When you own a business, be it a bakery or a short-term vacation rental, protecting your reputation is important. One of the best ways to manage your reputation, is by drafting a public relations (PR) strategy to help you solidify relationships with key influencers.

What does PR really mean?

Public relations is simply about managing the public perception of a business. PR is quite possibly the least understood marketing tool out there and rightly so. PR is a difficult nut to crack because in order to be effective, it really has to be done through third parties. Unlike simply buying some Facebook ads, with public relations, you must depend upon influencers—members of the media, colleagues, and customers—to promote you. While public relations can be a powerful and low-cost way to market your short-term rental business, it will take a good amount of thought and strategy.

As an example of a public relations tactic that a vacation rental manager or owner might use would be to take advantage of newsworthy issues that media members and influencers are already talking about. For example, if you have transformed a vacation property into a 100% sustainable home, you may reach out to local advocacy groups or an influencer like Bea Johnson at ZeroWasteHome for a mention.

Even a brief blog mention or social media post can drive major traffic to your website, power bookings, and result in more mentions from different media outlets. Now, let’s look at how to put together your own public relations strategy so you can get the right kind of attention on your vacation rental.

Five Steps to Creating a Property Management PR Strategy

To develop a strong property management PR strategy, there are five things you need to do:

1. Define your goals. Why are you creating this PR strategy? What do you want to get from it? Is there a certain magazine you want to have your rental featured in? Is there a blog you want to appear on? Have your rentals been shown in a negative light and you want to take steps to turn that around? Whatever you want to get from your PR strategy, write those goals down so you can take steps to get there.

2. Know your audiences. As vacation rental managers and owners, we’re used to thinking about our audience as our customers, but in the context of PR, you have a couple of audiences to consider. There are your customers of course, but you also will be thinking about influencers in the industry—members of the media, members of your community, and more.

Clearly define those audiences by finding out where they will see your message, and what types of messages they best respond to. Essentially, you must understand what these audiences care about and how you can get in front of them.

3. Craft your brand message. With your goals and audiences defined, now you have to think carefully about what you want to say. Take some time to develop your brand message. What is important for your audiences to know when you’re looking through the lens of your business goals? What sort of language will they respond to? What does your rental offer that your audiences care about? What do you need to say so that those audiences will pay attention to you? This article is a good starting point to develop your brand message.

4. Divide your plan into sections. Your property management PR strategy should be broken into sections for your audiences because you will engage with them differently. Within those sections, you should include the strategies you will use for reaching each audience. For instance, you may wish to have a “Media Room” on your website for members of the press, or you may have a plan of attack to be mentioned by a potential list of influencers and blogs. Always keep in mind that PR is all about protecting your reputation and building relationships.

5. Brainstorm tactics. This is the fun part of creating a property management PR plan; coming up with ideas and tactics to get that carefully written brand message in front of your audience to meet your business goals! To get started, sign up for free to receive source requests from Help A Reporter Out (HARO). HARO helps connect journalists with expert sources (like you!) for upcoming stories.

These five steps should put you well on your way towards getting attention from the audiences you want to notice you.