Leigh Cort Publicity - Effective Public Relations

Leigh Cort Features on MediaBistro.com JANUARY 2010

By Jessica Howell, January 11, 2010

“In more than half of U.S. states, the travel and tourism industry serves as the first, second or third largest employer, having a pivotal role in a healthy $645 billion in 2008, according to the U.S. Travel Association. Today, because of the economic downturn, the industry is facing long-term challenges in how consumers and businesses perceive travel entirely. The consequences in bookings and reservations – can be felt nationwide and as a result, marketing and public relations dollars, more critical and in short supply.

Take, for example, The Casa Marina Hotel in Jacksonville Beach, Florida, an historic property offering 23 guest rooms and suites. This boutique suffered a swift blow last year when its customers cut back significantly in bookings as a knee-jerk reaction to the recession. In response, general manager Mark Vandeloo focused his marketing to be spent on a 150-mile radius, targeting a local demographic and broader national exposure. Instead of relying on a traditional agency, he turned to Leigh Cort of Leigh Cort Publicity, an independent public relations contractor who provides one-on-one services for several hospitality and food-focused clients.

“She stays ahead of the curve,” Vandeloo says of Cort’s appeal. “We’re trying to be steadfast and remain proactive instead of cutting service-related costs. Essentially, we’re trying to meet our needs through more creative thinking.”

Like the Casa Marina, many tourism and hospitality companies that once employed the services of traditional brick-and-mortar agencies are turning their sights to independent contractors. And by increasing your digital offerings and creativity, your firm could be the one they call on first.

Be Flexible!
To today’s tourism and hospitality operators, flexibility reigns king, making freelance and independent practitioners, as well as low-overhead digital agencies, an attractive – and often more affordable – option. And many of the companies who are moving their money from well-staffed agencies aren’t missing the team of professionals once at their beck and call.

In fact, activities that once required five sets of hands (collecting media clippings, for example) now require only one. Online news alerts, media databases and mass email marketing tools significantly simplify the once mundane and time consuming tasks of yesteryear. With a bevy of multimedia tools at the click of a mouse, PR independents who are well-versed in the travel industry can easily cultivate a healthy client base by working with a variety of non-competing companies, especially when their portfolio offers a breadth of experience by sector or region.

Through strategic media outreach, creative publicity campaigns and the use of social media, the degree of separation between a travel client and its customers quickly narrows. According to Cort, whose clients line the East Coast, it’s also about guaranteeing solid, in-person relationships. By joining the hotel staff for a “day in the life of”, Cort is able to uncover the newsworthy nuggets that may have otherwise gone unnoticed, like dedicating each guestroom in a historic B&B to prominent local figures – or – packaging and selling a boutique hotel’s most savory room service snacks. Morning news pieces and feature articles on these cleverly crafted PR plays send even more publicity-seeking travel companies her way.

In an industry where tools, tactics and expectations grow daily, it’s essential for PR folks to practice AGILITY, promote NICHE EXPERTISE and leverage local appeal. By keeping up on the Web and on the street, you’ll be privy to the fluctuating needs of the travel industry and the capabilities required to land you a respectful client roster”.

If you have any questions or would like more information, please contact us 904.806.3613, email us, or use our online request form.



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