0
22 1
23 3
24 4
25 5
26 9
27 6
28 9
29 17
30 5
31 9
32 16
33 11
34 6
35 7
36 5
37 7
38 3
39 2
40 8
41 6
42 0
43 2
44 2
45 3
46 0
47 5
48 1
49 1
50 5
51 1
52 4
53 5
54 2
55 1
56 2
57 2
58 1
59 0
60 4
61 4
62 1
63 0
64 1
65 0
66 0
67 1
68 0
69 0
70 1
Social
Twitter Followers 2768390
Facebook Likes 1402061
Google+ Followers 5513470
Instragram Followers 659440
Pinterest Followers 973995
Blogs with Tags 221
Tags
Travel 201
Travel > Adventure 119
Travel > Arts & Culture 109
Travel > Culinary 104
Travel > Photography 103
Travel > Luxury 86
Travel > Solo 81
Travel > Women’s Travel 79
Travel > Budget 76
Travel > Backpacking 62
Travel > Walking Tours 62
Travel > Couples 61
Travel > Hiking 59
Travel > Eco-Travel 57
Travel > Flashpacking 51
Travel > Spa Vacations 44
Travel > Family-Friendly 41
Travel > Cruising 40
Travel > Hostelling 39
Travel > Voluntourism 31
Food and Drink 27
Travel > Bicycling 21
Arts & Entertainment 19
Travel > Business Travel 19
Society & Culture 12
Food and Drink > Restaurants 10
Travel > Wedding Destinations 9
Travel > Consumer Issues 9
Food and Drink > Recipes 9
Food and Drink > Food Photography 8
Food and Drink > Wine 7
Food and Drink > Regional / Ethnic Cooking 6
Food and Drink > Food Product Reviews 6
Arts & Entertainment > Art 6
Food and Drink > Beer 6
Parenting 5
Travel > People with Disabilities 5
Arts & Entertainment > Photography 5
Fashion/Style 4
Technology 4
Business 4
Society & Culture > Pop Culture 4
Travel > LGBT 3
Society & Culture > Current Events 3
Education 3
Food and Drink > Special Diets 3
Business > Marketing 2
Food and Drink > Cocktails 2
Technology > Mobile Web Technology 1
Technology > Apps 1
Arts & Entertainment > Music/TV 1
Arts & Entertainment > Sports 1
Business > Entrepreneurship 1
Business > New Media/Social Media 1
Religion & Spirtuality 1
Politics 1
Countries
US 114
GB 58
ES 55
Unknown 44
DE 20
NL 20
CA 20
IT 18
FR 11
AU 9
IE 6
CH 6
TR 5
BE 5
CZ 5
NZ 4
BR 4
PT 3
AE 3
AT 3
ZA 3
GR 3
DK 2
HU 2
MA 2
MT 2
KE 1
CY 1
SK 1
BG 1
ID 1
RU 1
HR 1
FI 1
TT 1
NO 1
SI 1
LT 1
BZ 1
PL 1
EG 1
PR 1
MX 1
AZ 1
ER 1