Who do you trust is a lot more than a bw game show (starring Johnny Carson for much of its
run, along with Ed McMahon, by the way – and yes we know about the bad grammar) because
this is the money question for hotel marketers, especially in a time of great flux: do mainstream
media still matter? How much budget should we shift to influencers? Should Facebook eat up
our entire budget? Who do you trust?
All good questions. The right answers come down to trust. In particular, what our core
Hasty decisions may be ones we regret.
This gets evident with a recent Skift story headlined “Growing Pains for Influencer Marketing
Raise Questions for Travel Brands.” Of course. It made sense for makers of fast fashion to go
all in with influencer marketing but do the social media outlets align with the buyers of high-end
travel? To an extent yes. But do the primary social media influencers align with buyers of high-end travel?
Knowing the right answer to that does not involve rocket science. What it involves is a simple
question: do your core consumers trust Influencer XYZ? There may not be a lot of research on
that score but there is your gut. What do you feel?
The right answer is that some influencers – not very many – are ideal fits with some kinds of high
end travel. It gets granular. A particular influencer might be an ideal fit with a safari-oriented
resort but a complete bust with a wellness-focused Bali resort. My advice to travel brands is to
meticulously winnow influencers in a hunt for the few that genuinely fit your brand and your
specific offerings. They are out there but you have to hunt for them.
Don’t scoff at all influencers. Some are ideal components of an awareness campaign. Just pick
wisely. And deploy them thoughtfully, selectively, intelligently.
Now for the bigger question: do traditional media still matter in travel marketing and PR?
The answer is a loud you bet.
But just as loud has to be the warning that this path too has its potholes. A lot of traditional
media can and should be ignored.
Again, it’s trust that rules.
Recent research – The Brand Keys Emotional Engagement Analysis – looked into the question
of media and trust and the results may surprise you. For instance: just about all leading
newspapers score very, very high in the trust index. Forget the “fake news” mantra. It isn’t so
with the namebrand media outlets.
Bulldog Reporter offered this boxscore of publications and their trust scores:
● The New York Times (88 percent)
● The Wall Street Journal (88 percent)
● The Washington Post (87 percent)
● The Los Angeles Times (86 percent)
● The Washington Times (86 percent)
● The Boston Globe (86 percent)
● USA Today (85 percent)
● The Chicago Tribune (84 percent)
● New York Post (84 percent)
That means that readers of leading newspapers like the New York Times and Washington Post
trust much of what they read and for marketers and PR executives the take-away is plain: focus
on outlets with a high trust factor.
A good story in, say, the Los Angeles Times is gold for a client.
Not included in this scorecard are lesser outlets but, in many instances, they probably score
less well when it comes to trust.
Who trusts – really – a freebie publication stuffed in curbside boxes? Do your core guests?
For the PR practitioner this perspective helps shape the to-do list. Go after the top publications,
the well-known city newspapers in particular.
Magazines and websites are not ranked for trust, to my knowledge, but again in your gut you
know the ones that warrant trust and those that don’t.
So do your consumers.
Go after the name brands, the magazines with titles that are known.
A consumer may read a checkout stand gossip publication but do they trust it? Ask and you will
find out that many read them for entertainment. That does not mean they believe them. Just
that the stories are fun.
There’s a silver lining in all of this. Fewer outlets and influencers matter very much in today’s
world of media and influencer clutter and that means it gets easy to focus time.
Focus on what your consumers trust.
That’s what produces benefits.
Babs Harrison + Partners