Media Impact on Destination Positioning - Enough of the Bashing, Engage them!
By John R. Hendrie ~ Hospitality Performance
Friday, 26th January 2007
It is all about the presentation - what we say - how we say it and how we choose to deliver the message.  The communication is then picked up, manipulated, dissected, repackaged and then disseminated by various media platforms throughout our Destinations.  They absolutely influence what we read, hear, see, sense and visualize.  Our Visitors, often first timers, are similarly influenced.  What picture do we paint which will determine their expectations, as well as their Experience? Are we Monet or Warhol?

The one common thread which is a constant through our Destination fabric is our media – state, regional and local.  This Voice, Lifestyle arbitrator and Ambassador for our Destination may be our newspapers, our monthly magazines, perhaps local cable television or radio, even the national affiliates.  The Voice and/or the Word is pervasive, commanding, definitive and in trouble, and we in leadership positions know this.

Media companies are pressed to remain viable.  We watch as corporations either move in with their behemoth Brand or dismantle themselves in front of our eyes.  We know that circulations are down, as are advertising dollars for our newspapers. When Time Inc.'s People magazine reduces writers on the Brittany Spears' watch from seven to one, we are all on edge. Cable has surpassed the Peacock; Talk Radio's conservative clamor knocked off Air America.  Everyone wants a piece of the action, and our media friends are in disarray, reinventing themselves, retrenching, reaching out and disappearing.  The Internet has been the equalizer and the challenger.

A healthy media presence inspires the Guest/Visitor Experience, but this memory is a fragile commodity, it does require synergy, and we all are players.  Competition is healthy, just as is an alternative perspective. We desperately need balanced coverage for our Destination, and we, the community who benefits from Visitors to our businesses, can contribute to an industry under fire and siege.

  • Their financial health is driven by representing your business through advertising and promotion.  Likewise, your health is based upon how successful that effort has been.  Synergy or what?  Review your Marketing Plans, purchase aggregate programs, negotiate hard but fairly, as you are actually in the driver's seat.  The deals are there!  Advantage your purchasing power.
  • Most in the print media are moving frantically towards electronic delivery of news, events, and advertising, understanding that how we receive information and how we choose to access this has changed dramatically.  Hospitality businesses have known this for years, as have   their representatives – the DMO's's and Professional Associations.  Newspapers, in particular, offer a vast, untapped potential for broader application and exposure of your products and services through their on-line services.  This is a terrific opportunity for collaborative efforts (take note CVB's, Chambers, Associations) – special programs, interactive resourcing/referrals, unique promotions such as "Experience" Programs – it is skies the limit, if you are audacious and innovative, which leads to the third point.
  • Time to think "outside the box".  Creativity can make for some strange "bedfellows".  Consider the joint venture with the Washington Post  and The Onion, a liberal, satirical publication or YouTube and Google. There is money to be made in synergy, even the unusual. What platforms will work for you?  We have a broad landscape in our Destinations, from the airport, to our transit, our streets, public service, and  private enterprise.  Visitors are either assaulted or assuaged by sensations.  What level of cleanliness, condition, attractiveness, and service have we presented? Has the perception become the reality?  The media interprets that landscape, and new associations/relationships may make your market presence stronger.
The public and private sectors mingle and intertwine in this Destination mosaic.  The final product can be a piece of junk or a sheer delight.  Information is power.  It must be collected, collated, analyzed and dispatched throughout the community, with all the highlights accounted for, sadly including the "warts" and foibles. We must respect editorial integrity. But, if all parties interact and integrate their resources with our prominent partner, the Media, a Destination celebration may just be in order.

Take another look.  We cannot have this Media thread unravel, for our own well being requires the vibrancy, diversity and strength of an engaged media voice. So, task your Sales Reps, include the Media on your Committees, promulgate those Press Releases, collaborate on special Programs and Initiatives, see their transitions as opportunities, and buy a newspaper!  The Media is your partner.

The author believes that Remarkable Hospitality is the portal to the Memorable Experience. He started his career as an Assistant Editor of a small, local newspaper in New Jersey.

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