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Resolve to Roll-Out New PR Measurements in 2022

Travel publicists are constantly working to provide a clear way to tell their destination CEOs, we’re doing our job. It’s not always easy, but despite the headwinds the travel PR industry is creating new PR measurements, means and norms for quantifying successes and results.

Unlike advertising, where you pay for what you get, there is an art to editorial placement. This means there is also an art to measuring the effectiveness of travel PR on consumer behavior.

As new technology and new practices develop, so must the methods that travel pr professionals use to track the effectiveness of their travel public relations efforts. We don’t track internet speed with a stopwatch so it seems ridiculous to measure PR efforts with the same tools used since the 1940s. While we respect the foundations that destination CEOs have come to expect from their travel PR teams, we also know that we can do our job better and provide the stats to back it up. 

It’s time for travel PR professionals to make a few small deliberate changes to the way success is measured and lean in to educating our destination CEOs about these remodeled best practices.

Committing to a few new PR measurement resolutions for 2022 can help get us all there.

Skip Ad Equivalency

Using ad equivalency is archaic. It simply doesn’t demonstrate how your media placements are benefiting the destination’s marketing strategy. It might have worked back in the good old days of print media when glossy magazines and thick newspapers were the only ways people saw ads and those ad rates were fairly standard. 

Today, however, it’s not really saying much at all with so much digital ad spending out there. Published rates fluctuate dramatically from media platform to media platform based on how much you buy, when you buy it and who you’re competing with for the spend. So those advertising equivalency numbers destination CEOs love, they really don’t mean anything.

Furthermore, ad equivalency doesn’t really prove that you’re getting their message out there. Like Queen Elsa belts in Frozen, “Let it go!”

Measure Quality, Not Just Quantity

Numbers are easy to show to destination CEOs. They tell a quick, understandable story. We like the concept of using numbers. But travel PR efforts are really about quality at the end of the day. One onpointe travel media placement can have a bigger impact on consumer behavior than ten mediocre ones.

Measuring quality, however, isn’t as easy as creating a few spreadsheets. When creating reports and measurements, think about ways to show that your media results are not just numerous, but impactful. You have the chance to define your own terms here and create your own standards by which to evaluate quality.

When you hit the right target by reaching a desired audience, or a story comes out with the right message and not just a mention, these are indications of quality that you can track. And when a story comes out ahead of an event or ahead of a destination’s slowest season, increasing awareness and demand, that’s a quality result to underscore, even if it’s only worth $5000 in ad equivalency.

Creating new PR measurements to evaluate and report on quality is something we all need to embrace going forward, because advertising equivalence isn’t telling the whole story anymore.

Drive and Measure Actions

For destinations, editorial placement is about generating interest and, eventually, bookings. No news there. With so many digital tools in place, however, we can more easily create lines between travel PR efforts and actions taken by prospective visitors.

Measure conversions with links in stories that lead to booking pages or other sites linked to the DMO. Track these metrics and you’ll have numbers that do something tangible for you, and to tell your destination partners that your media placements are driving actions. 

Or do some research into perceptions of your destination or the specific topics you’re pitching before and after a PR campaign and see if there are changes in perception. It’s not always easy to know how a certain type of story affects prospective travelers, but trying to capture perceptions offers insight.

Is it harder to measure quality compared to advertising equivalency? Yes! Yet adopting these practices and applying them to your PR efforts will be a shift that benefits both your work and your destination marketing goals at the same.

Looking to learn more about how new PR measurements can help you and your clients both reach your goals more clearly? DCI has more than 60 years working in destination PR, and we’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. Contact Karyl Leigh Barnes at [email protected]  to pick our brain about what strategies should be on your 2022 travel PR plan.


Written By

Karyl Leigh Barnes

Karyl Leigh Barnes is President of DCI’s Tourism Practice. Since joining the firm in 1998, Karyl Leigh has led destination strategy and created marketing communication programs for destinations on every continent except Antarctica.

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