PR Interview with Jenevora Swann, MD of citruspr

Travel PR agency citruspr is currently cultivating a move into the US market. Jenevora Swann, MD, talks in more detail about this new project, plus the agency's recent appointment by Africa Odyssey and covering a 'row-mantic' wedding across the Atlantic.

About the agency

What areas of the travel industry do you promote? We have a lovely mix of clients, from an online car hire company and a London consumer travel event to exclusive safari camps in Tanzania and hotels in New York and the Maldives. citruspr recently launched into the US market. What inspired this move? Our client, The Selous Safari Company asked us to investigate options for getting them into the US media. We were more than happy to look in to this and while we suggested they could use a specialist travel PR agency in New York, they declined insisting we knew their product so well that another agency couldn’t compete with our knowledge and proven skills in obtaining extensive press coverage in the right media. Given that sort of accolade how could we refuse? It’s been a baptism by fire and a lot of research needed by the team in order to create a targeted database of top US press. I went to New York last month and carried out the first series of meetings, which were across two days and included Condé Nast Brides, Vogue and Elite Traveller. It’s early days but the results are looking good and, as a result, two other clients have also asked us to represent them in the US, so we are off State-side again next month. It’s incredibly exciting to be breaking into this market! How do you ensure your clients get the right coverage in the press? We meet regularly with travel editors and the main travel freelancers in London and Dublin. It’s our policy to know as much as possible about the publications we are pitching to; who the main writers are and their interests as well as travel passions. By being totally targeted with our personal database of contacts, we can achieve the highest possible results for all our clients. What do you look for in new recruits? A passion for travel, a sense of humour and an unflappable nature.

About clients

Tell us about your recent appointment by Africa Odyssey. What campaigns do you have planned? Africa Odyssey is the culmination of decades of travel knowledge and safari experience. The company began as Tanzania Odyssey in the mid-1990s, specialising wholly in Tanzania itineraries. Today, re-branding under the Africa Odyssey banner, it unites specialist interests and knowledge of Tanzania, Botswana, Zambia, Namibia, Kenya and Mozambique as well as extensions to the Indian Ocean islands of Mauritius and the Seychelles. The campaign for Africa Odyssey is driven by online PR. Their sister company Tanzania Odyssey has years of online links and very strong SEO ranking; Africa Odyssey is starting from scratch so a high level of trusted links are a must. They also want to raise the profile of the website as a really useful tool for journalists wanting to research Africa as the site is fully searchable and contains twenty years of reports, data, photos and videos. Africa Odyssey has also asked us to build up their profile in the US media too, which is hugely exciting.
In your opinion, what is the best coverage you’ve achieved for a client? Oh my, do I have to pick just one? I think the one that springs to mind for being so off-the-wall was hearing from Tropical Sky (a long-haul tour operator) that it had taken a booking for a wedding and honeymoon in Barbados where the groom advised he might be delayed as he was rowing across the Atlantic to get there! I love getting my hands on a news story like this! Our creative juices flipped into action and we put out a news story and photographs of the groom as he arrived in Barbados the day before the wedding (and yes, he was late in arriving!) By teaming up with the hotel’s photographer, we issued photos of the beach-side wedding and within hours achieved extensive coverage across many of the national newspapers and subsequently in Hello! Magazine. Tropical Sky was mentioned in each article and the team was thrilled to bits. It still offers a ‘Row-mantic Wedding Package’ in case anyone else wants to follow suit! What has been your biggest PR/communication challenge? Reacting to the recession has been our greatest company challenge – to retain our clients and all the staff was no mean feat. We used to specialise just in luxury travel, but due to the recession and the consumer trend for low-cost travel, we developed our client base to exploit this massive growth area over recent years. We still have many luxury travel clients but more recently we expanded into the budget travel market and consumer travel events and, I’m delighted to say, that business this year has been absolutely booming.

About you

How useful do you find social media? As a company, we have just caught up on all the latest SEO training and are about to launch ourselves head-on into social media As for me? I love Facebook but am keeping my head firmly in the sand on Twitter. It just sounds so time consuming – how on earth do people keep up? How did you get into PR? I had an amazing launch pad by starting out in the BBC Press Office, with a boss who was so keen to teach me as much as possible about PR. I dabbled in radio and TV PR for a while and then fell lovingly into travel PR 20 years ago (oops, now that makes me sound old!). A lot has changed in that time, but experience and high ethics counts for so much. Are you involved in any other projects? There’s not much time left at the end of the day to be honest… but from our location in Lymington on the south coast, I do enjoy getting out and about on a boat when the weather behaves itself! [lnk||_blank|citruspr] [img|jpg|Jenevora Swann, MD]

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