On November 18, University of Hawaii’s Public Relations Student Society of America Manoa Chapter hosted a panel of PR professionals from the travel and tourism industry. Nancy Daniels, of Outrigger Enterprises Group, Melissa Malahoff-Kamei of McNeil Wilson Communications, and Rebecca Pang of Stryker Weiner & Yokota spoke to students about their experiences working in public relations within the travel and tourism industry.
Nancy Daniels, APR, talked about in-house public relations. Daniels is the Corporate PR Director for Outrigger Enterprises. She is in charge of executive positioning and brand management. Daniels mentioned that as a PR director, she must have a crisis communications plan ready in case someone is arrested, dies, or there is a fire at one of the properties. Besides hotels, Outrigger also has a retail component, which consists of leased stores and restaurants. Working in an internal agency, Daniels likes to picture everyone within the enterprise as clients and help them with their PR needs. Since the PR department only consists of Daniels and her assistant, they work with different agencies for assistance. Working in-house, in the travel and tourism industry requires the ability to turn corners very quickly and attend back to back meetings. When asked about her job, Daniels said, “It can be stressful, but it’s fun.”
Rebecca Pang of Stryker Weiner & Yokota, focused on Destination PR. Being involved with the Oahu Visitors Bureau and Destinaton PR, Pang needs to know about the special quirks about a hotel or group of people in Oahu. Pang needs to brand Oahu as an island that is special and like no other. She is required to set individual media visits and assist the media, coordinate press trips called, “destination day,” fly to other cities, and run a new bureau, which she is to respond to within 24 hours. When asked about what she likes about her job, Pang replied, “The job is never the same. Everything is different. Agency PR allows you to try something new, different.”
Melissa Malahoff-Kamei from McNeil Wilson Communications talked about Royal Hawaiian Shopping Center, the Hawaii Visitors Bureau, and PR in general. Malahoff-Kamei always considers target audiences. You need to consider the economy, what’s going on, and how situations change. In corporate PR, you have to be aware of everything, even if you’re not interested. You also need to get a creative angle to get people to convey what you’re talking about. Malahoff-Kamei advised students that once a news release is drafted, they should have a supervisor, someone in an even higher position, and the client look at it before making revisions.
The panel ended by leaving the floor open for questions. The panel were asked how they were being affected by the current economic crisis, to which they replied, “Budgets are cut, but more is expected (of them).” They also advised students to research and know the clients they will be working with. They mentioned PR not being the typical 9-5 job, but it’s fun. “If you like working with various people, you’ll never get bored.”