Passion Led Us Here: Blogging

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The topic for my blog stemmed from my passion for travel, and the inspiration I drew from the travel industry. When I began my blog, I knew the possibilities were endless in terms of the direction I wanted to go with it. The best part about this was that I ended up taking many of my blog topics in unexpected directions, such as eco-friendly travel tips and the re-branding of a Mexico state that I’ve grown up visiting.

Throughout the term, I continued to be invested in my blog reflecting who I was, my passions and who I wanted to be as an aspiring PR professional. In order to do this, I tried my best to follow through with my social media plan. I had the most success with Instagram and Twitter but struggled with LinkedIn.

I gained so much through my experience with this project and from this course in general, and I’d love to share with you what I’ve learned.

  • Writing is a process. Each blog post begins with an idea, followed by reading a research. I would think about what I read, and try to formulate my own thoughts and ideas on it. This process took time, but when it came to the actual writing there was another process of editing and revision. For the best outcome, pacing yourself and taking your time is going to set yourself up for success.
  • PR is everywhere. At the beginning of this course, I was worried I wouldn’t be able to incorporate a PR angle into each of my blog posts. Our class discussions and drawing inspiration from my classmates and their feedback really helped with this. Reading about my topic and following accounts on social media was my main source of inspiration.
  • Be open-minded. Setting an intention for yourself, or your blog post, doesn’t mean you have to end up following that. When I started my blog, I thought I would write primarily about airline travel, and never expected to talk about the environmental effects of traveling. Being open-minded with possible blog topics could lead to something great.
  • Be yourself. My experience with blogging showed me how important it is to stay true to who you are. Finding my voice through my blog and maintaining consistency with my writing was one of my biggest challenges, but I found that I experienced the most growth when I was challenged or uncomfortable with the process. I found the most success with writing when I was talking about something that I cared about, and wanted to write about and share my thoughts on. Overall, my advice for blogging is to always return to what you are inspired by.
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An InsPiRing Talk: Karen Freberg

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Today I had the pleasure of listening to social media and public relations expert Karen Freberg talk to my J452 class. Her forty-five-minute talk was filled with inspirational insights, advice, and optimism about the future of social media and how it plays a role in PR campaigns.

During my first internship, I learned how to get to know your audience and how to target them through strategic and well-thought-out content. Working for Resonate Digital Marketing for the past year has taught me a lot about developing social media content, but Dr. Freberg’s talk today showed me that I have so much more to learn. I was overwhelmingly inspired to continue on this path of working with social media.

Here are some of my primary takeaways from Dr. Freberg’s incredible talk –

  • PR campaigns are always evolving
    • PR campaigns are always evolving due to the fast pace evolution of social media. I learned that it can sometimes be difficult to keep up with how quickly social media changes and successful campaigns come as a result of keeping up with these changes.
  • Find your brand voice and purpose
    • As aspiring PR professionals, we have learned through this class how important it is to communicate the purpose and voice of the organization you are representing.
  • Social media brings a lot to the table for PR
    • Social media gives PR campaigns countless opportunities to reach an organizations target audiences. It gives organizations the opportunity to engage with their audiences, and evaluate the success of their campaigns. Something that Dr. Freberg emphasized in her talk was the approach of social media campaigns, and how background research including competitor and SWOT analyses are crucial to the success of your campaign.
  • Networking
    • Dr. Freberg made it very clear to the class how important networking is, especially in the field of social media. Who you know can lead to countless opportunities, as well as setting yourself apart with what you can do, meaning the skills that you have that people will want to hire you for or give you credibility.

Overall, I found Dr. Freberg’s talk inspiring and it gave me so much hope as an aspiring PR professional. Personally, I felt as though so much of what she discussed what relevant to the work that I’ve done and the skills I’ve been building. This makes me optimistic and excited about the future of social media and really made me realize that I want to be a part of it.

Inspiration is everywhere, and today I found it while listening to an incredibly qualified individual that aspire to be like one day.

Travel Tips & Infographics

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When I decided to write about travel PR at the beginning of the term, I didn’t think my blog would turn out to be focused primarily on the environmental effects. So many resources are needed to make travel possible, but the harmful effects are catching up with us quickly.

Throughout this term, I’ve learned that there are countless changes travelers can make that can largely impact the negative effects of traveling on the environment. A primary resource for a lot of my information and blog topics have come from TravelPulse, a news source that is dedicated to revolutionizing the way that travel content is consumed.

I decided to use many of the eco-friendly travel tips I’ve accumulated throughout the term in order to create an infographic that might help people make small changes that have a big impact.

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This assignment really pushed me outside my comfort zone and changed the way I think about creating infographics. It was definitely more challenging than I thought and proved to me that a lot of thought and strategic communication goes into what might appear as a simple infographic.

I also learned a lot about messaging while creating this infographic. The process of deciding on the message I wanted to convey, and who I wanted to convey it for, was probably the hardest part. How do you impact people’s perspectives enough with a simple visual that resonates with people enough that they not only take away the information but make a change in their lives as a result?

 

A New Vision for Quintana Roo: Mexico’s Hidden Gem

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Quintana Roo, Mexico, is the state home to famous tourist attractions such as Cancun, Cozumel, and Tulum. Quintana Roo is also the Mexican state that I’ve grown up visiting. Many of my childhood memories are spent playing on the white sand beaches, swimming with dolphins and adventuring through the underground freshwater river systems that run throughout the state. As I aim to make connections with the travel industry with my own personal experiences and perspectives on public relations, this week’s topic hits especially close to home.

Continuing on with this week’s theme of destination travel and tourism, I wanted to reflect on the vision that the newly appointed tourism director, Darío Flota, sees for Quintana Roo. According to the Travel Pulse article, “Quintana Roo’s New Tourism Director Shares His Vision With TravelPulse” Flota plans of developing identities for numerous cities, towns and island communities and establishing their presence on social networks in order to draw more tourists.

In addition to Flota’s vision for the future of Quintana Roo, I have some ideas of my own for expanding Quintana Roo’s tourism reputation.

  • Cenotes. If a potential tourist is deciding between visiting Baja California, Cabo San Lucas or Cancun, cenotes are a huge selling point. If you’ve never heard of cenotes before, they are a freshwater river system that interconnects underground. These rivers are accessible along the Riviera Maya and require a small fee to access. They are a safe, fun and unique experience for everyone.

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  • Social Media. I’ve referred to Quintana Roo as the hidden gem of Mexico for a reason. Many people haven’t heard of it, even though it is the home to many famous cities. Darío Flota plans to develop the presence of many cities on social networks, but my advice would be to strategically target people who are unaware of these under-the-radar destinations and help draw people to them.

 

  • Unique attractions that set them apart. So many attractions that Quintana Roo destinations have to offer are, above all, unique. From Mayan monuments to jungle zip lining adventures, the possibilities are endless. Quintana Roo also has an admirable record of attracting the same visitors over and over again. The fact that people who visit keep coming back are a huge selling point, and something that should be focused on in all promotional efforts.

 

 

 

 

Swap to Save: Why Tourists Should Swap Their Sunscreen to Save Coral Reefs

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According to the New York Times article, on May 1, 2018, Hawaii became the first state to pass a bill banning sunscreen that includes chemicals that are believed to be damaging the ocean. Coral reefs, in particular, are deteriorating due to the harmful chemicals found in sunscreen. Up until this point, the thousands of people that swim in Hawaii’s crystal clear waters, attempting to appreciate and enjoy the ocean’s natural beauty, probably weren’t aware of how harmful their sunscreen is the ocean.

The New York Times article explains how an estimated 14,000 tons of sunscreen is believed to be deposited in oceans annually. The most amount of damage is likely going to be found in places where swimming is most populated in Hawaii and the Caribbean. Additionally, an NPR article titled, “Chemicals In Sunscreen Are Harming Coral Reefs, Says New Study,” states that we’ve lot 80% of the coral reefs in the Caribbean.

Many travelers today, especially younger generations, are becoming increasingly self-aware when it comes to their environmental effects. This, along with their willingness to participate in any steps in terms of protecting our planet, is working in favor of delivering this message universally to all travelers. It also means that environmental issues are important to many travelers today, therefore they’re more likely to be accepting of an idea such as making sure your sunscreen is chemical free before traveling to Hawaii.

Educating potential tourists on the damage that traditional sunscreen can have on coral reefs will be essential in the rebuilding and regrowth of these natural wonders. After all, many tourists are drawn to Hawaii for the purpose of snorkeling amongst these coral reefs, which might not be a possibility if the damage continues down this path.

Gohawaii.com is a popular website that tourists visit when planning or booking a trip to Hawaii. The website includes information about the islands, facts about Hawaiian culture, as well as a multitude of experiences for potential island tourists. Along with GoHawaii are countless other websites drawing people to visit Hawaii, all of which are perfect opportunities to educate potential tourists on how to enjoy the island and keep it beautiful, thriving and alive.

Delivering the message in a way that expresses how one small decision, such as replacing your sunscreen, can drastically improve the conditions of Hawaii’s beautiful coral reefs.  Advertising reef-safe sunscreen alternatives like TropicSport and Raw Elements will encourage people to make the simple change that can have a largely positive effect.

Will wine save Santorini?

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Santorini is the perfect luxurious and picturesque vacation destination, right? This is why thousands of people flock to Santorini each year. In fact, so many people visit Santorini every year that the island is struggling to keep up with the skyrocketing increase in tourism.

From a public relations perspective, re-focussing Santorini’s outreach to tourists is crucial to the future and success of the island. If tourists want to have the opportunity to visit Santorini in the future, discouraging an abundance of visitors while reaching and encouraging the emerging wine tourism market will be an important but difficult task.

The solution to this problem, as expressed in the CNN article,  “Can wine help save Greece’s Santorini from too much tourism?” is in fact wine. The planting and growing of wine grapes instead of digging up land to build more houses to support the people who visit, live and work in Santorini is what is going to save the future of the island.

The good news is people LOVE wine from Santorini. In fact, it has become an integral part of the tourism industry on the island.

The messaging tactic I would use would be encouraging people to buy wine and beginning to promote wine as the primary attraction associated with Santorini. The more people that purchase wine from Santorini, the more they will be able to fund repairs and maintenance on the island that will allow tourists to keep coming back.

As an aspect of PR that is important to me, and a fundamental value of who I want to be as a PR practitioner is honesty. This PRSA core ethical value would be crucial in delivering the message tourists about WHY wine is important, and how the high level of tourism has become an issue.

Changing people’s actions begins with changing their perceptions. Promoting the uniqueness of Santorini wines while at the same time being honest about the state of the island in terms of the effects of tourism are going to determine whether or not people will be able to keep traveling there.

 

Dear millennials, where are you headed next?

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When I created this blog, I set the intention to incorporate my passion for traveling with my perspective as an emerging public relations professional. I wanted to use my own experiences and ideas surrounding travel PR to provoke my own thoughts, as well as the thoughts of anyone who reads this blog.

As a millennial, I find it extremely interesting to look at where my generation is traveling, and what is motivating them to visit those places. Many times, it’s a result of social media influence. I can’t count the times I’ve seen a social media influencer post about the incredible places they’re going on their Instagram accounts, with beautifully edited photos that instantly make you want to go there too. Other times, it’s because you’ve seen this particular destination on TV, or seen commercials or advertisements.

Public relations plays a huge role in motivating people to visit the destinations they’ve been dreaming about, or in my generation’s case, seen on Instagram countless times. The question I want to explore today is what influence does PR have on my generation in terms of motivating us to travel? Does PR dictate where millennials want to travel and why?

I read an interesting Forbes article that helped provoke my thoughts on this, which stated that “the millennial generation is known for placing a high emphasis on being unique, and a major part of that is growing their identity through culturally rich experiences and exploration of the unknown — both of which travel provides in full. ” This idea that millennials desire a customized travel experience, one that differs from anyone else’s, is both interesting and relatable.

In order to target a generation that wants to create their own experiences, providing them with the means to completely personalize their travel experience would be my first approach. According to the 2017 Adobe Digital Index U.S. Working Millennials Survey, “70 percent of this generation — particularly the younger ones, ages 18 to 24 — value experiences over things, and 86 percent say they don’t want to miss out on life experiences.”

Another interesting statistic that provokes this idea is that 70 percent of millennials follow travel brands on social media. The journey, for them, is one of engagement, interaction, and collaboration.

Knowing this, it seems that the most effective way to target millennials as a travel PR professional is through social media. The key moving forward will be targeting this generation through social media, using the messaging strategy of inspiring them to customize and create their own travel experiences.

 

3 Eco-Friendly Shifts Hotels are Implementing

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I think it’s been ingrained in our brains to be aware to be as environmentally conscious as we can in our day to day lives. We are told to be aware of our carbon footprint, make sure we recycle, carpool with friends to work, etc. In our daily routines, it can be hard to think about the big picture and be aware of how our actions are affecting the planet.

In this week’s blog post I wanted to take a look at what the travel industry is, or isn’t doing, in terms of being eco-friendly.  The question I want to address is what are hotels, in particular, doing to become more sustainable? The hospitality industry uses a lot of resources in order to provide their services. Because hotels use up so many resources, there is a lot of room for improvement in terms of making small changes that might greatly impact our planet.

  1. Reducing the use of harmful chemicals (via travelplus.com)

Many global hotel companies are beginning to use new, non-chemically bleached, natural colored bed linens and towels that are less harmful to the environment. This eco-friendly linen program was implemented by Accor hotels in order to promote sustainable development. The benefits of introducing chemical-free linens will have countless environmental benefits, including reductions of CO2 emissions, average water consumption and the volume of chemicals used to bleach the linen.

This movement will not only draw countless customers who care deeply about doing their part in caring for the environment but hopefully establish a new standard for other hotels as well.

2. Reducing water consumption (via latimes.com)

The article from the LA Times, “More hotels are going green, and not just to save water or money,” discusses the movement many hotels are making in terms of changing the greenery in order to save water. Specifically, The Intercontinental Los Angeles Century City Hotel is replacing all their plants with succulents. Succulents are draught-tolerant plants that require a significantly less amount of water than draping ivy plants, which previously hung from all 361 rooms. Also, a California Courtyard by Marriott swapped 900 square feet of turf and flower beds for native California grass. This change helped cut water use by 15%.

But why should hotels reduce their water usage?

In California, the severe record-setting droughts have motivated hotels to make changed that reduce the amount of water they’re using.  The LA Times articles states that “An Earth-friendly image is also important because many corporate travel managers insist that their workers stay at hotels that do their part to improve the environment,” which encompasses the public relations side of making an environmental change that not only benefits the environment, but draws people to your hotels as well.

3. Moving towards sustainable energy (via nytimes.com)

The Fairmont hotels are taking initiative when it comes to sustainable energy. According to the New York Times article, The Fairmont properties have converted their front desk computers to run on wind energy. Many of The Hilton hotels have converted to biodiesel as an alternative fuel that is eco-friendly. Using biodiesel has reduced greenhouse gases produced by the Hilton by 78%.

So… Why does all of this matter?

Sustainable energy has a large role in promoting an environmentally-friendly image for hotels across the world. The more companies are proving themselves to be more “green” the more people have been drawn to staying there. The eco-friendly changes that many hotels are making are ALSO economically friendly. Many companies are now considering conservation measures to be good investments. This is good news for us and for our plant.

The Travel Industry and… #MeToo?

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Before taking a closer look, I don’t think I was fully aware of the scale to which the travel industry is dominated by men. As a millennial, West Coast born-and-raised female, the idea of traveling being dominated by men seems an almost surreal or outdated idea. I should be able to go anywhere, do anything, and be anything that I want in this world.

But despite my ability to buy a plane ticket and fly pretty much anywhere, the issue of gender inequality is prominent in this industry, just as it is unfortunately present in many other facets of life in 2018. The idea that the travel industry is still a male-dominated field is a very real issue that is equally as important to address as it is in countless other industries and fields of work that not only employ women but give them the ability to be free and explore the world.

The New York Times article In an Era of Empowerment, More Trips for Women” was extremely thought-provoking on the topic of female empowerment in the travel industry. The travel industry to jumping on board the #MeToo train doesn’t seem like just an excuse to hone in on a popular trend in order to drawn attention to themselves. I feel this way because of the effect that the travel industry joining the #MeToo movement, and how it has so much to do with not only bringing awareness to the issue but also acting on and making changes when it comes to gender equality.

The New York Times article discusses how countless travel companies including Intrepid Travel, Adventure Women, and WHOA have made efforts in organizing trips and tours that are specifically available for women and led by female guides. Trafalgar Tours introduced the #SheGoes campaign, inspired by #MeToo, which highlights opportunities that Trafalgar Tours had to offer that intend to build women’s confidence when it comes to traveling.

Many of these women-centered travel opportunities didn’t begin with the #MeToo movement (aside from #SheGoes) but were given a chance to be recognized and taken advantage of by women during a time where women empowerment and gender equality is such an important and popular topic.

In the eyes of a public relations professional, I would see an opportunity to promote these travel companies in a way that stand for the values of the company, participate in a worldwide movement and conversation about an important topic, and also provide an opportunity that takes a step in the right direction in terms of gender equality.

The positive influence of the #SheGoes campaign is also present in how the Middle East responded. The New York Times article also states that The Middle East embraced the movement, despite the fact that female empowerment is rarely spoken about in public. Their participation in celebrating National Women’s Day encourages Middle Eastern women to participate in this movement, and open the conversation about gender equality to anyone who wants to participate. The W Hotel’s participation in the #SheGoes and #MeToo campaigns largely influenced the participation of the Middle East, which is a huge accomplishment for the travel industry.

In the eyes of a public relations professional, I would see an opportunity to promote these travel companies in a way that stand for the values of the company, participate in a worldwide movement and conversation about an important topic, and also provide an opportunity that takes a step in the right direction in terms of gender equality.

Code of Ethics

 

 

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In term of guiding my blog’s code of ethics, I wanted to ask myself these questions –  What are your professional values? Who do I want to be as a future PR professional?

For my blog, I promise to abide by the following –

  1. Be authentic. The content on this blog will reflect who I am, including my personal and professional interests. Authenticity is my number one personal value, so I think it would be fitting that this value comes first. Authenticity on this blog will include content that reflects my personal viewpoints on travel and public relations in a genuine and respectful manner.
  2. Be honest. You know what they say, honesty is the best policy. I truly think that this applies to all aspects of life, both in and outside the workplace. I think it goes as far as what type of person you want to be. I will always link my sources and never claim work that is not my own.
  3. Be Transparent. I think that being transparent going hand in hand with honesty and authenticity.  I aim to be transparent and honest with who I am, and the topics that I discuss on this blog.
  4. Be responsible. As an aspiring PR professional, this blog will serve as a reflection of the responsible and ethical individual I aspire to be in life, and in the workplace.