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PR Pulse Report September 2020

By Kristen Bonilla 09/18/2020

Media Hosting
In response to growing concerns around the COVID-related liabilities of hosting travel journalists and influencers, Visit California implemented a Media Visit Travel Waiver & Release. While it does not constitute legal advice, the waiver can be used as a template by industry partners hosting media. All points should be reviewed by legal counsel before using the waiver. Earned media coverage is a key component of Visit California’s marketing strategy, and the safety and protection of both the journalists and hosting entities is critical. Get the template and read more about its development.

Media Trends
The U.S. State Department has lifted its international ‘Do Not Travel’ advisory, which is an encouraging sign for the travel industry. The tourism industry is now officially in Stretch Season, extending the traditional summer travel season well past Labor Day, and fall is shaping up to be an opportune time to make up for lost travel experiences. Remote work and learning also make midweek and weeklong stays more feasible than in years past. 

Unfortunately, European destinations such as Spain, France and Germany are seeing cases spike again. A few destinations, such as Costa Rica, have announced new requirements for entry, from international health insurance to COVID-19 antibodies. Meanwhile, NYC is bringing COVID-19 tests to JFK and LaGuardia Airports to prevent inbound travelers from spreading the virus. There is still debate about whether travel is responsible during this time, with The New York Times reporting that some are intentionally discreet about their trips for fear of being judged by peers.
Below is a summary of trends and industry shifts that MMGY NJF has compiled from media feedback, widespread coverage and webinars:

Influencer Content
Most seemingly pandemic-related influencer trends are in fact pre-existing trends that have been accelerated. These trends include the move towards "unfiltered" and less-scripted content, the rise of TikTok and the popularity of "everyday" or niche influencers. During this period of rapid change and unusual market conditions, don't be afraid to experiment with influencer marketing tactics that haven't been tried before. 

More on influencer trends:

Crisis Response
While 2020 has been defined by a generational crisis in the COVID-19 pandemic, California tourism organizations should be prepared to respond to crisis year round, particularly with climate-driven wildfires becoming an annual event. As a best practice, update your crisis communication plans with current emergency contacts and a decision tree to guide your response.
Visit California is here to assist with messaging and community support. The organization has also activated its Crisis Evaluation Matrix, a framework for measuring the impact on the ground to tourism infrastructure, social and traditional media coverage globally, and consumer sentiment. The matrix helps the organization prioritize its response and combat sensationalized and misleading media narratives.

At Outlook Forum in February, Visit California gave partners an opportunity to hone their crisis response in a breakout session and two-hour workshop. In light of this extraordinary year, it’s worth reviewing four key takeaways:

Trending Pitches & Story Ideas
Visit California’s earned media team continues to pitch stories to keep California top of mind and respond to topical reactive leads. These pitches have generated high-profile coverage over the past month: 

Most viewed story ideas for August in the Visit California Media Center:

Evergreen story ideas on Instagrammable California destinations continue to perform strongly month after month. Additionally, in August the regional profiles landing page was the second most visited on the site after the homepage. This indicates media are using the Media Center to search for basics on California, such as understanding the state’s geography and regional highlights. Because each region’s page links out to individual DMO websites, these searches by media create the opportunity for partner handoffs.

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