As Hawkins International Public Relations (HIPR) toasts another banner year, we thank our colleagues for their wisdom, drive, support and trust. From our growing list of 60 hospitality innovators located on every continent, trusted media allies and influencers, and industry partners both old and new – we raise our glasses to you! We could not be the success we are without your belief in us. We ended our exciting year with an especially gratifying award.
Hawkins International PR was voted BEST COMPANY CULTURE by The Business Owner’s Council, a savvy and well-regarded group of entrepreneurs throughout the Tri-State region. While we often win hospitality awards for the work we’ve done on behalf of our clients, we also strive to be recognized for creating a place where people want to come to work every day. As an entrepreneur, my sole purpose is creating and designing an atmosphere that is both inspiring and fun; company culture has always been a top of mind focus for me. I am proud to work with such a terrific group of professionals who are creative, intelligent and ethical.
While this year was indeed remarkable, 2016 promises to be even better. The luxury travel market continues to heat up as the global economy steadily improves, but that also means that clients are faced with the ever-increasing need to stand apart from their competition. Our ability to deliver creative, distinctive results-driven campaigns is enabling HIPR to secure new A-list client relationships around the world. “Growth” is the buzzword here at HIPR, and our continued place on INC. Magazine’s Inc. 5000 is a reward we all share. We are also committed to the growth of our team, and will host a fantastic lineup of professional trainings and immersions to increase the aptitude of our talented staff.
With this, we have had the enviable opportunity to expand our office space. Lucky for us, a spot down the hall from our current office became available. Named ‘The Studio,’ our newly designed 2,000-sq. ft. addition is flooded with natural light and signature HIPR décor, a cool café, whimsical art and appointments, two large private offices, and a dozen new work spaces. While we’ve grown our business incrementally since opening in 2002, we have maintained the deep immersion and creative collaboration with our clients that helped earn their trust. We help our clients win because we take the time to understand their business challenges, and seamlessly operate as extensions of their in-house teams.
Beyond traditional media strategies, we have become a leader in social media, content creation (HIPR’s Content Studio now features a dedicated group of strategists), trendspotting, events and marketing partnerships. While we’ve broadened our client list to include travel services, and solidified partnerships with FOHR Card, Tinsel & Twine and LuxStory to expand our capabilities, perhaps most distinctively, we have remained, at heart, a “boutique agency,” allowing us to deliver personalized, attentive service to clients every day. With this in mind, we should all look forward to continued growth and success ahead.
Please take the time to read the articles presented here as they were developed specifically to guide, inspire, enrich and help us all be better at what we do. Thank you all for making HIPR the special agency I am so proud and fortunate to lead!
– Jennifer Hawkins, Founder & President, Hawkins International Public Relations
More and more luxury travel destinations and services are turning to HIPR for help in developing innovative, omni-channel marketing communications strategies that can help capture greater global consumer attention and mindshare. They admire the creative campaigns and bottom-line results we’ve generated for our clients, and that recognition is helping us to attract new partners that want to collaborate with us. To increase your brand visibility and reputation, and help drive your businesses forward, consider these insights, researched and developed by HIPR’s Social Media Team:
Digital Marketing, PR & Communications with a Focus on Winning! Traditional PR is no longer enough to amplify awareness of your property to your key audiences. Communication is constantly evolving and you need an integrated strategy in place to succeed.
Instagram is single-handedly the most important platform for travel brands. Instagram’s new geo-location search capabilities allow users to discover destinations (and properties) – so don’t forget to geo-tag!
Twitter is also a powerful tool for consumers to discover your hotel. Travel-themed content “trends” each week meaning you have an opportunity to tap into this tuned-in audience. Monitor hashtags like #TravelTuesday #WanderlustWednesday, and actively participate in live Twitter Chats that are hosted weekly by companies like Travel + Leisure, Expedia, and Travel Weekly.
Facebook enables you to target exact demographics based on age, location, interests and more, allowing you to deliver your messages to the right people. Include a Facebook ad spend into your budget and boost posts highlighting seasonal offerings, special promotions and more each month to gain a competitive advantage.
No Photos, No Features. Having quality photography featuring your hotel is vital. These images are a big part of the first impression your hotel makes and you need to include pictures whenever you’re pitching to the media.
Make sure that your photographer can also capture content specifically for social media – these are less staged and should inspire conversation amongst your fans on social media.
Take these efforts to social media as well by having them build their own channels to amplify their voice and insights through Twitter Chats, YouTube interview series and LinkedIn blog content.
Sell your story by showing the experience. A press release can only go so far. Allocate enough budget for regular press trips throughout the year so writers can experience your hotel first hand, and regularly invite on-brand social media influencers and bloggers to capture content and share their experience in real-time to bolster your social media following.
Be sure to tell your property’s story through new content mediums like video to put you ahead of the curve. You know better than anyone the endless amount of personalities and stories that will give your narrative more dimension than photos alone – think behind-the-scenes looks into the making of a new recipe or cocktail, interviews with the staff, or tutorials on how to replicate a hotel spa-worthy treatment at home.
Measure and track your successes. Monitor your Google Analytics to track what placements drive web traffic to your hotel’s website—you’ll probably be surprised. A New York Times hit is impactful, but a key article in a regional publication or niche blog may move the needle more significantly.
Use these insights to drive your communication plan. Once you know what outlets your customers are reading, you can further refine your PR strategy and approach these outlets for larger partnerships, promotions and even events.
The click-heeled service of your hotel team is legendary. The stunning lobby opens wide to a remarkable stay. Nearby natural and cultural wonders simply must be experienced. And just wait until people get a load of the new multi-million-dollar renovation.
While HIPR has great success painting inviting pictures of hotel and resort offerings via media “old” (words and imagery) and “new” (digital and social), recent developments in Virtual Reality appear poised to transform travel public relations and perhaps even travel itself. We’re ready to lead success in that too.
An immersive technology that simulates the physical presence of real and imagined environments, Virtual Reality goes beyond page and screen to let viewers interact with those environments. Picture peering at the oceanfront in Hawaii, smelling salt air and feeling mist, and then being transported via wormhole into the lobby of a hotel at the scene. That’s not a dream: It’s the fully immersive “4-D” Virtual Reality experience of Marriott’s “Travel Brilliantly” campaign, which utilizes Oculus Rift D2 headsets and Teleporter stations to enable people to not just read about, but experience Marriott hotel products on the other side of the globe. As related by a Bloomberg writer: “You feel as if you’re in a movie playing 360-degrees around you, all above you, underneath your feet.”
With Virtual Reality technology becoming more affordable and portable, opportunities to utilize it are growing. Witness The New York Times recent complimentary offer of Google Cardboard viewers to print subscribers to experience immersive news stories with the NYT VR app for IOS and Android. Marriott isn’t the only travel outfit blazing trails in Virtual Reality. In late 2014, Thomas Cook introduced select stores in the UK, Germany and Belgium that enable customers to “try before they buy” via immersive Virtual Reality content such as a helicopter tour of Manhattan and an overview of a resort and nearby attractions in Cyprus. Last May, Qantas Airways began showcasing destinations within its network via Virtual Reality,with 360-degree explorations of the Great Barrier Reef via Samsung’s Gear VR headset at select international lounges and flights.
While there are other travel examples besides, Virtual Reality is only just beginning to gain traction in the industry. In the same way that HIPR was early in its embrace of social media and digital communications for travel PR, so we are looking forward to tapping our clients into Virtual Reality – wherever it may lead. When you are ready we can take you there!
As the travel industry continues to change and evolve, HIPR develops strategies across myriad platforms, and uses our historical strength in storytelling. Our robust and passionate team of publicists focus on communicating clients’ stories to traditional and new media alike.
In addition to the National Park Service turning 100, 2016 marks major anniversaries for several of our clients. This led us to thinking that we could share our take on leveraging such milestones to cut through editorial clutter, and have brands get noticed. The occasion can be an energizing experience for both past and future guests, current and former employees, principles and other “publics,” and a great way to command the spotlight. By focusing attention on a property’s heritage and accomplishments, an anniversary celebration can raise a property or brand’s profile and create lasting goodwill.
Several HIPR clients marking noteworthy anniversaries in the coming year include:
America’s first resort, Virginia’s Omni Homestead Resort, is celebrating its 250th anniversary in 2016. Nestled in the quaint town of Hot Springs, VA, the iconic resort has played host to more than 20 presidents, royalty, dignitaries, celebrities, and vacationers alike since the 18th century. Next year, the property is celebrating with special midweek rates from $176.60 per night– paying homage to its 1766 founding. The Resort will also commemorate the momentous milestone next year with 366 days of birthday celebrations, which include afternoon tea events, a monthly speaker series, special gatherings, fireworks displays, and much more.
An alluring escape since its founding by Laurance Rockefeller, Caneel Bay, is gearing up to celebrate its 60th anniversary in 2016. The charming St. John get-away is commencing a resort-wide renovation of its rooms, led by famed interior designer Mary McDonald. The refresh will draw from the island’s own history (including the incorporation of original cave etchings found on the island in subtle design details) with inspiration from the resort’s present and future as well.
Le Guanahani, St. Barth’s most irresistible private enclave, is gearing up to celebrate its 30th anniversary in 2016. Originally opened in 1986 and expanded in 1991, Le Guanahani has established itself as a haven of casual luxury, comfort and elegance. An authentic reflection of St. Barth in the French West Indies, the hotel has evolved into the island’s finest destination for active travelers, families, honeymooners and more.
Despite the opportunity for a news hook, there is much to consider when publicizing an anniversary. Keep in mind too that hotels, resorts, cruise ships and brands have an entire year to celebrate! To leverage the momentous year, we’ve tapped the braintrust of HIPR’s Content Studio to get their take on creating celebrations that are both appropriate, fun and media-worthy. According to HIPR Senior Content Strategist Catherine Colford, using such milestones means plenty of research, and smart, advance planning. Begin with a goal for the celebration and an intended message to deliver. Decisions on how to mark an anniversary must take into account the size, resources, and audience(s).
Tips for Making Your Anniversary a PR Success:
- Journey Through the Past – Look back. Dig through old records, guest books, news clippings, area libraries, etc. to identify significant events and key players. Displays of historical materials amplify the significance of the celebration, and make for compelling visuals with media pitches.
- Target Audience – Identify target audience(s) and craft messaging that speaks to the unique “publics.”
- Graphics – Create a dedicated anniversary logo to underscore the celebration, and develop of series of infographics and slideshows to help audiences travel through time visually.
- Shout Outs – Anniversaries are the perfect time to honor past leaders and to express gratitude for their contributions to the organization’s progress.
- Small But Mighty – Tap into on-property talent by creating events and promotions that speak to the celebratory year. From signature cocktails with proceeds benefitting a worthy charity to special packages inspired by the property’s history, locale and philosophy; these are surefire ways to gain momentum, attention and anniversary excitement among consumer and trade audiences alike.
- Big Bang – Planned activities should include at least one epic occasion that brings the organization’s leaders—past and present—together with current players.
- Rally & Recharge – Create momentum for the brand’s future. Inspire and spark enthusiasm necessary to capitalize on current activities and launch new initiatives.
Well-researched and creatively-presented content is at the heart of our PR strategy for every client. From educating clients on bringing hot experiential travel trends to life, to crafting engaging pitches to secure exclusives, and maximizing exposure for user-generated content on social media, content drives every PR tactic we implement.
Our tapped-in team knows what’s trending in every industry too, from travel and lifestyle, to food and wellness, and shares this knowledge to help our clients develop newsworthy programming to grab journalists’ attention. Our dedicated Content Strategists leverage news hooks and seasonality to aggregate like-minded details from our clients into proactive and timely trend round-up press releases and pitches, while our detailed Editorial Calendar ensures clients’ brands are being opportunistic by implementing media-worthy programming surrounding seasonal holidays and events.
ON OUR BEDSIDE TABLE….
Take a look what’s inspiring us this month. Get jazzed, discover your potential, and leverage it
to drive organizational success!
- 10 Things Woman Entrepreneurs Need to be Aware of in 2016 – By Billee Howard
- Introduction to Brand Strategy: 7 Essentials for a Strong Company Brand – By Carly Stec
- Tiny Hotels: Check In, Then Squeeze In – By Michelle Castillo
- Expedia Acquires Airbnb Rival Homeaway for $3.98B – By Frederic Lardinois
- What You Aren’t Seeing – The Inspiring Story of Herb Greenberg – By Patrick Sweeney
- Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us – By Daniel H. Pink
- Grow Your Value – By Mika Brzezinski
- Thinking Fast & Slow – By Daniel Kahmanen
- Highly Recommended – By Paul Rand
- So Good They Can’t Ignore You – By Cal Newport
- Euphoria – By Lily King
Philanthropy is a major part of what we do at HIPR and in 2015 we came together as an agency to make a difference. We participated in a range of charitable endeavors with New York Cares and Dress for Success, including toy and coat drives, back pack donations, and more. Donning our pink to Make Strides Against Breast Cancer, we walked together as a group in Central Park to raise $3,200! When we first started fundraising in September our team goal was $1,000, but with everyone’s support and enthusiasm (via our team page(s), Walk, Friday Beer Cart and Boobie Bake Sale) we TRIPLED our efforts!
If you would like to learn more about us, and explore ways in which we can work together, please reach out:
119 W 23rd St #600, New York, NY 10011