How to Meet the Press for Free Advertising…

By Joanie Ogg CTC MCC

When you start or announce something new and exciting for your travel agency, there are a number of ways to get the good news out there. One such means is a press release. A press release is simply a way to deliver maximum business news from home by using your local news media. My recommendations would be to focus on a local paper or publication and avoid the big guys like the LA Times, Chicago Tribune, etc. Creating a relationship with your local news media and continually communicating news will provide great results over time. You must be patient, however. Good things come to those that wait.

The first recommendation I have is to Meet the Press. Take a trip to the local paper in your area and introduce yourself to the staff and publisher if possible. Ask them if you can send them occasional press releases about travel industry trends and or/civic focused travel news. Better yet, ask them what they need? Can you be of any service to them by keeping them in the loop on travel industry trends and major news? They may even ask you to write a travel column as filler. Make that great first impression and you never know where it may take you.

The media needs news. While they may be a bit particular about what news they release, they are in the business of spreading the news. Because the publisher may receive many releases each month, your goal is to create a press release that has appeal to a wide and diverse audience. Your release must be something that will encourage readership and create a sense of good will. You are not writing political news, so the hype of breaking news be it good or bad is not going to be your focus. If you are working with a charity, school, hospital or some other civic-minded project, then you need to be using press releases as a way to get your company name out there. This will engage readers and create awareness of your business in the community.

Here are some basic do’s and don’ts when creating a press release.

  Put the most important information at the top of the text itself. This way the reader can  quickly see what the release will be about. An example might be “Local Travel Consultant Donates Cruise to Children’s Hospital Fundraiser”

Avoid too much hype, and make certain that the release does NOT sound like a sales pitch. That immediately puts your release in the “Advertising” file or worse, the round file.

Use words that make the reader enthusiastic about the release. News that is boring to read is not really newsworthy.

As a general rule, your release should be no more then two pages at the most. One page releases are always better.

It is essential to ensure your release contains contact information such as your name, email address, telephone number, fax number and /or website.

Proof, proof and proof again. A press release with spelling, grammar and/or typographical errors is unlikely to be considered worthy of publishing.

Have fun writing your releases. Use your passion to enlighten, engage and entertain the readers. Be sure to ask new clients where they heard about you. It might be surprising when you find that your local media releases are working well and best of all it is FREE ADVERTISING!

Joanie Ogg CTC MCC
Joanie Ogg Marketing Group


Joanie Ogg is a thirty-five year veteran of the travel industry and has been involved with the independent contractor evolution since 1988. She is the principal of Joanie Ogg Marketing Group, which specializes in consulting and speaking on the topic of Home-Based Travel. She also provides marketing and sales for wide variety of products under the umbrella HomeBasedTravelAgent.com.

A demonstrated industry leader, Joanie most recently served as the President of the National Association of Commissioned Travel Agents (NACTA) and TravelSellers. She and her husband Tom acquired NACTA in 1996 and sold it to The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) in 2000. Joanie’s tenure in the travel industry includes owning and operating one of the first successful host agency models. She has owned and operated several storefront travel agencies (both commercial and leisure), as well as a Hawaii wholesale tour company.

Her decades of success have garnered her numerous accolades over the years. Her accomplishments have been recognized by receipt of two Lifetime Achievement Awards from major trade groups, being named as one of the “100 Most Powerful Women in Travel” by Travel Agent magazine on several occasions, voted as “Travel Agent of the Year” by the readers of Travel Trade magazine, and has been recognized by many other industry organizations throughout her tenure in the industry. In 2008 Joanie Ogg was inducted into the CLIA Hall of Fame, an honor held by some of the most influential executives in the travel industry.

Joanie is a Master Cruise Counselor (MCC) and a Certified Travel Counselor (CTC). Joanie has co-authored two popular travel industry books for cruise specialists and home-based travel agents and has authored hundreds of travel trade articles. She has inspired tens of thousands of travel agents attending her presentations at trade events, cruise seminars, international trade gatherings and numerous local educational venues throughout the United States. With a time-honored background and forward-looking vision, she is often featured as a speaker at many of the travel industry’s major conferences and events. Joanie’s speaking talents are widely sought as a travel industry emcee by the most recognized travel organizations. She has emceed such events as Cruise-A-Thons, ASTA’s CruiseFest, The Trade Show, The Travel Institute Forum and all of NACTA’s National and International Conferences.