Do I Need A Media Room on My Destination Website? Uh… YES!December 2, 2021 | By: Karyl Leigh Barnes
With such a fragmented media landscape, destination marketing organizations (DMOs) are asking whether or not a media room is still needed on their destination website. It may seem like travel journalists will just use a search engine or social media to research their stories. However, that’s not entirely the case and having a dedicated media space is worth the upkeep.
During a recent professional development session at the SATW annual conference, industry leaders spoke about the reasons destination websites must rethink cutting their digital media rooms.
Communications professional Jennifer Sweeney was on hand and summed up her thoughts. “The most important things about an online press room are to make sure the information is easy to find on your site, has the most current information and very clear contact information,” she said.
Travel writer Spud Hilton noted, “Frankly – if it’s not easy to find on your site, I’ll look elsewhere and that often means not including your destination at all in a story.”
Let’s dive into those comments a bit more.
Why Question a Media Room?
It’s fair to consider shifting resources and attention to other outlets instead of a traditional media room. Many destinations have invested resources into creating blogs, opting for more of a storytelling approach, or even a consumer-oriented one, with their content. This content is recent, fresh and ripe for review by travel journalists.
Then you have the DMO’s social media content. Social media presences are the most up to date ways for many travel journalists to identify what’s new in a destination. To be fair, travel journalists can’t always be certain when your destination press room was last updated. But a social media post from yesterday gets them updated quickly and efficiently.
You Still Need a Media Room
A press room, however, still holds lots of potential for engaging the travel media. Blogs and website content are all good and useful for visitors to your destination’s website, but this content can be repurposed and repackaged for PR purposes very efficiently. And the press room is the place to showcase it.
Look at the blog topics and information you share on your website. Can it have a second life as a media pitch with a more timely angle? Consider creating a trend pitch about new openings based on a consumer-facing blog post, for example, to leverage your content and keep it fresh. In order to do this, however, you’ll need a media room.
Use Media Rooms Wisely
Media rooms are also educated places for all of the information that may not interest travelers, but that writers want to know. A list of FAQ – real ones that you actually get asked over and over – will create a useful resource for journalists. Just ask Spud Hilton!
Industry news that may not be useful to travelers can also live in the media room. New developments or redesigns in urban landscapes, hotel openings, new attractions, or other upcoming events that aren’t yet of use to travelers can land here. Travel writers like to know what’s coming in the future, even if travelers can’t yet book them. Use the media room to give them what they want and need.
Inspire travel writers with story starters to get them thinking about writing about your destination. Sure, you’re pitching them through email and at deskside appointments, but what about the writers you don’t meet? Give them a place to find what’s new and upcoming in the approaching months so that they can feel inspired. Travelers may not care about these sorts of angles – think of new sustainable initiatives or new investments in your destination, for example – but they are gold for travel journalists.
And for the Basics
There are also the basics that travel writers seek that may not have a home on your website. For example, travel writers need accessible high-quality images to publish their stories. Make it easy for them to find them. As a travel journalist, the instinct will be to search in a media room. If there’s no media room, the recourse is anything but obvious.
And if they’re seeking images and can’t find them in a nonexistent media room, they’ll want to contact you. But where do publicists list their email and phone contact if there’s no media room? They need a clear line of communication if you hope to get coverage for your destination. Sweeney said, “A journalist having to search for the correct direct email address or having to wait hours or overnight for a reply could be what keeps your destination out of a story.”
Make it clear and give them a space to call their own to avoid missing out on coverage.
Sweeney also told the SATW attendees that the pandemic has changed so much, and a press room is a good place to share information to that effect. What a destination is doing for visitors is important, but you need a media room to make it clear what the destination is doing for journalists, as well.
Thinking about revamping your website? Make sure a media room is part of your strategy. At DCI, we have more than 60 years of experience helping destinations create the right connections with media. Get in touch with Karyl Leigh Barnes at [email protected] to learn more about tapping into our insight.