Best of the Best PR


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As 2015 comes to a close, we begin to see the rankings of all the “bests” of the year. As January and February 2016 quickly approach, we anticipate award shows such as the Oscars, People’s Choice Awards and Grammy Awards, to find out who was the best in the music, television and films of 2015. Websites release rankings: Top 10 best colleges of 2015, top breakout artists, top football teams and the lists go on. And here in the world of PR we have our top lists too.

So who will make the list of top rated public relations campaigns of 2015? In order to see what the best of PR within the travel and hospitality sector looks like, I checked out the Hospitality Sales & Marketing Association International (HSMAI)’s 58th Annual Adrian Awards winners of 2014. Here are some of the top public relations campaigns awarded and why they deserved this accolade:

  1. AKA (Quinn and Ballentines PR) launch of “World’s First Mobile Hotel Suite” The goal of AKA was to make the brand stand out by developing an idea involving an Airstream. To accomplish this goal, the CEO stressed the objectives of AKA. The first objective was to clearly communicate with the public how important luxury, innovation and lifestyle is to AKA. The second objective was to strike the curiosity of sophisticated consumers about AKA Beverly Hills by getting stories in appropriate outlets. The third objective was simply to get more business flowing into AKA Beverly Hills. To accomplish these objectives, they created the world’s first mobile hotel suite, which was a “silver suite on wheels…decked out with AKA signature comforts” ( The campaign resulted in a 30% occupancy increase in Beverly Hills and over 100 million media impressions. Way to go Quinn and Ballentines.
  2. Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection (Mardiks PR) implementation of Travel Protection AirCare campaign The goal of this campaign was to launch CEO John Noel’s new company, Berkshire Hathaway Travel Protection through it’s first product, Aircare. The objectives included building awareness to the company’s target audiences, introduce AirCare to the public, and make the public aware of Noel’s return to the travel industry. To do this, the company kicked off it’s opening with AirCare, which was the simplest, least expensive travel insurance. The laugh of Aircare resulted in 187 million media impressions in five short months. Impressive, Mardiks.
  3. The Cayman Islands Department of Tourism (Mfa Ltd. Missy Farren and Associates) create National Geographic Traveler Feature The goal for this campaign was to receive a feature in National Geographic about the beauty, culture and history of the Cayman Islands in order to attract tourists. The strategy this PR team used was to approach a journalist at the annual Cayman Cookout event and offer an extended visit to experience the Cayman Islands. This exclusive experience resulted in a feature story in National Geographic raving about the island experiences to an audience of 735,453 readers. I’d like to think it wasn’t too hard to convince that journalist to take an extended visit. Where can I sign up?

Amongst many other PR agencies that took their tactics to the next level to satisfy their client, these three stood out as the most outstanding on the HSMAI’s award list for 2014. I’m curious to see who will make the list for 2015. Any guesses?


Finding the Consumer’s Sweet Tooth

As I’ve been exploring the realm of Travel and Hospitality PR, I became interested in tactics that businesses use to enhance customer satisfaction and draw more consumers in. One industry that stood out to me was Holiday Inn Express. Holiday Inn recently implemented a campaign that was not only interesting, but completely satisfying to customers.

This campaign was titled the “Pancake Selfie Express.” Combining two of American’s favorite things, breakfast food and taking selfies, Holiday Inn Express has the genius idea to travel around nine different major U.S. cities and provide people with the opportunity to take a selfie, then have it printed onto a pancake for them to eat. Holiday Inn Express created an entire page on their website dedicated to explaining the campaign and providing customers with whatever information they needed  in order to get their selfie pancake. The PR team back at Holiday Inn Express also provided consumers with an infographic on the website, providing statistics about the campaign. View the infographic below:

I think that it was smart of Holiday Inn Express to have information such as this available for their viewers. Not only is this infographic informative, but it is visually appealing and puts into perspective how much effort was put into the campaign. Additionally, they had their brand’s Creative Director and actor/comedian Rob Riggle serve as the spokesperson for the campaign. In return for taking the time to visit one of the Pancake Selfie Express vans, customers were given IHG Reward Club Points to be applied to future visits at any Holiday Inn hotel. Not only did the company find a way to get customers attention about the brand, but they also implemented a plan that immediately gave consumers a reward that encouraged them to come to Holiday Inn in the future for their hospitality needs. I think that more companies could take from campaigns such as the Pancake Selfie Express in order to attract more business and gain loyal customers.


Photo from Creative Commons Flickr

Photo from Creative Commons Flickr

With the recent tragedies that have occurred worldwide in just 24 hours, I thought I would use this post to address these current events, rather than my original topic planned. On November 13, 2015, there was an earthquake in Japan and Mexico, suicide bombings in Beirut killing over 40 people and injuring over 200, suicide bombings in Baghdad resulting in 18 deaths and over 40 wounded, and 129 killed along with 352 injured in three different ISIS attacks on Paris. Whether a natural disaster or tragedy caused by man, this Friday the 13th was a day filled with heartbreak that the world will have a hard time forgetting.

But with tragedy comes the ability to rebuild and grow, not only within individual nations, but worldwide. Even though yesterday was filled with devastation it was also filled with a lot of hope. As each event began to compile within the news feeds of social media sites worldwide, it began to show the true power of our world coming together over social media.

There has been a lot of discussion lately on the internet about social media being harmful and “fake,” as stirred up by a teen from Australia who slammed Instagram for portraying a fake version of reality (view article here). While there might be many elements of social media that come off unrealistic, there is something extremely raw and real about the social media community when it comes to times of tragedy and mourning.

As events and updates unfolded, social media sites were flooded with hashtags of support including #prayforMexico, #prayforJapan, #prayforBeirut, #prayforBaghdad, and #prayforParis. Under these hashtags people online all over the world could share with each other pictures of support, words of encouragement and support for an endless amount of strangers. Countries throughout the world showed support for the attacks on Paris by projecting the colors of the Flag of Paris on major buildings and landmarks. Pictures were shared across multiple social media platforms, uniting our world as one in support of one another. Facebook created an option for user’s  in which they could could put a filter of the Flag of Paris over their profile picture to show their support. Victims of the attacks were able to take to social media and share their side of the story with the world and speak words of encouragement about the heroes who didn’t survive. While the events that took place yesterday are tragic, they remind us of how our world can come together in a time of mourning.

For this, I think we owe gratitude to social networking for allowing us to connect with one another. It’s a truly remarkable thing to be able to support complete strangers from across the world. With all the darkness in the world comes a lot of hope. I encourage my readers to take to their social media site and spread the support.

Metrojet’s Crisis Communication

Photo from Flickr Commons

Photo from Creative Commons Flickr

While I was planning on addressing the topic of career searching abroad this week, some current events have caught my attention. The recent crash of Airbus A321 flight was tragic, resulting in the death of all 224 passengers. And with airline tragedies, comes the need of an affective crisis communication plan. With loved ones searching for answers, Metrojet is responsible for giving answers to the public’s questions, apologizing for the incident and getting to the bottom of what really happened.

With many possible ways to handle the situation correctly, Metrojet failed to perform well under crisis communication pressure. Metrojet’s first time addressing the situation was by Alexander Smirnov, deputy general director of the airline. Smirnov responded to the crisis with a comment to the public stating, “The only coherent reason could be a mechanical impact on the aircraft. There is no configuration of system shutdowns that could lead to the destruction of the aircraft in mid-air.”  Rather than addressing that the cause of the crash is still under investigation until they know for sure what caused the crash, Smirnov made an announcement that was quick and not well thought-out. There are many other possibilities that could have resulted in the tragedy of the accident and, in my opinion, it was unprofessional for Metrojet to give such a pre-developed response to the incident.

In March 2014, when Malaysia Airlines flight 370 disappeared over the ocean, Malaysia Airlines worked hard to ensure that loved ones of the casualties on the plane were taken care of first and foremost. The crisis communication team at Malaysia Airlines issued a series of steps to address the incident. Many steps that would have benefited Metrojet if it was to do the same. Amidst the Flight 370 crisis, Malaysia Airlines opened page on their website, in which visitors to the site could ask any questions they had regarding the incident or read up on newest information released. Second, Malaysia airlines didn’t give the public answers that jumped to conclusions or ensured any promises. They responded with compassion and sincerity, while also making sure that all of the information was accurate and honest. In addition, Malaysia Airlines kept active on their social media accounts, repeatedly reminding their followers that they were doing whatever it takes to take care of the families involved.

Metrojet could have learned a few things from the crisis communication team at Malaysia Airlines. Airline malfunctions are inevitable and will continue to happen as long as planes are still flying, whether is it human error or tech error. It the airline’s responsibility to be prepared for such incidents and have a crisis communication plan ready for such circumstances. I’m interested to see how Metrojet continues to handle the situation as the weeks progress. How do you think they could have handled their first response better?

Edelman Ethics



As I enter week six of my last fall quarter of college, I have been reflecting on some of the most important takeaways from the journalism school. One topic that all of my teachers have drilled into our heads is the importance of ethics in the workforce. I decided it would be in my best interest to start researching the way large public relations firms follow a code of ethics and handle this code of ethics internationally. I specifically decided to focus in on Edelman.

Edelman is the world’s largest public relations firm, with business in 23 different countries in the world. Engagement with this amount of the world requires a large amount of ethical responsibility. What might be ethical in one culture could be completely unacceptable in another culture. Edelman follows a strict code of ethics, in which it requires employees to sign when they join the Edelman team. Requiring employees to stick to the same code of ethics is not only smart, but it allows the businesses and people that Edelman serves to be aware of the company’s transparency.

If I’ve learned one thing about ethics in the journalism school at U of O, it is that transparency is key to maintaining an ethically strong company. Allowing your audience to see how your organization operates, your strategic processes, and your intentions behind every action is key in gaining trust and loyalty from your clients.

In 2006, Edelman got nailed by a blogger for not presenting sufficient transparency when it came to a case with Walmart. The case had to do with funding for a national tour. Learning from this incident, Edelman then developed a code of ethics to follow and require every employee to sign. As I looked further into this case, I was impressed with Edelman’s ability to learn quickly from this ethical mistake. As the leading PR agency in the world, it is Edelman’s responsibility to represent the highest standard of ethics. Unfortunately the team at Edelman had to learn that one the hard way.

Über Great Social Marketing Techniques



For my post this week I was curious to explore the wonderful world of social media and how it has benefited travel and hospitality companies all over the globe. As I was exploring the different modes of transportation for travel, not only in the U.S. but in other countries as well, I couldn’t help but think of one company that has exploded since 2009 and continues to excel in the world of transportation.


According to its websites statistics, Über currently provides service in 58 countries and 300 cities worldwide. And from the looks of its constant expansion in social marketing and social media, it’s only going to continue to expand. There are a few social media and marketing techniques I’ve observed Über implementing that I think readers would be interested to know about. Anyone in the process of growing their start-up could probably take some helpful hints from one of the fastest growing start-ups in the world.

Here are just a few social media and marketing tactics I applaud Über for:

  1. In addition to dozens and dozens of personal Über Instagram accounts for cities worldwide, the company also maintains an Instagram account with the handle name @UberEATS. This individual Instagram account is mentioned often on the captions of the main Über Instagram account which links viewers directly to the @UberEATS account. On this account, the company advertises one of the features on the Über app, which allows customers to order food in their local areas and have it delivered right to their door. And you can pay for your meal through the Über app. Convenient and brilliant.
  2. Hashtag take overs allow customers to feel connected to real life people and what Über had done for them. The company implemented a #whyiride and #whyidrive Instagram take over, in which they had four different people for each hashtag post on the account. The #whyiride take over was done by four different photographers who use the app to get to their destinations. Each post was accompanied with a picture of where their Über took them and why they choose to ride with Über. The #whyidrive take over was similar, but with drivers instead of passengers.
  3. On July 19, 2015, Über added an “ice cream” feature to its app, allowing customers in 33 different cities to get ice cream upon request. Under its social media accounts it used the hashtag “#Ubericecream” to get word out about this one day event. Not only is the idea genius (because who doesn’t love ice cream?), but the strategy to get the topic trending on social media was well-implemented.
  4. In addition to constantly changing and developing new features on its own app,  Über also created a way to connect with other business’s apps as well. When Über API was created in August 2014, the company created a way to help other businesses link to Über through their apps. Not only did Über create a way to advertise its business on its own app, but figured out a way to get its name out through other businesses apps and social media as well. All while at the same time benefiting both businesses. Well played, Über.
  5. Über’s interaction with customers on Twitter is excellent. The social media team that works to answer questions and concerns on Twitter are quick, efficient and 100% there to serve the Über community.

I’m a big fan of how Über is using Social Media to not only brand itself, but to give its consumers what they want at the same time. So whether you are looking to travel and not sure of what transportation to use or beginning a start-up and need help getting your company’s name out there: Über seems like a reliable company to look to.

Preparing for the South Sister


In my exploration into travel and hospitality, I’ve set a few personal goals. I think that it is important to test your limits by accomplishing something you didn’t think your body could withstand. For me, that would be reaching the top of a mountain peak. Particularly, conquering the South Sister in Oregon.

But achieving a challenge such as this requires a lot of preparation. You need to train, pack the proper equipment and buy the clothing needed to withstand weather conditions. I prefer supporting brands that play a part in giving back to the community: companies that take their Corporate Social Responsibility seriously. To begin my planning process I was looking into big corporations that supply the type of clothing I need to hike South Sister, while also checking out its history of CSR. 

I was happy with what I found, considering The North Face is already one of my favorite outdoor product companies. Not only do they have the products that will support my expedition up the South Sister, but they also have an interesting CSR campaign: “Clothes the Loop.”

“Clothes the Loop” is a recycle, reward and renew program. Customers have the opportunity to turn in their old, unwanted clothing and receive a reward, good for the purchase of any The North Face item. Not only does it benefit the customer because they get a discount on purchases, but the proceeds go toward The Conservation Alliance. With every piece of recycled clothes or shoes donated, The North Face takes a step in the right direction toward protecting and preserving our environment. But I think that the most brilliant part about the “Clothes the Loop” campaign is how easy it is for The North Face customers. No one has to go out of his or her way or take time out of a busy schedule. If you already have a trip planned to go to The North Face, you simply bring your old clothes along with you. It’s convenient and it’s easy. 

Considering I have plans to get out and see the world, I would like to contribute to keeping the environment prosperous and beautiful. And I’m assuming that most people buying The North Face products are similar to me. Fellow adventurers and thrill seekers, these are the kind of people who would also like to save the environment if they had the opportunity to contribute to a cause such as The Conservation Alliance.

The North Face makes this easy and possible. For any trip planned in the future that requires protective outdoor wear, I will most certainly be looking to The North Face for products. I’d be interested to see what other clothing companies have great CSR campaigns. Feel free to share!