From luxury travel to tech PR — are they really that different?
For seven years right after the question «What do you do?» I was getting «I am sorry, you do what? Do you have any openings? I’d do anything for a job like that». Flying to secluded and most luxurious locations, staying at best hotels and resorts, meeting general managers of world-known properties like Le Royal-Monceau Raffles, Burj Al Arab Jumeirah, The St. Regis Rome or The Dolder Grand where The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo was shot. Maldives, Dubai, Venice and Paris — this was my work schedule for years. 2 years ago in the midst of the first pandemic year I gave it all up for a career in tech. As August marks my 2nd anniversary working with tech startups, I gathered 5 reasons why luxury travel PR is very different from tech. And spoiler alert — yes, they are very different!
Being close to decision makers is something every communications specialist values. Press release approval that can take weeks, always having 2–3 links in the chain between you and the person in charge, rather long process of evaluating your ideas and making things happen — this is something you should be ready for when working for large hotel brands. The case with tech startups is completely the opposite. Here you rarely communicate with anyone other than the founder, all ideas are reviewed on-the-spot and the decisions are made just as quickly, the chain of decision making is short, simple and effective. Tech startups are ready to test every hypothesis the moment the idea comes to mind and this gives the PR pro some great support for their craziest ideas.
Language — sincerely different
Communication is the key — that’s the fundamental truth whether it’s the external or the internal relations we’re talking about. With large hotel corporations your email feed would be full of «warmest greetings» and «emails finding you well». While these expressions are absolutely beautiful and show great respect to the person you are speaking with, do not expect much of that when communicating with tech founders. «Cut to the chase» is the motto here so getting right to the point, avoiding pretty, but taking time to write phrases and being short and concise in everything you say is something you should learn to do.
Working with luxury resorts and destinations for so long makes you focus on the beauty of the product. Long white beaches, extraordinary cuisine and majestic interior — the better you manage to communicate these to the media, the more coverage you get. As simple as that. That doesn’t work in tech though. Business and tech media while loving these things as much as we all do, do not fall for that. If you don’t give them numbers, stats and research, decent news and hooks — no coverage for you, bye-bye. Learning to look deeper into the product while caring a little less about the shell does not always come easy. But if you do that — you’re golden.
F — flexibility
Press releases, interviews, press trips. Basically, these 3 tools can get you through a short-term travel PR campaign. News agenda also works differently (worked until March 2020 anyway) — when working with print glossy media you are living 3 months ahead of the actual time when the issue is being prepared and who knows what’s going to happen then so let’s just talk about a beautiful Maldives resort anyway now, shall we? With tech you target mostly online media with most up-to-date news feeds and they are the first ones to react to the media field changes. Fresh crisis, new legislation, buzzing case or trend unleashed — and you have to review your tactics and re-charge the PR plan.
Events — when less is more
Hotel people love to party, there’s no secret here. New property opening, F&B launch, annual conference or just a great week to visit another country and meet some local media — there are plenty of reasons to have some fun and they know them all. In no way trying to call tech startups less fun but the number of large press events is for sure limited here. Do not expect throwing parties and launching every product — tech people are always extremely focused on their product and how to make their business more stable and effective. One-on-one meetings, inviting media to see the lab (great in case of a MedTech project) or join some field trials (exciting with AgTech or AI startups) would be a more efficient way to make a personal introduction and create some added value for both the journalist and the founder.
After a long time in the glamorous luxury goods industry making a big change and diving into hard tech may need some adaptation. But just like anywhere else in life — those who are flexible, ready to change and learn and open to share their passion will for sure get all the credit they deserve.