PR Siren: travel, social media & marketing

Social media round up – Virgin Galactic and Richard Branson’s search for his inspiration

A worldwide search has been launched in a bid to offer a VIP ticket to the boy who ‘inspired’ Virgin Galactic, Sir Richard Branson’s commercial spaceflight company. Speaking at the launch, Sir Richard claimed it was a conversation in 1988 with a young boy named Shihan Musafer on the BBC children’s show ‘Going Live!’ that inspired him to register the Virgin Galactic name. A trip to space with Virgin Galactic currently costs US$250,000 (£149,000) but the company says that so far more than 700 aspiring astronauts have booked a seat to the stars. Can you help Virgin Galactic with their mission to find Shihan? Tweet @richardbranson and @virgingalactic using the #shihanmusafer hashtag.

Richard Branson Virgin Galatic

This week, TripAdvisor announced the top destinations for 2014, based on millions of user reviews. The list makes for fascinating reading and will almost certainly have you pining for your next holiday. The compilation spans all four corners of the globe – so the question may not be which to visit, but which to visit first. It’s good news for the UK – our fine capital takes a respectable bronze medal, with Rome and Istanbul taking silver and gold respectively. We live in a time where user generated content and reviews become more important for destinations and travel companies and it’s interesting to see a list of preferred cities based solely on consumer/traveller comments. The big question – where will you go next?

Ever fancied a job in travel photography? Well perhaps Instagram is the place to start. Globe trotter Lauren Bath has funded her world travels by uploading her snaps onto Instagram. From Manta Rays in Fiji to baby turtles in Queensland, Lauren has an extensive collection of destination photographs. With over 350,000 Instagram followers it was only a matter of time before she gained a global reputation for producing perfect snaps. She is now able to travel the world, thanks to travel brands who want the super star photographer to capture their destination. Next stop New Zealand…

A journalist student at the University of Missouri has found a direct link between Twitter usage and levels of divorce and separation. Spending to long micro blogging could lead to a rise in arguments with your partner or even cheating. Richard Clayton who conducted the study of 581 people aged between 18 to 67 advises couples to only use the social networking site moderately. The study was based on previous research conducted on the links between Facebook and jealousy.

Social media round up – A Lion King performance above the clouds

This week we saw new meaning given to the term “inflight entertainment”. As passengers buckled in for Virgin Australia’s flight 970 from Brisbane to Sydney on Wednesday, they were treated to a seemingly impromptu performance from the cast of the hit musical The Lion King. The assembled cast burst into The Circle of Life, the iconic song which opens the musical. The clip, posted up by one of the show’s cast-members and then re-posted by Disney has clocked more than 5.5 million views within 48 hours. It has also been picked up by mainstream media outlets far and wide including The Los Angeles Times, The Daily Telegraph, The Huffington Post and The New York Daily News.

Love was truly ‘in the air’ as American Airlines and Twitter turned into a digital cupid for a woman called Erica Domesek. Miss Domesek, from New York, had a chance encounter with a man named Clauco but other than this small detail, and the fact that he was born in Torino and lives in Soho, she was at a loss as to how to get in touch after the flight when she realised she was smitten. So the New Yorker turned to Twitter and posted, ‘Dear @AmericanAir: just got off my flight with my future husband, but didn’t catch his full name. Wanna be match maker #flight1037’. While the airline couldn’t give out passenger details it retweeted the plea and helped to spread the word which resulted in friends of friends meeting in an Apple Store in NYC and the pair being reunited. Now that really is a modern day love story!

As ‘smart’ web-connected TVs become the norm in more households, it’s no surprise that we’ll see this technology utilised by travel companies wanting to tap into a digitally focused holidaymaker. This week, a smart TV app launched by Walt Disney Parks and Resorts will allow potential travellers to use their remote controls to research holidays at theme parks and hotels. The app will be free to download through the Samsung smart TV app store. It’s another example of a travel brand speaking to a target audience in a space where they are already engaged and offers an opportunity for Walt Disney to tell its story through a different platform.

Paris’s infamous love locks may be no more after a campaign has been set up to ban the practice which can commonly be seen on Pont des Arts and Pont de l’Archevêché. Traditionally, lovers will attach a lock to one of the grates on the bridge, and throw the keys into the river, symbolising their unbreakable love. The No Love Locks campaign, wants to rid the city of the 700,000 plus padlocks from the bridges and ban any more from going up. The campaign is not just a bitter backlash from those without a love of their own, but aims to highlight the safety concern of the sheer weight added to the bridges. The Pont des Arts is a small footbridge which now holds over 93 metric tonnes from the locks.

For those of us in our twenties, next week’s re-launch of Bebo will be a walk down memory lane. The founder, who re-purchased Bebo from AOL for a fraction of the price it was initially sold for, is set to re-launch the social media platform with a whole new angle. Bebo’s Blab will allow users to send short videos to friends and families regardless of whether the recipient has the app. Blab will allow travellers from around the world to keep in touch with friends and family making phrases such as ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’ part of a bygone era.

Holidaycottages.co.uk appoints Siren Communications to handle its PR

31 March 2014

Holidaycottages.co.uk, specialists in holiday property lettings across the UK, has appointed Siren Communications to handle its on-going PR activity.

Holiday Cottages Logo

With over 1,800 self-catering properties around the country including everything from cosy barn conversions on working farms, to grand mansions and country houses, Holidaycottages.co.uk is an independent, family business that has been offering award winning UK holidays since 1979.

Siren Communications has been briefed to raise Holidaycottages.co.uk’s profile and establish the site as one of the leading holiday property letting providers on the web.

James Morris, Holidaycottages.co.uk commented:  “It’s great to be working with Siren Communications on our forthcoming PR activity. The breadth of accommodation on offer and our own market research means there is a great deal of content available to develop campaigns that will educate consumers on the benefit of a letting for a holiday break. We’re confident that with Siren’s help our strong market position will be strengthened.”

Sarah Rathbone, Siren Communications’ deputy managing director added: “We’re thrilled to be working with Holidaycottages.co.uk. It’s a great win for the team and we look forward to being part of such a well-liked family run business. Our work will ensure Holidaycottages.co.uk grows its brand awareness, increases the integration of social media and brings to life the fun, value and accessible nature of a Great British holiday.”

For more information on Holidaycottages.co.uk or to book please visit www.holidaycottages.co.uk or call 01237 459 988.

 

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About Holidaycottages.co.uk

An award-winning family run business, Holidaycottages.co.uk specialises in letting a huge collection of holiday properties all across the UK and can provide everything from dog friendly and family holidays to romantic, group and accessible holidays. Holidaycottages.co.uk let everything from cosy barn conversions on working farms, to grand mansions and country houses sleeping multiple numbers of guests.

 

Media Enquiries: 
Siren Communications: Emma Wayman (emma.wayman@sirencomms.com), Matt Chandler (matt.chandler@sirencomms.com), Kate O’Brien (kate.obrien@sirencomms.com) or Sarah Rathbone (sarah.rathbone@sirencomms.com) on 020 7759 1150.

Social media round up – #HASHTAGSTORIES

Extending its reach further into the digital sphere this week, The Sun has become the first national newspaper to print dedicated hashtags alongside news stories. #HASHTAGSTORIES has been designed to encourage readers to share their thoughts online and join the conversation surrounding selected stories from the daily print edition.

wedding-twitter

We all know that nowadays no experience really counts unless it has been fully documented on social media. With that in mind, W Hotels has added a ‘social media wedding concierge’ as an option for happy couples tying the knot in any of its New York hotels. Until the end of the year, for the princely sum of $3,000, a dedicated social media expert will ensure the proceedings are live-Tweeted, uploaded to Facebook and Instagrammed with the most flattering of filters. The bride and groom will have their own dedicated blog as well as a unique wedding hashtag for the day that all guests will be encouraged to use. #WorthEveryPenny

 

This week, Instagram hit the 200 million users mark. Mark Zuckerberg the creator of Facebook, and owner of the photo sharing app broke the statistics in the middle of an investor-relations phone call to talk about his latest purchase the Oculus VR, which he acquired for $2 billion, almost twice the price he paid for Instagram! When the young entrepreneur first purchased the editing app he suggested that his team would be happy if they reached 100 million users. We are certainly looking forward to more exciting things to come.

 

Brand USA this week launched its new social media campaign, the Great American Road Trip. The campaign will run through the Brand USA Discover America channels, including Facebook, Twitter and the DiscoverAmerica.com website featuring 10 road trips and 39 states. A new trip will feature every few weeks targeting a different country, with the UK targeted in May with the Oregon Trail. Social media influencers from nine of Brand USA’s international markets will travel on each road trip, sharing stories and photos with their social media followers along the way. Discover America will also unveil its new Google Maps platform where travellers can explore the road trips, save and plan their own journeys, and share their road trip experiences. Travellers will later be able to pin their favourite points of interest on the map and view other traveller’s images. Discover America followers will also have access to curated playlists inspired by routes and road trips through a partnership with Spotify and Warner Music.

 

 

 

The Global Travel Group Conference – 2014

This year’s The Global Travel Group Conference took place at Carden Park Hotel, just outside Chester. The annual event offers The Global Travel Group agents and suppliers a chance to hear the latest business updates, enjoy presentations from a selection of guest speakers and network with others in the industry.

TGTG Conference 2014.

After the Sunday night quiz, the conference got off to a flying start first thing on Monday morning with an in depth update from The Global Travel Group managing director, Andy Stark. With increased sales of higher value products and long-haul holidays, it was a positive message for all agents in the room.

Business sessions throughout day one were informative and entertaining. Andy Freeth amused the audience with an energetic and engaging presentation which even included the first conference selfie. Next up was music mogul, Pete Waterman with a fantastic 60 minute presentation which could have no doubt been much longer with a vast back catalogue of stories from the music industry. As entertaining as it was, Pete had a serious point to make. “You can do anything as long as you put your mind to it. I never thought anyone was better than me. If you have a business, you have to believe in it”. It was a humble and valuable speech from a man once earning £1 million a day.

With agent panel sessions and an interactive ‘game show style’ presentation from Holiday Extras – the day flew by. The last of the business sessions was left to serial entrepreneur and multi-millionaire Lara Morgan. Lara made her fortune manufacturing and selling branded toiletries and amenities to the hotel industry. The audience were challenged to think differently and to be creative in how they approach new customers to win new business. Lara recounted a story of the time she had thrown almost everything she could at a client she wanted. With only the kitchen sink left to throw, she bought the best she could find, put a bow on it and sent it to said contact. Needless to say, she one the business.

The conference gala dinner was a great success. Fantastic food and wonderful entertainment from Ray Quinn, The Drifters and Britain’s Got Talent ventriloquist, Steve Hewlett made for a brilliant evening. The Global Travel Group awards were handed out to some of the best performing agents, showcasing a successful year for many members.

Day two and it was time for a spot of speed dating. A chance for agents and suppliers to network and discuss opportunities for the year ahead. After a morning of meeting and greeting it was time for Reggae Reggae Sauce creator, Levi Roots, to take to the stage. With a conference sing-a-long, a free bottle of spicy sauce and news of a potential ‘Rastaurant’ – we hope this is true – he entertained the conference with tales of how his business had grown. Levi left delegates with food for thought – a good way to end the business sessions.

All in all it was a fantastic couple of days – here’s to 2015…

Top tips – pitching to broadcasters

Over the last few weeks Siren Communications has been getting the low down on the changing trends in broadcast, so we thought we’d put together our top tips of the things you need to know right now…

broadcast tv camera

Last week we were invited to attend a PRCA event hosted by Markettiers4dc. Here’s what they had to say…

  • Tell the story. When it comes to broadcast you have about 30 seconds to pitch in a story to a journalist, they receive hundreds of pitches every day, all trying to get their story on prime time TV. In 30 seconds you need to tell the journalist the who, the where, the why and the when. Compose your sell-in line as if it were a tweet – get all the information across in 140 characters or less and take it from there.
  • Target your audience. Whether it’s TV, radio or online, it’s important to understand your audience. The first thing a journalist will ask is “why is this story interesting to my audience?”. Before pitching, plan out why you think the programme is right for your story and why that demographic would be interested in the news.
  • Put together the whole package. Broadcast journalists are busy people and have to sift through hundreds of pitches each and every day. To help your story make its way to the top of the pile, try to ensure you have the following ready to hand:
    • A relevant story
    • A spokesperson available for interviews
    • Raw footage (for TV and online being able to illustrate a story is key and if you can help the journalist do this, your story has a much higher chance of being included)
  • Don’t dismiss online. This might seem obvious and we know how exciting a broadcast on the BBC can be. Online video (if seeded in the right place) has a huge reach and can be viewed 24 hours a day for an indefinite period, as well as being shared through various different social media platforms.

To find out more about broadcast opportunities for your brand, just speak to one of the Siren Communications team.

Social media round up – The evolution of online travel

Recently, the Guardian shared its key milestones in the evolution of online travel. Since the launch of the web, there have been a variety of significant developments, launches and acquisitions that have seen a change in the way consumers/businesses book and purchase travel online. From the first digital catalogues and hotel booking systems in 1994 to the launch of Facebook in 2004, the world of travel has been changing at a frantic pace. As a mobile generation, same day booking platforms are the latest travel trend – harnessing the opportunity of ‘consumers on the move’. As the revolution continues, we can only begin to imagine what the next 25 years will bring…

Lonely planet founders

We all aspire to be a stylish traveller, but sometimes it’s just not that easy. With stuffy flights, connection sprints and weather that just can’t make up its mind, it’s hard enough to just keep up with it all, let alone be stylish. Luckily for us American retailer J Crew has teamed up with Casey Neistat (world-famous YouTuber best known for his inspirational ‘Make it Count’ video with Nike) to share his 17 top tips for stylish travel to promote the new Ludlow Suit. Fast-paced, quirky and just downright enjoyable… this video is a much watch before heading on your next adventure.

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Are you “umming” and “arring” over your perfect summer holiday? Well now you don’t have to, thanks to Thomson and First Choice who have launched a new ‘try before you buy’ tool. The ‘Holiday Open Day’ tool will allow indecisive travellers to identify the holiday options that are bested suited to them as well as being given a virtual tour from a first person perspective, that allows holidaymakers to choose preferred elements as they go along. The tool has been created to give potential travellers an insight into the day in a life of a TUI holidaymaker.

Women on Facebook and Twitter have been posting make-up free, bare-face ‘selfies’ with the hashtag #nomakeupselfie, to help raise awareness and support for Cancer Research UK. So far the pictures have helped raise over £1million. The #nomakeupselfie trend isn’t actually something Cancer Research UK started but if people would like to support their work to beat cancer they can visit www.cruk.org.

Social media round up – Condé Nast Traveler reveals its favourite travel hashtags

This week, Condé Nast Traveler rounded up its favourite travel hashtags on Instagram. KicksOnAPlaneThe photo sharing social media platform is ripe for boastful holiday snaps and in fact, as the article says, the very first Instagram photo was taken by its founder while travelling in Mexico in 2010. Now, our feeds are filled with sunny selfies and luxurious landscapes from around the world with some great accompanying hashtags. Take a look at #kicksonaplane and #airportcarpet for some original pre-holiday excitement and for more traditional internet fun, searching #travelcat will give you reams of kitties enjoying global destinations.

 

Fancy hitting the nail on the head when it comes to getting your brand message across to the consumer? Well it turns out that brand videos are the way to do it, with over 8 billion brand video views in 2013 alone – that’s an increase of 7,000 per cent since 2006. What’s more brand videos are shared 12 times more than Facebook text posts. With 36 per cent of online consumers sharing a video they spotted online surely the numbers speak for themselves.

 

Taking things sky-high, Gogo an American company that installs Wi-Fi on commercial airlines, announced that it is now possible to make calls and receive texts up in the air. The company demonstrated this latest technology on a private plane, 10,000 feet up in the air, where they invited a journalist from the Wall Street Journal, on to the flight and allowed them one phone call at SXSW in Austin, Texas this week.  Thankfully the in-flight power nap doesn’t look to have been replaced quite yet, as the calling feature has only been adapted for private jets – due to its unpopularity with commercial lines. While Gogo is yet to announce the cost of its in-flight texting service, the future looks bright for staying connected in the sky.

 

Finally, following our story last week on the top tourism boards that use Twitter like a real-time concierge; global travel industry intelligence website Skift announced the results of the latest SkiftIQ survey which focuses on airlines and Twitter. When flyers are stuck at the airport due to delays and waiting for answers they turn to Twitter in the hope of an answer within minutes. Skift’s survey pulled out the top airlines that answer flyer’s tweets within the hour. Those coming out on top included American Airlines, JetBlueUS AirwaysAir Canada, and Southwest as well as three other airlines based in Asia including IndiGo, Philippine Airlines, and PT Garuda Indonesia. Despite airlines’ relative success on social media in recent years, it seems there is a long way to go in terms of real-time responses when it matters most.

Siren Communications meet Buzzfeed UK

Recently, Siren Communications attended a breakfast briefing with Gorkana and Luke Lewis, editor of our favourite list-mad, source of procrastination, Buzzfeed UK.

Buzzfeed UK

Over 1,000 people RSVP’d to the briefing and attendees joined from all over the UK, speaking volumes about how influential the site is and how important it is becoming in the current media landscape.  The UK site, which celebrates its first birthday later this month, currently has over 16 million monthly unique visitors, 70% of which come from Facebook.

Buzzfeed UK readers are primarily from London and slightly skewed toward women. 60% of readers are aged between 18 and 34.

During the briefing, Lewis discussed two main things that work for Buzzfeed UK readers:

  • Humour – UK audiences are more like to engage with posts that are funny, compared to US audiences who respond more to emotional and uplifting posts
  • Identity – ‘listicles’ which highlight regional or other niche identities do very well in the UK, people share these posts with others in the same group

Easy to read, entertaining articles in the age of the short attention span are bound to be successful, this Buzzfeed has already proved. But what happens when it comes to the evolution of the more serious stories? In the UK, audiences still turn to broadsheets when looking for their politics and hard news fix. Can Buzzfeed UK change this?

In the States, Buzzfeed is recognised as the source for breaking news and political gold. In 2013, we followed the Boston Bomber man-hunt, while currently you can find the latest on the Russian crisis – from many angles.  Developing the politics and news beats are the key focus for the Buzzfeed UK team in their second year of business, backed with recent hires of editors from top-level ‘traditional’ publications; we are excited to see what comes next. In the meantime, let’s enjoy Buzzfeed UK’s most popular political post to date: 21 Pictures Of Politicians In Wellies Staring At Floods.

TEAM SIREN’S FIVE FAVOURITE BUZZFEED POSTS:

41 Reasons Why Pugs Are The Most Majestic Creatures On Earth

48 Reasons Why The World Desperately Needed An NSYNC Reunion

These Tiny Penguins Wearing Jumpers Will Make Your Heart Burst

28 Signs You Were A Teenage Take That Obsessive

37 Things You’ll Only Find Funny If You’re British (warning: explicit language)

Social media round up – Tourism boards using Twitter as a real-time concierge

Travel intelligence company, Skift has revealed the 11 tourism boards that use Twitter like a real-time concierge. Of the more than 450 destinations listed on Skift’s social data dashboard only 11 destination marketing organisations reply to travellers’ tweets in less than two hours, with only one UK board making the list. Of course, two hours isn’t fast enough for a tourist looking for real-time information, but it’s a step toward providing same-day information to people traveling to or already in a city.

Tourism Twitter Concierge

Tourism Ireland is bringing St. Patrick’s Day to the masses with an animated online parade. Facebook users are being encouraged to design their own floats – complete with leaping leprechauns, shamrocks and rainbows leading of pots of gold – which will be posted on the tourist board’s Facebook page. The 20 float designs that get the most likes will go into a draw to win one of two holidays to the Emerald Isle. #PasstheGuinness

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The Egyptian Tourist Authority has created an official UK Facebook page, designed to provide travel information as well as hosting polls and competitions to encourage engagement on the social community following recent instability. Facebook.com/LoveEgyptUK will also be used as a platform for the authority to provide travel and safety updates and to highlight Egypt as a safe and popular holiday destination for Brits.

For those addicted to Social Media, Coca Cola has come up with the ultimate solution… welcome the “Social Media Guard”, modelled on a cone that is used by vets to prevent dogs from getting to their wounds. In this scenario, the guard prevents us from looking at our phones, and hold our heads up to acknowledge what happens around us when we are not on Social Media… the beauty that is life

Celebrities have come out in force this week in a bid to save BBC three from being pushed to an ‘online only’ channel. Jack Whitehall, Greg James and Richard Bacon are just a few of the entertainment industry ‘big names’ to get behind the campaign. The official #saveBBC3 has been popular across Twitter – Bacon tweeted “If the rumours of it being cut are true, we might need to retool that 6Music Campaign”, Whitehall added “I really hope reports that the BBC may kill BBC3 are just rumours…their support of new comedy in particular is vital!”. With the backing of some well-known faces in the industry, we’re pretty confident the message will be heard loud and clear around the BBC boardroom table – the big question, will they sit up and take notice of the collective social media voice? Watch this space…