Q&A With Account Director Jerry Grymek
Destination Marketing Organizations, often referred to as DMOs, are charged with marketing a destination. Part of any well-rounded destination-marketing program involves media outreach. Today, media outreach includes both online and print coverage. DMOs work with journalists and travel writers to create sponsored trips focused on showcasing what the destination has to offer.
As a travel writer, if you are interested in working with a DMO or destination, it’s critical to understand what they do to promote a destination.
A few weeks ago I jumped at the chance to interview Jerry Grymek at LMA Communications.
He gave me an inside look at how agencies like his work with travel writers and their clients to promote destinations.
Over Twenty years ago, after a career with Procter and Gamble, Larry Mogelonsky founded (and is president) LMA Communications Inc. It’s a full service boutique-agency that focuses on the hospitality and travel industries. LMA has become a go-to-agency for destination and tourism brands.
Today the agency works with travel accounts as well as not-for-profits, and a wide range of other businesses. As a full service agency, LMA clients have come to appreciate the one stop shopping for all their marketing needs; including web design, events, media outreach and ad buys.
Having met Jerry Grymek, LMA’s Account Director, at various travel related events in Toronto, he kindly offered to answer a few questions about the agency world.
Q: Jerry, tell me a bit about your background, education, and how you landed at LMA Communications?
JG: I started my post secondary education at George Brown College in Toronto where I earned a Marketing diploma. Then on to Humber College for my Public Relations (PR) Certification. Humber has one of the best PR programs in Toronto.
Looking to round out my education, I decided to enrol in the Institute of Communication Agencies (ICA) for courses. Not-for-profit ICA provides you with a “mini MBA” in communications and advertising. Attending courses on weeknights and over weekends we learned a considerable amount about the advertising business, plus how to find the “sweetspot” in advertising campaigns.
Graduating with honours and CAAP designation, my colleagues awarded me the “Great Future Leader Award”.
Q: When did you join LMA?
JG: I joined LMA about 14 years ago just before taking the ICA program. In fact LMA is in the same building as the ICA association.
Q: Tell us about the services LMA provides its clients?
JG: We are actively working on a number of different campaigns at any given time.
Depending on the needs of the client’s projects, we do anything from advertising buys, web design and implementation, social media planning and management, to public relations (events, media outreach etc). Our goal is to build our clients brand using a variety of marketing strategies.
Over the past 14 years, I’ve watched the agency continue to grow by adding different clients from different sectors. We’ve promoted Estates of Sunnybrook, consumer goods like Beefeaters (dog food) as well as New York’s Hotel Pennsylvania.
Q: What is your mandate for each client?
JG: Every client’s mandate is different. For example, LMA represents Visit Florida in Canada. Our mandate changes depending on which aspect of the state we’re promoting. In general terms, Canadian promotion includes planning events, getting awareness in a broad spectrum of outlets (bloggers, print, radio interviews, television etc). When the Visit Florida Canadian representative, Lucy Spann, visited Toronto we organized industry events and one-on-one desk sides interviews. Florida is a very important travel destination for Canadians, especially in Ontario and Montreal. We wanted to maximize the time Spann had available during her visit.
We also represent the Florida Keys and Key West. We are working on getting the word out about how unique and diverse the Keys are. It’s differs greatly from the rest of Florida. It has the ambiance of the Caribbean with the comforts of home.
In November 2014, we did a campaign where we wanted to drum up awareness of the Florida Keys, and knowing the best way to get to people’s mind is through their stomachs, we hired a food truck decorated with the Florida Keys colors and murals of Key Lime Pie. We handed out samples of Key Lime Pie in downtown Toronto and Hamilton. In Toronto, we partnered with a charity, Second Harvest, secured a television spot on a number of local stations including “CHCH” and made a Key Lime Pie on air with the hosts. It was a huge success.
Another example of how we think “outside of the box” for promotion is the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York. We are the agency of record for this hotel.
It’s the fourth largest hotel in New York and has been around since 1918, located right across from Penn Station and Madison Square Garden. Every February the “Westminster Kennel Club’s Dog Show”, takes place in Madison Square Garden and many of the attendees stay at Hotel Pennsylvania.
We implemented a number of customized services for these guests and their pets: doggie Spa, doggie fashion accessories and welcome kits. We now have six to seven hundred dogs staying at the hotel during the show.
The news media love covering the “Westminster Kennel Club Show”, as result, at one of the shows I was featured as the “Doggie Concierge” in the New York Times. During this period I like to say I’m in “pooch relations and barketing”.
Q: Many travel bloggers say it’s difficult to connect with PR people representing Travel brands. What advice do you have for these individuals?
JG: My first piece of advice is that you should build a relationship with the destination-marketing people. Pick up the phone and make a call or send an introductory email.
Of course getting yourself into the database of large marketing firms like ours is important. It’s all about building and maintaining a relationship so you are top of mind when opportunities arise.
We always appreciate professionally created media kits that cover important community or network statistics, awards received and past work successes.
For additional tips about pitching read “The art of Pitching CVB’s, DMO’s and Tourism Boards“.