Vintage journalistMany start-ups have no budget to spare so they make the decision not to do any marketing at all, which is a huge mistake. Marketing is a necessity for the long-term financial success of a company, especially in a highly competitive market like the hospitality industry.

What can start-ups with no marketing budget do without taking out a business loan?

If you’re familiar with my columns or my company, you know that I am an advocate for public relations (PR) because of its efficacy and low price point, especially when you choose to do your own PR. Over time, PR will improve your company’s visibility with potential customers, establish credibility in the industry, shorten your sales cycle and boost your revenue – all without busting your budget.

But even with a highly effective, low-cost marketing tactic, there are ways to increase the return on investment (ROI) of your spend.

Avoid paid distribution channels

Many companies think that the paid distribution channels such as PRNewswire, PRWeb or Cision will boost the results of their PR campaign, as they assume that these services make it more likely that their PR will be read by the journalists; unfortunately, the exact opposite is true, in most cases. While paid distribution channels will get you many reprints of your press release, which is beneficial for SEO purposes, it won’t generate high-quality articles about your company or product/service, which are the articles that yield the best results with increased visibility and sales from PR.

So, the lesson here is this: don’t use the paid distribution channels, unless you are only interested in boosting your SEO.  

Give journalists everything that they need to write the story

Instead of using the paid channels, companies should be sending their pitches directly to media via email. Journalists receive hundreds or thousands of press releases by email daily; make yours stand out by doing the hard work of building out the story for them.

Before sending out your email to media, first consider what story you are trying to tell: why is your news important, both to you and the industry? Will it affect the industry or the way that hospitality companies do business? Write a short email of one to three paragraphs)before your release, which should always be pasted below the signature of your email, not as an attachment, which explains why this news would be of interest to the publication’s readers, clearly and in layman’s terms. Tell them why your spokesperson would be the best expert to provide commentary on the story. If applicable, even offer a secondary source of another industry expert to back up your comments, as it will lend additional credibility to your story and make it more likely that the journalist will cover the story.

Emphasize quality, not volume on your media list

Many marketers use the ‘spray and pray’ technique when distributing pitches to media: they send the pitch to every single journalist, in every single outlet, that covers the industry or topic. They figure that sending your pitch out to more journalists, you are more likely to get coverage.

In reality, your PR outreach will be more effective and therefore have higher ROI if you send your pitch to fewer, more quality journalists. Choose the agencies who consistently cover your industry and who write the type of article that you want to have written about your company. Show the journalist that you follow his or her writing, and know what kind of stories they are interested in by referencing a related article that they had written recently.

By being selective when compiling your media list, you are more likely to secure high-quality coverage of your company and product or service, while building stronger relationships with media, which will continue to pay off over time, as they will come to you again when they need an expert for other upcoming stories.

Personalization matters

Personalize your pitches goes a long way toward increasing the ROI of your PR outreach. Journalists receive hundreds of pitches every day, most of which are just generic “spam” messages sent using the ‘spray and pray’ technique. Personalize your email by sending the pitch directly to them, using their first name; i.e. “Hi Jenn”. If you’ve worked with them before, reference the article that you worked on together. Ask them about their week or about something else that you know they are interested in. Show them that you know that your story is one that they would normally cover. All of these will make journalists take notice of your pitch, and will make you stand out as a professional and will help you get more media coverage.

If you follow all of these tips when sending out your next pitch or press release, you will improve your response rate and increase the amount of coverage secured. Over time, following these tips will ensure that your company is getting the most exposure and the highest ROI from your PR outreach.

By Jennifer Nagy, President of JLNPR Inc.

About JLNPR Inc.

Jennifer NagyJLNPR Inc. is a full-service public relations and marketing agency that lives and breathes all facets of the travel technology industry. From online travel agencies to revenue management systems, tablet-based aviation automation solutions to IFE technology, hotels to airlines and everything in between, JLNPR uses our knowledge and experience to get your B2B travel technology company noticed by media, influencers and potential customers – and whenever possible, without the overused, often abused press release. In addition to traditional media relations outreach, we also ghost-write exciting, informational copy that will be published (in our client’s name) by top hotel industry media outlets – in order to increase your company’s visibility with potential customers, boost brand awareness and increase sales. To learn how to do your own PR for your company, download JLNPR’s free guide: How to Use Public Relations to Boost Your Sales – Without Blowing Your Budget. To find out more about JLNPR (including our services and out-of-the-box philosophy on press releases), please visit