Peel the Layers to Locate New Niches

It’s an occupational hazard for PR firm owners looking for an edge with clients and prospects: the commoditization of marketing communications.

Killer creative is all well and good, but it’s not hard to find.

In a hypercompetitive marketplace, clients not only want effective marketing campaigns with solid returns. They want PR firm owners to make a convincing case that PR investments can flow to the top and bottom lines, distinguish their brands and grow their customer base.

“We’re all trying to move the needle and you can’t move the needle if you keep doing the same things,” says Gail Moaney, APR, a founding managing partner and director of the travel/lifestyle practice at Finn Partners. “We all know the same tactics; what separates Finn Partners is that we go beyond a story of tactics and talk to our clients about what the future looks like and how we can help them set the agenda.”

Gail Moaney, a managing partner and director of the travel/lifestyle practice at Finn Partners. “You have to turn ‘campaigns’ into ‘movements.'”

She added, “You have to turn ‘campaigns’ into ‘movements.’”

Finn Partners brought that mindset to a recent survey it conducted targeting the travel/tourism industry. The New York-based PR firm generated $5.35 million in travel fees in 2016, per O’Dwyer, with an increase in such fees expected this year due to new clients coming on board.

The survey, titled, “Confessions Of A Modern Traveler,” points to new opportunities to develop custom tourism products for travel destinations and their hospitality partners looking to reach underserved travelers.

“We’re trying to get more closely aligned with what motivates people on a personal level when they travel, compared to standard travel and tourism surveys,” Moaney says. “We wanted to find out if travel is considered a life-changing experience and how it contributes to someone’s life beyond just taking a sightseeing tour. Clients ask: How do we provide a better beach experience? How do we deliver a memorable getaway?”

Justin Vallejo, VP at Finn Partners, adds that travel is one of the most over-surveyed industries in marketing, but most of those studies are reactive and based on observed data such as spending habits or room nights.

“We want to look at the behaviors that drive a traveler’s decision-making process so we can identify forward-looking opportunities before they’re observed on a spreadsheet,” he says, “and be ahead of the curve in creating a strategy to capitalize on those industry changes.”

One of the more salient findings of the survey is that nearly two-thirds of the 1000 respondents agree they behave differently on vacation.

The most likely to take risks or act out spontaneously on vacation are Millennials, aged under 30-years-old (78 percent), while those most likely to indulge in some “summer lovin’” with a romantic connection are aged between 30-44-years old (46 percent).

(For the full survey results, please click here.)

Moaney stresses PR firms have to tap into what’s unexpected about their clients’ products and services because that’s what holds the most consumer appeal. “That’s where consumers feel they get the most value,” she says, “where it’s not about cost, but how the experience impacts people emotionally.”


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