Tips for Building a Successful Public Relations Program for Your Dive Business

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Many PADI® Dive Centers and Resorts have proven to be successful in proactively securing media coverage showcasing their dive business and local diving highlights to help drive divers (and soon-to-be divers) through their doors. In fact, more than one-third of all media coverage mentioning the PADI brand is generated from PADI Dive Centers. They achieved this through a combination of press releases, media pitches, interviews and diving with press. Dive centers that invest time in PR and media outreach have seen the benefits for their business firsthand.  You can as well.

Here are just a few tips to help you build a successful PR program for your dive business:

Share newsworthy announcements with press to raise awareness about your dive center or resort. Press releases create awareness about situations, services and products that appeal to a wide audience. The introduction of a new scuba program or a large-scale conservation effort your business is spearheading are situations that could generate publicity for your business through a press release. Make sure the information is newsworthy, fact-driven and of interest to the reader (i.e. editors, journalists). Crafting a well-written release (free of typos and grammatical errors) is essential to attracting the attention of press and ensuring effectiveness. You can also use media alerts to generate interest in an upcoming event, such as an underwater cleanup or a PADI Women’s Dive Day event. A media alert should be short, to the point and written so reporters know all the information about your event. In fact, you can (and should) literally write: what, when, where, who and why. By notifying press of your event, they can help you spread the word.

The Public Relations for Dive Businesses toolkit on the PADI Pros’ Site details additional tips and examples for writing and distributing press releases, media alerts and pitches.

Pitching unique and interesting story ideas to media can earn you coverage in targeted outlets. When people think of media relations, a press release is what immediately comes to mind. However, the reality is that the majority of earned coverage is generated from a media pitch – a short, personalized message to excite a journalist or editor with a story idea about your dive business. Most story ideas aren’t newsworthy enough to warrant a broad press release, but would be an interesting topic for editorial coverage in certain media outlets. Pitches should be timely, impactful, interesting, locally relevant and, most importantly, sent to press contacts who will see value in your story idea. Pitches should be tailored to specific journalists and/or media outlets, presenting a story idea that speaks to their typical audience demographic and which falls within their beat, a particular topic that a reporter covers.

Share your diving knowledge and expertise by fielding press inquiries and taking part in media interviews. Interactions with press don’t need to be intimidating if you’re prepared. After all, journalists are people too. Offering expert insight and timely responses to inquiries and interview requests will often lead to a better relationship between you and the media. But, as in all public relations, it is important to keep in mind that there is no guarantee that doing so will always give you the coverage you want. By adhering to PADI Standards, upholding top-rate business practices and preparing select people at your dive center to respond to press inquiries, you can help ensure that your business – and the local diving opportunities – are shown in the best light possible. The Public Relations for Dive Businesses toolkit on the PADI Pros’ Site offers some of the do’s and don’ts when interacting with media. If a journalist reaches out to you, give them firsthand insight by inviting them to go diving in preparation for a story. In order to accurately write about diving, most journalists will require firsthand knowledge of their story topic, whether it be about learning to dive, diving in a specific environment or traveling to a dive destination. Offering to take press and media diving for free is a great way for them to personally experience local dive sites, get to know your business and build a connection with you and your team. By making dives, rentals and courses free of charge for journalists preparing for a story, you are not only reducing the barrier for them to dive with you, you are also showing them that you value their work. If they’re not already a diver or want to learn new skills, offer them a course. There is no better way for them to get excited about diving and understand the content they are sharing with their audiences. Go above and beyond to give them an incredible experience. Doing so will increase the likelihood (but not always guarantee) that they will include a mention of your shop in their story. Press kits provide journalists with readily accessible information and images. Before you begin conducting any press outreach, it is beneficial to create a digital press kit to have on hand to give interested writers or producers the fundamental information they might need to tell your dive shop’s story. Your press kit should serve as a useful tool for journalists to find immediate answers to general questions about your business, as well as free-to-use high-resolution images. Create a press image collection with high-quality photos (that you own or have rights to share) of popular dive sites nearby, local marine life and your dive shop or boat. Check out the PADI Pros’ Sitefor examples and other information to help you curate content for your digital press kit. Developing relationships with influencers and bloggers can be a strategic approach to amplify your key messages. The rise of social influencers and bloggers has fundamentally changed how we reach today’s audiences. By working with social influencers and bloggers in a similar capacity to traditional journalists, you can help reach new audiences, promote positive branding, and increase customer engagement and awareness. It is important to note that, unlike traditional journalists who are often employed or contracted by a media outlet, most influencers are self-employed and rely on their influence to generate a living income. With this in mind, most social influencers and bloggers require monetary compensation to share a business’s information, no matter how natural they may seem.

The PADI organization’s marketing team is available to answer any questions you may have about starting or growing your PR program, and has a number of available resources to assist. Visit the PADI Pros’ Site for additional information about public relations for dive shops and how to leverage PADI programs and tools to support your PR efforts.

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Original author: PADI Worldwide

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