The ‘media stay’ is a quintessential part of any hotel’s public relations program. A majority of the media want to experience a property first-hand before recommending it to their readers and most media outlets do not have a budget to pay for travel. Hotels happily oblige, as the media exposure they receive is worth the cost of the stay.
While many media stay requests come about from proactive pitching, often times it is the other way around. An editor/blogger/freelancer will approach the PR company for a media stay and sometimes these requests come from media the PR agency isn’t familiar with. It is then the public relations team’s job to qualify the media request for the hotel. There are horror stories about people posing as journalists and enjoying free, very expensive vacations. While this is a rare occurrence, it is one that no PR person ever wants to find themselves responsible for.
Here are some steps to qualify media before offering any complimentary stays or services.
2. Look them up in whatever media database your agency uses. Not everyone is listed in these but it is a good place to start. There are also sites like Media Bistro that for a small fee provide mastheads and journalist information.
3. Ask the writer to provide you with past clips. If they have none to provide, that is a major red flag.
4. If they are a freelancer on assignment, ask for an assignment letter from their editor. Most publications will happily provide this to PR firms.
5. Google them. The easiest way to see who a person is and where they write for is to just Google them and see what you can find out about them.
6. If they write for a blog, ask for background information on it. How many unique visitors does it get a month? How long has the blog been in existence? Has the blog covered similar hotels in the past? You can also check out blog traffic on compete.com.
The reality is most media requests come from honest journalists, but as any publicist knows, it is better to be safe than sorry.