“My PR agency always asks me for news, but we don’t have any!”

Written by Lemongrass Marketing on 15th Feb 2022

Find out how we come up with newsworthy pitches for our clients – and learn how you can use our tips and tricks to come up with news yourself to land great coverage for your travel brand.

You know what? Our clients hate being asked for news.

And we don’t blame them. The way we see it, making them newsworthy is our job. It’s why we were hired in the first place.

So, we create news for them.

“How?”, we hear you ask? Well, we predict the future – by tapping into our past experience, our expert knowledge, and our digital crystal ball…

We predict the future (no time machine required)

Talking Season 6 GIF

Some things come around in the news again and again; Valentine’s day in February, Mother’s day in March, Easter holidays – these are pretty much guaranteed story streams, every year.

But frankly everyone knows about those. And if you are the travel editor of the Times do you really want to trawl through yet another PR pitch for a “Romantic dinner package at hotel XYZ”? A well known travel editor told us that this year she got over 1,200 Valentine’s pitches. Good luck standing out with yours!

So how do we at Lemongrass know what topics are coming up:

  1. We track EVERYTHING that was covered in the past to know when it is likely to come up in the future
  2. We overlay that with one-off news for the year
  3. We use real time Google data to predict exploding topics

 

  1. Track the past to predict the future

At Lemongrass, we have a real time calendar where we plot everything. We’ve been at the sharp end of travel PR for a very long time so we know that every January the media cover “New Year, New You” topics (read: anything wellness, health and fitness related); every February there will be lots of movie related stories coming out (Oscars!). So three months prior i.e. November we research any movies that may have been shot in our clients’ destinations, any famous films stars that stayed at one of our clients’ hotels (even better if they are nominated for an Oscar this year).

Every August, without fail, we start pitching Christmas gift guides for our travel clients (spa products, local product that they sell, holiday gifts). We know that’s when it’ll be editorially relevant to the press, because it happens the same way, every year.

Then, come October, we know the media wants to talk about “what’s new in 202X” – which is why we organise our annual press day for October every year.

Watch: footage from Lemongrass Press Day 2019

Our calendar also covers the specific publications that run in-depth guides every year.

The Sunday Times, for example, has a different in-depth Mediterranean destination guide each year – usually starting off with Greece in mid-January, then moving onto Portugal, then Italy…

We think seasonally; checking for key dates and planning for them in advance.

We’ll always pitch our client MARTINHAL for family half term, every year. But we make sure that our pitch is up to date, with correct prices, packages and fresh imagery – but it’s cyclical. We know it’s coming, and we prepare for it. And so can you!

  1. One off events: Movie releases, new flight routes, the Queen’s Jubilee etc.

But life would be boring if exactly the same thing happened every year – which is why in December we spend a lot of time researching events that will come up the following year.

It’s important to zoom out of your niche every now and then. As a team, we keep up to date with what’s going on in the wider world – not just travel.

We track movie releases, new flight routes, big events.

This gives us an opportunity to get creative, and jump on a story with our own take when it’s relevant to do so. Like with the new TV show, “The Tourist” – we noticed a lot of articles popping up on the Australian outback, asking “where is the best place to stay” and “what are the best things to see”.

I Dont Know No Idea GIF by BBC

So a travel brand that specialises in adventure travel, or one based in Australia, would have a perfect opportunity to jump on and gain coverage.

This is newsjacking; a way of “hijacking” current events or stories in the news cycle, to make them relevant to your brand. If you keep a lookout for the right story, and come in with the right angle, you can strike PR gold.

New year, new air routes

We always monitor airline news to see which new routes are coming up – there’s always something that’ll give us an angle to work with.

Fly Flying GIF

This summer, Ryanair will launch three new routes to Madeira. That’s a good hook if your hotel happens to be on the island of Madeira, or if you’re a tour operator with packages to Madeira.

This can be newsworthy when pitching to the media: “New Routes to Madeira – here’s the tour operator you should book with”. There’s your hook.

And it’s actually really exciting if the new route isn’t from London. Two of the new Madeira routes will be from Dublin and Manchester, which gives us the opportunity to specifically target local and regional publications.

Since Covid, routes from regional airports have become particularly attractive – and local news outlets, which hold a lot of sway in their respective areas, want to know about them.

Here is how we use Google Trends to find exploding topics & link those to our travel clients

We always keep an eye on Google Trends.

It’s like our digital crystal ball. If you can predict the demand, you can pitch to the press.

We monitor everything on a daily basis: the destinations where our clients are based, key services, and their niches (adventure travel, sustainable travel, city breaks, cultural travel, wellness travel, family travel, honeymoons and so on).

We monitor these diligently, to see what’s changing. And we can use the data from interesting search events to create newsworthy pitches for our clients – sometimes, really big ones.

We’ll get to that.

First, let’s show you how we monitor historical data to find patterns and make our pitches land better.

Historical data: repeating patterns

Using the historical data and projected trends generated by our digital tools, we can turn fortune-telling into informed predictions. Let’s show you how we do this by getting more out of Google Trends – and using what we find to time our pitches better.

Google’s search data is ridiculously rich – so even the little scraps of it that they give away are massively useful for PR and marketing teams.

Google Trends gives you an overview of what’s being searched for, when and where – and this makes breakout topics easy to spot. The annual Year in Search rundowns are brilliant retrospectives – and they can give you clues about what’s likely to be big in years to come.

But Trends also lets you search by topic and keyword, compare multiple topics or keywords, and segment the results by time and location.

We look at Trends, and think about whether your brand has any old news that could be spun in a way that could work for a trending topic, or if your offering fits with rising trends.

This tool can also make pitch timing better.

Think back to the big, seasonal ”like clockwork” events we mentioned earlier. You can put these terms and topics into Google Trends – but it might be more beneficial to look at topics that surround those events.

Let’s take Mother’s Day as a nice example; we know when it is, and what people tend to do for it. Afternoon tea is a big deal for Mother’s Day – and it’s highly competitive, with just about every London hotel offering a spin on it.

Look for the peak interest for the search term “afternoon tea” in previous years:

It repeats every March. Look at that dip during Covid years, though…

Now, the key is to pitch before the peak – but not so far in advance that it’s not relevant or timely. With Google Trends, you can monitor the buildup on a topic (with enough search data) down to the hour. With some pieces of news, that kind of granularity is vital, because you’ll know the best time to release a story down to the time of day.

Behaviour trends – for data-led stories

Thanks to Google Trends, we’re able to research and develop complex data pieces – like a data-driven sleep study we completed for a client during lockdown.

We noticed in Google Trends that, during the pandemic, searches for sleep-related terms were rising: “can’t sleep”, “insomnia”, “why can’t I sleep” – this behaviour was a rising trend. Clearly, something was happening. But what? And to whom?

This triggered an idea: could we find data on sleep during Covid, and create a map, or a chart, or some kind of index of who’s sleeping better or worse during the pandemic?

Now you may ask how is sleep related to travel? Well, we have a wellness retreat as a client and for years they’ve had a sleep lab. They wanted to promote bookings to the sleep lab but had no news – so the fact that Covid changed sleep patterns for the UK population and the fact that this is something we were able to see in Google trends gave us a newsworthy hook for a product that per se wasn’t newsworthy.

And down the rabbit hole we went – trawling data from scientific studies, the ONS and YouGov.

The result was a rich data piece which gained coverage for our client by highlighting which demographics had reported the worst sleep during lockdown using data from the entire course of the period.

All that – from spotting a line going up in Google Trends.

Search spikes: destinations

Illustration Arrow GIF by LINDA VAN BRUGGEN

We check Google Trends to see if certain destinations are trending – and if we see a spike in searches, we can use the momentum as the basis for a newsworthy story.

For our client on the Amalfi Coast, we noticed something interesting in the spring of 2021: a 770% increase in UK searches for the term “Amalfi Coast”.

This was before the hotel or even Italy itself had reopened for travel – so this was a key indicator that demand was high for travel to the area.

And that was interesting to journalists, too.

Using Google Trends data as our hook, we were able to get our client coverage within the story, as a wishlist destination.

Search spikes: verticals

In the same way that searches for destinations can spike, searches for certain verticals can breakout as trends.

During January 2022, “urban retreats” and “city breaks” searches started to pick up, which is an indicator that travel habits and desires are changing. Remember last year, when it seemed everyone wanted to escape to the countryside? Well, it seems that’s reversing. The “city breaks” search term is set to explode during February:

The root cause could be due to the promise of Covid restrictions coming to an end, and cities opening back up in full. Whatever it is, holidaymakers are clearly hankering for a city break.

We’d use this data to pitch clients in city travel, city tours and city hotels.

Proximity to fame as a story

So, the celeb angle won’t always work or be relevant – but sometimes, there’s a chance to make it big when a celebrity story intersects with your own.

Remember when George and Amal Clooney got married? Their wedding in Venice caused massive jumps in searches for the destination, and everyone was talking about it:

This was the timeline of searches for the word “Venice” in Google during 2014. See that big spike? It started on 27th September 2014; the day of George and Amal’s wedding.

Sometimes, proximity to fame is all you need to get coverage. We can do this for your destination whenever someone (or something) big comes to town.

Depending on the client and what coverage they are after, we find that we’re able to pitch places after celebrity visits, or in line with big events – like we did for our client Martinhal. We pitched Martinhal as a destination in Portugal, after Formula 1 returned to the country for the first time in over 20 years.

So – there you have it.

If you hate it when your PR agency keeps bugging you for news – maybe it’s time to try one that doesn’t need to ask.

We make travel brands newsworthy

Lemongrass Marketing is a specialist travel PR agency. Let’s start a project – call +44 (0)1865 237 990 or email mirjam@lemongrassmarketing.com.

 

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We’re Lemongrass Marketing – we help travel brands grow by delivering PR and content strategies based on digital audience insights. Let’s talk about your next PR, Digital PR and content campaign. Message Mirjam@lemongrassmarketing.com or call +44 (0)1865 237 990.