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PR & Social Media Toolkit

Public relations and social media are important aspects of marketing mix, both of which help to increase visibility of your destination or tourism business. However, these specialized skills can take up hours of time and sometimes aren't within your budget contraints. Knowing the difference these programs can make for our partners, the Colorado Tourism Office offers FREE public relations and social marketing services--providing access to over one million fans and followers, and thousands of media outlets. Here’s how you can take advantage:

 

PR 101

What is public relations?
Public relations is the practice of facilitating the spread of information between an individual or an organization and the public. Often, public relations is part of a broader marketing strategy and is considered a way to gain media or editorial exposure without direct costs. The aim of tourism public relations is to raise awareness of a destination or tourism experience, which in-turn increases visitors.

What does a PR plan look like?
In order to create a PR plan for your business, start by defining your strategy and the objectives you would like to achieve (i.e. generate additional tourism business, get the word out about an event or activity, etc.). Then, add the core elements to outline how you plan to achieve your objectives (i.e., update website calendar, e-blasts, press release to the CTO and local tourism organization). You can then devise unique and newsworthy story ideas about your business or products to attract media interest. It’s also good to identify your audience and the type of media that are likely to be interested in stories about your business. It’s also good to think about how relevant your news is for that publication.

How do I create my own PR plan? Keep it simple:

  • Understand your product/business/event; create a fact sheet and write down the key points of your message.
  • Define the goals of a public relations program.
  • Review your business plan basics — what is your target market, marketing components, primary objectives, etc.
  • Take a look at what your competitors or other similar businesses are doing
  • Listen to what your customers say about you and your competitors
  • Identify a spokesperson/expert.

Once I’m PR-ready, how do I share my information with the CTO PR team?
In this digital age, email is preferred. However, we invite your call, welcome the chance to visit and look forward to your letters. We can use your information in whatever way you prefer to communicate with us! Send us quick updates in an email with a summary description, bullet point lists, images, website and contact information, and we can follow up with any questions.

What kind of PR activity does the CTO team focus on?
The CTO PR team serves as a press office, handling inquiries from the press about travel and tourism news. The CTO team sends out two monthly press releases, one that specifically focuses on Destination Development and rural tourism news. The team also pitches” journalists on story ideas, using news tips sent in from businesses across the state. The team also identifies key media trends that writers might be interested in to do this. Throughout the year, the team also sends journalists on familiarization tours around the state, usually on a tailored itinerary based on a specific story focus.

 

Social 101

Starting in social media?
When you’re just starting out, it’s easy to want to do it all at once. There are so many platforms to be a part of, but often you’ll find that there isn’t enough time to devote to all of these communities--or that your audience isn’t necessarily investing their own time into the platform. Check the data and find out what’s the best fit for your brand and target audience. Once you identify the best platforms for you, keep an eye out for how your audience engages with your content. That’ll play a role in your social strategy.

What do I post?
Once you decide that the platform is right fit for you and your target audience, you’ll have to remember the most important part of social media - being social.  Social media is not push communication, it’s two-way communication. Not only will you be creating a consistent stream of content, you’ll also want to lead and join in on conversations surrounding your brand or relevant topics.

As a general rule of thumb, it’s better to not be on a platform than to have an inactive account. Consistency is key. By showing up, you’re  telling people that your brand is there for them. Above all, remember that they did not sign up to be “sold” something. Instead, produce advertorial content.

Types of things to post:

  • Story of your brand or destination (i.e. fun facts or “did you know…”)
  • Beautiful Imagery
  • How-to content (Have a restaurant? Show them how to make the perfect egg. If you are an outfitter, give them tips on how to wax skis - even if you offer the service.)
  • Sales messages: When relevant, feel free to put one out there, but make sure you find your brand voice and keep it light.

What can social do for my business?
It depends on the business and it depends on your goals. Some businesses want to generate awareness. Others want to generate leads or even sales. Whatever your goal, make sure your content themes and strategy ladder up to them and be able to measure it against those standards.

It is important to track how your content is performing so you can quickly identify what is working and if you are doing what you set out to do. Your team does not necessarily need to sign up for expensive monitoring software--most social media channels have ample analytics built into the page manager sections.

What kind of social activity does the CTO team focus on? Our social team is always looking for good content to share, so if you have some - let us know. We also have many programs that are geared towards using our existing channels to help you get the word out about your brand. While we tend to focus our efforts on destinations and associations so as to create an umbrella over the industry and maximize effect, we do help partners with coordinating with their local DMOs and becoming a part of their story on CTO’s channels.

These programs include: Social Media Co-op Program: A dollar for dollar match where we promote partner created content on social media. Instagram Takeover: A week-long takeover where partners can share the story of their destination. Facebook & Instagram Stories: Story sharing from partners that covers events, festivals, a day in the life and more. Colorado Content Crew: A group of Colorado-based content creators who generate content for events, powder days and much more. Giveaways: Social media giveaways, partners will supply things like swag, products, tickets, etc. Consulting: We try to make ourselves available to help with partners that may have questions about social media - if you have a question, reach out and let us know.

 

2. Next, Get Connected

Sign up for the CTO PR Hot Sheet and Colorado Connection industry newsletters. Released monthly, these emails highlight business opportunities like available grants, upcoming events, PR and journalist opportunities, monthly social media focus, and what’s happening across the state.

3. Get Even More Connected

Stay connected at the local and state level. Make sure you’re on the Colorado Tourism Office radar.

  • Tell us what you’re up to! We welcome information about your business — events, updates, press releases, newsletters, ideas, etc. Email or call--we look forward to hearing about happenings in your area.
  • Share information and events with your local tourism office. If you need help contacting them, we can help connect the dots and get you in touch with your tourism office, convention visitors bureau, chambers of commerce, etc.
  • Enter your business and event listing on Colorado.com.  We use the information/images/events listed on the Colorado.com website to include in our press releases, posts, pitches and newsletters. If you aren’t entered in our website database, we can’t talk about and promote your events or business. Official State Vacation Guide and Love, Colorado business listings are pulled from Colorado.com!
  • Once you are listed on Colorado.com link back to them! You will receive better search results when we are linked on each other's websites. Adding a link to Colorado.com anywhere on your site or from your social media posts, along with a sentence about getting inspired by or planning a Colorado vacation, helps ensure visitors looking for unique local travel experiences will find your site.
  • Share photos of your business or destination on Visit Colorado Facebook page and other social channels. With more than 750,000 FB followers and 240,000 Twitter followers, we can spread the word to potential visitors! Please send photos to Dave Fluegge, at [email protected].
  • To keep us up-to-date with happenings in your neck of the woods, put the entire CTO PR team on your distribution lists for press releases:

4. Now You’re Ready!

Make the connection work in your favor. If you are ready for more on the marketing front, here are some ideas to keep you going. Let us know how we may help you!

  • Host a familiarity tour (FAM) with the CTO team. We visit each region of the state to learn and become familiarized with the area. Hands on experience allow us to share information more authentically and creatively. We look forward to your invitation and the opportunity to experience what you’re up to! Contact Jackson Feld
  • Host a visiting journalist. Members of the media regularly visit Colorado to find out what’s new. They’re always looking for fun, unique opportunities and stories. Do you want them to visit your business, stay overnight, attend your event or try your craft product? Contact the PR team.
  • Participate in quarterly CTO media receptions. The CTO hosts industry partners and local journalists for a social event to sample Colorado products, mingle and showcase the state’s latest news and story ideas. Maybe we can serve your craft beer, sample your new cheese or feature your flavorful produce? Contact the PR team.
  • Provide product samples for media gift bags. What better way for a member of the press to understand your product then to sample, smell, feel or taste it? Please let us know if you have unique products to add to our gift bags. Contact the PR team.
  • Provide prizes for sweepstakes, contests, and promotions. We need products, overnight stays, meals and “swag” for Facebook giveaway prizes. Contact Dave Fluegge.
  • Make an appearance on our Instagram channel. Every week a different destination in Colorado get to take over CTO's Instagram page. This easy to use option is a simple and effective way to get your pictures and information out to over 150,000 followers. For information on the Instagram program, contact Dave Fluegge. Please note: Individual businesses should connect with their local tourism authority to find out how they can be included in this opportunity.