How A Local Business Used Twitter To Actually Get A Reviewer's Attention

Are you using Twitter for blogger outreach? Well, here's a case study on how to do it right. I received a fantastic Twitter pitch.

We all hear endlessly about the potential of Twitter for developing and growing relationships, especially for marketing and PR professionals. Much discussion remains mired in theory, and the occasions in which case studies dig into the facts often focus on big initiatives involving community development and management, amassing large followings and communicating to large groups of people. It isn’t often we hear about the micro cases, the situations where two people connect and success follows. Well, this is exactly what you’re about to read.

As a travel blogger for some pretty large outlets, I understand why travel and hospitality marketing professionals want to reach me. The coverage and the link back are gold when you’re trying to promote a business. I’m reminded of this every time I receive a press release, pitch or DM carefully crafted (or not) to get my attention and convince me to write. Sometimes, this does work – I must be one of the few bloggers left who will admit to liking press releases for some types of pitch. When you broaden your horizons into social media marketing, however, you really do need to focus on building a relationship and trying some things that might not be in your regular bag of tricks.

By doing this, the Colonnade Hotel in Boston wound up on my radar. This is perhaps the most interesting, subtle and effective use of Twitter I have seen in opening a dialogue with a relevant blogger.

I took a trip up to Boston back in March and lined up a room at the Copley Square Hotel (a great property, and I did enjoy my stay). As usual before a trip, I tweeted my plans, which included picking up a slice of pizza at Papa Gino’s, a distinctly local chain. Some of my followers in Boston picked up on this, and we chatted away in no more than 140 characters at a time about Papa Gino’s, and then about Boston more broadly.

@Colonnade follows some people who follow me, noticed the chatter and reached out to me.

This, of course, is Twitter 101. It involves leveraging your network, monitoring your timeline and identifying the people you follow who communicate with people you want to follow. It’s great theory, but in practice, it doesn’t seem to happen often enough. The focus tends to be on broader relationship-building for unidentified future use.

In this case, @Colonnade paid attention to the details. Christopher Lynn, Director of Sales and Marketing at the hotel, read back into my tweet stream, noticed that I was a travel blogger and saw that I’d be in his neck of the woods in a few days. Since my travel plans were already set, he offered to meet me for a cigar (clearly he did his research, as I also blog about them, too).

Through Twitter alone, he arranged a face-to-face meeting with a travel writer, with less effort than most marketing and PR pros use to get a desk appointment.

When we got together at Cigar Masters up in Boston, I braced myself for a pitch … that never came. Sure, we talked about the Colonnade, but only in broad strokes or about interesting details (details that really don’t fall into how I cover travel). We spent more time discussing Boston, social media and hotel marketing – not to mention reminiscing over the hotel CRM software that I used to implement in my first job out of the army.

We each flicked our final ashes and went on about our respective business in Boston. When I got back to New York, we stayed in touch, via Twitter. Rather than use DMs, most of our communication was public – again, a smart approach for a savvy hospitality marketer. My followers and his would see elements of the dialogue, which would help us build our respective followings.

It also caused me to notice subtle tweets that I would have missed otherwise, including the hotel’s daily “wakeup call” tweet, a fun concept that I grew to enjoy. Now, I retweet it (when I’m up and aware that early), which provides the hotel with additional exposure that emphasizes a fun, entertaining brand that isn’t pushy. This clever daily ritual has also come up in conversations I’ve had with other travel bloggers, which translates to word-of-mouth marketing in a high-value community for the hotel.

It was the initial interaction via Twitter that led to my meeting with Chris – followed by our subsequent interaction – that made me comfortable with his offer. Further, he made it clear that there was no expectation of coverage at all, a rarity in the travel writing space.

So, would you call this a Twitter-based PR success? The Colonnade did get greater exposure on Twitter, and I’m now watching the property more carefully. Having stayed there, I understand the place better, too. The odds that it will show up in any stories I write about Boston have certainly increased. The property has thus received both near-term benefits and long-term potential.

This approach to social media marketing is not easy, and it is time-intensive. It should be reserved only for high-value opportunities where the returns are commensurate with the effort. Put together your target list carefully, and be prepared for some of your efforts to go nowhere, even after you’ve invested a considerable amount of time in them. It’s high-risk, but the returns can be substantial.

Disclosure: I received two free nights at the Colonnade with no expectation of coverage. I have nothing specific planned, and obviously will not write about my stay for any outlets that have policies against accepting free stays. Of course, if I do decide to write about the Colonnade for an appropriate outlet, I will disclose the comp in accordance with FTC standards. I’d been thinking about writing this post for months (even before my stay) and just finally got around to doing it – blame my workload for that.