Ohio provides plenty of economic opportunities for tourism businesses that bring innovative products and services to the marketplace. The tourism industry in Ohio includes numerous industry segments that range greatly in diversity and size including lodging, transportation, restaurants, destinations, attractions, events and retail shopping.
For a successful tourism business in Ohio, link to the state's leading organizations, such as:
- Ohio Tourism Division
- Ohio Association of Convention and Visitor Bureaus
- Ohio Hotel & Lodging Association
- Ohio Travel Association
- Additional organizations are included throughout the Ohio Tourism Toolbox.
Need Assistance to Create or Develop Your Tourism Business?
This Ohio Department of Development web site provides links useful for selecting a business location, filing, keeping compliant and labor research. Particularly helpful is the linkage to 1st Stop Business Connection.
The Ohio Business Development Coalition manages this web site that talks about doing business in Ohio.
With more than 120 highly trained Certified Business Advisors® throughout the state, the Ohio Small Business Development Center (SBDC) Network provides free, confidential, in-depth business consulting in areas such as business management, government regulations, and financing.
Business Incentives to Help you Locate Your Next Expansion in Ohio (pdf)
Created by the Ohio Department Developmental Services Agency (ODSA), this fact sheet provides a quick look at the assistance available in Ohio for starting or expanding a business.
ODSA Minority Business Enterprise Division
Connect with the many resources available through the Ohio Tourism Division, such as:
- Check out the Tourism Division Partnership Opportunities
- Submit information for the Buckeye Database
Management - Need Business Planning & Management Resources?
- U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA)
- Business Plan Templates from SCORE
- Business Plan Pro (includes tools and sample business plans - adventure travel, lodging, restaurant, retail, and more)
- My Own Business
Marketing - Need to Get in Touch with the Media and Other Marketing Resources?
- Public Relations 101
What is Public Relations?
Public Relations is the management function that establishes and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and the public on whom its success or failure depends.
Areas of Public Relations include: Media Relations, Public Affairs, Issues Management, Lobbying, Development/Fundraising, Employee Communications, Corporate Identity, Corporate Philanthropy, Consumer Relations, Community Relations, and Investor Relations.
There are several proven ways to get your story out.
Some of these include writing a press release (also known as a media release or news release), writing media advisories, pitching feature stories, maintaining an online press room, offering press kits, holding press conferences, hosting press trips and taking advantage of the Ohio Tourism Division’s Media Leads and the Ohio Tourism Division’s Media Missions.
Writing Press Releases
Press releases are a great way for you to alert the media that you have something new and/or exciting to tell them. Below is a brief overview on how to utilize press releases:
- Stick to one message per release.
- Keep press releases short. The media want clear, concise information that is easy to read.
Keep the structure of your release consistent. The following format is standard:
- Company logo, top left-hand corner
- Below logo, include “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE” on left-hand side
- Include “CONTACT: Name of Contact and contact information” on the same line on the right-hand side
- Below this information, include the title of the release
- Include the dateline (this tells where the information in the release is coming from) and the date the release is being sent out
- Body of release
- If your press release goes on to two pages, include --more-- on the bottom center of the page. This will alert the media that there is more information in your release.
- Boilerplate (this is the “About” information—tell the media who you are, the history of your organization, etc.)
- End release with ### or -30- (this is the standard in press release writing)
Writing Media Advisories
Media Advisories are a tool for you to alert the media about an event such as a press conference or unveiling of value to them as potential article content. Below is a brief overview on how to utilize media advisories:
- Business logo at top (can be centered or left-hand side)
- "MEDIA ADVISORY" to alert the media
- Contact information
- Event announcement (this will include other details for the event, background information, etc.)
- Boilerplate (this is the “About” information—tell the media who you are, the history of your organization, etc.
- End media advisory with either ### or -30-
Pitching Feature Stories
One of the things the tourism industry thrives on is media feature stories that highlight a destination or tourism attraction. These give readers fun and informative information on a particular destination or attraction. These stories can be featured in the same town or city as the destination or can be highlighted by a national news organization. Either way, the destination is getting important exposure. Below are some tips for pitching feature stories:
- Talk to the media about well-rounded story ideas. Keep in mind that the article is going to appeal to a general audience on most occasions;
- Write the story. Make sure you are writing clearly and concisely. Check, double check and triple check your story to make sure all spelling and grammar are correct;
- Provide previously published stories. This is a great way to show the media other information they may be interested in.
Maintaining and Online Press Room
The online press room is the area of your Web site that is dedicated to providing information to members of the media. If you don’t have a press room with easy-to-find contact information, then you’re missing opportunities. Your online press room is a source of constant information, 24-hours a day, and seven days a week. Below are several tips for maintaining a press room:
- Dedicate an area of your Web site to an online press room
- Make sure your press room is easy to find on the homepage
- Include the same information that is in your press kit
- Keep both a current and archive list of press releases
- Vital: Public relations (or other) staff contact information including titles and e-mail addresses and/or phone numbers
- More vital: Keep information current
- Note: In the fast-paced world of instant media, the press room is a good place to have a section that can be utilized on a moment’s notice for crisis communications. Say, someone visits your attraction and becomes ill, and this is followed by several additional reports of illness. This section will provide a great way for you to supply the most accurate, up-to-date information possible regarding the situation (What happened? What is being done to remedy the issue? Whom should people contact if they visited your attraction and they feel ill?) to media and consumers.
Offering Press Kits
You need a press (or media) kit to tell your story and respond quickly to request for information by the media. Below are several basic pieces (feel free to add more!) that should be in your press kit:
- Fact sheet with basic information;
- Story ideas;
- News releases that can be used any time of year and are always relevant;
- A calendar of events, if applicable;
- Contact information (business card);
- Photos (available online, USB drive or CD): Using photos of people enjoying their experience is crucial. Avoid shots of people who aren’t smiling or appear to be blinking when the photo was taken. Keep images up to date. Be sure you have the legal aspects covered (photocopy rights, etc.) Finally, don’t expect for anything to be returned;
- Make sure to have both a digital (on CD) and print version available.
Holding a Press Conference
Press conferences are used for large announcements, typically during crisis communication or to announce something significant. Do not overdo using press conferences (no more than three per year is typical). Because this is an event where a variety of media will be attending, it is important to keep in mind that members of the media all receive the same story. It is important to make time for a Q&A session—this allows for the media to clarify any questions they have or to follow-up on something you mentioned. If possible, provide time for individual media interviews.
Hosting Press Trips
Hosting a press trip is a great way for media to become better acquainted with area, regional or national (sometimes even international!) media and gives members of the media a more personalized feel for what you have to offer. It is an important tool to building an important relationship. Below is some basic information in hosting a press trip:
- Invite the media to experience what you have to offer first hand;
- Provide complimentary or reduced rates;
- Partner with the Ohio Tourism Division and/or other local travel entities;
- Come prepared to answer any and all questions;
- Make sure you are maintaining a friendly, upbeat and approachable appearance.
Taking Advantage of Media Leads
Media leads are a tool used by the Ohio Tourism Division to alert the tourism industry that a member of the media is looking for information that they may be able to provide. Media leads are also used to communicate important information with the tourism industry on anything media-related. To stay better connected and have the opportunity to pitch ideas to the media, sign up for media leads by visiting Industry.DiscoverOhio.com.
Taking Advantage of Media Missions
Each year, the Division's public relations office organizes opportunities for the Ohio tourism industry to meet one-on-one with media in various national and regional media markets. The format for these missions varies from desk-side meetings to receptions, depending on the individual market. This is a great way for industry partners to pitch their story to the media.
Other Important Tips in Working with the Media
When working with the media, be ready to talk and more importantly, be available. As a professional, it is vital to gain control and confidence with the media. Know your message! Be simple (not simplistic), credible and honest—you want to build a healthy, working relationship with the media so they come to you as the source of information.
Provide 24-hour contact information. Know what their deadlines are and meet them. This could be the difference between a story being published on your area/destination and not. Never say, “No comment” and never make up an answer.
Sample Marketing Plans (travel agency, bed & breakfast, event planning, food service, and more)
Social Media How-To Guides:
- Discover Your Social Web: An Ohio Farm Bureau Guide to Social Media
- Mashable Social Media Guide to Twitter
Money - Need Financing?
Ohio Business Incentives Loans and Bonds: The Ohio Department of Development offers this inventory of loans and bonds, as well as links to tax incentives and other incentive programs.
Ohio Business Incentives Reduce Your Risk: Ohio Business Development Coalition has created this list of tax incentives, grants and financing assistance.
Small Business Financing Programs in Ohio, an OSU Extension Fact Sheet