How hospitality and leisure PR has changed under Covid-19

July 6 2020

The global hospitality industry has been dealt a devastating blow by Covid-19. Most hotels and restaurants suddenly lost the majority of their customers and are struggling to keep their businesses alive.

How has PR changed as a result? Can PR help in this situation? How should PR professionals think differently now?

Here are what we have learned up to now:

  1. We’re in crisis management mode. Things change every day, so watch what the media is reporting on and how governments are reacting and be prepared to be flexible.
  2. Polish jewels. Review the brand’s core brand values and refine them.
  3. Safety is the Number One current priority. Understand current PR buzzwords related to safety and what the market wants to hear. Craft and communicate appropriate messages.
  4. Don’t stay silent. The hospitality press cannot travel or eat out, so they are struggling to find angles. This is good time to have conversations and strengthen your relationship with key opinion leaders.

How does new hospitality PR look like?

  1. It’s time to shift story angles from aesthetic to experience. Due to the lack of travel and many businesses being closed, angles such as size of room, type of architecture, or who is the chef aren’t as relevant right now. Rather, focus on broader angles such as  what makes you travel, how travel makes you feel, what experiences you want to have.  In other words, it’s time to focus on your key messages and emotional storytelling.
  2. Recognize sustainability: hospitality has been leading the charge on sustainability for years, but clients often do not realize the value. Use this “downtime” to identify and communicate stories about how hospitality brands are supporting sustainability.
  3. While site visits provide the best experience for hospitality reporters, digital options can help bridge the gap while travel is banned. Consider setting up virtual tours, parties, events or interviews. Or, implement more creative elements such as memory photo campaigns on Instagram, online cooking classes, or virtual personal training sessions.

Covid-19 has certainly changed the hospitality industry.  However, brands that creatively adapt during these challenging times will set themselves to excel as we move past the era of Covid-19.

Judy Kuramata
Executive Director/Principal, Integrate Communications
After graduating from the University of California, Judy began her career at an international advertising agency. She spent more than 12 years as PR/Marketing manager at several major cosmetic companies, such as Chanel, Revlon and Maybelline. After she left the cosmetic industry, her career field shifted to fashion, including representing such brands as DeBeers Diamond and Patek Philippe.

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