Relic Agency


How Destinations Can Use Public Relations to Tell Compelling Stories

In the ever-evolving landscape of tourism marketing, public relations remains a cornerstone strategy for Destination Marketing Organizations (DMOs). It’s all about crafting and sharing stories that resonate deeply with potential visitors and the media alike. But how can DMOs harness PR to its fullest potential? Let’s dive into some proven strategies.

Understanding the Role of PR in Tourism

Public relations in tourism isn’t just about sending out press releases; it’s about telling a story that captivates and engages. It’s an art form that, when executed well, can significantly elevate a destination’s brand and attract more visitors. The goal is to create narratives that are not only newsworthy but also shareable. This provides an authentic glimpse into what makes a destination unique.

In the tourism industry, earned media is an important avenue to showcase your brand and build your audience. In today’s world, a third of U.S. consumers turn to Google to find the information they need about products– that’s where your earned media comes into play.

Effective PR is not a one-off effort but a continuous dialogue with the media. DMOs should aim to build lasting relationships with journalists by consistently providing them with valuable, timely and relevant information. This ensures that the destination remains top-of-mind and is portrayed accurately in the media.

Crafting Stories That Resonate

The first step in a successful PR strategy is identifying what makes your destination unique and using this as a throughline to all of your pitches. This could be anything from natural beauty, unique culinary experiences or fascinating historical sites. For instance, Savannah, Georgia has branded itself as the “most haunted city in the U.S.” This narrative has been beautifully leveraged to attract visitors, especially around events like ghost tours, which are marketed with an emphasis on the eerie and mystical.

A compelling story must connect on an emotional level. It should invite potential visitors to imagine themselves experiencing the magic of your destination. Take, for example, the story of Nebraska’s “Honestly, It’s Not For Everyone” campaign. Nebraska embraced what others saw as negatives—its quiet, less eventful landscapes—to highlight the hidden gems of its environment, turning the preconceptions about the destination on its head. This honest and counterintuitive approach drew attention and sparked curiosity nationwide, leading to a huge increase in tourism to the state.

Using Earned Media to Bolster Owned Media

Earned media is a perfect tool for destinations to not only promote themselves but also showcase their owned media efforts.

For an example of how this strategy can work wonders for DMOs, take Visit Myrtle Beach. Visit Myrtle Beach has recently launched an innovative new show called Traveling the Spectrum. What’s truly remarkable about their approach is that they’ve managed to promote it majorly through earned and shared channels— with very little paid advertising. These earned media pitches and social media posts centered around the idea that Traveling the Spectrum was more than a show– it was a movement centered around accessible, sensory-friendly travel.

This organic approach to promotion has led to the show catching fire in the media. This includes features on prominent national outlets like TravelPulse and Matador Network. The result? Traveling the Spectrum has gained a level of national recognition and credibility that can’t be achieved through traditional advertising alone. This shows the power of a well-executed earned media strategy, turning what could have been just another program into a must-watch phenomenon. 

The initial campaign goal was to generate 500,000 views on the series trailer. That goal was surpassed in four weeks through our strategies the trailer is well on the way to 1,000,000 views. That’s the power of using owned media.

In an age where stories can go viral in an instant, DMOs have a unique opportunity to use public relations to amplify their narratives. By focusing on authenticity, emotional engagement and continuous media relations, DMOs can effectively use PR to captivate potential visitors and turn them into actual tourists.

Remember, in the world of destination marketing, your story is your strength. Use it wisely, and watch how it transforms your destination’s image and appeal.