How Bloggers Can Work With Tourism Boards

Pittsburgh by the River

I had the pleasure to take part of the last day of a tour of Pittsburgh, put on by Visit Pittsburgh. I missed the first few days, which brought the rest of the tour group to see even more of the city, but I had the opportunity to visit a historical museum, a few local attractions, and a Lucky Duck amphibious vehicle tour of the city by land and by water. The experience was great, and because Kristin Mitchell and team at Visit Pittsburgh found some swell bloggers to talk about their experiences in Pittsburgh, they’ll no doubt get some nice write-ups.

The process got me thinking, however. I asked a few people tonight what they’d want a blogger to know about their city. Norm Huelsman had two versions of what he wanted to talk about: the more likely nostalgic tour, but then he also mentioned it would be interesting to talk about how Pittsburgh is really broken into hyperlocal experiences, like the various neighborhoods within. John Carman had a few ideas of his own, too. After talking and thinking a bit, here’s my initial thoughts. I want yours.

How Bloggers Can Work With Tourism Boards

If a city needs a louder voice, bloggers can act in that capacity, but the question becomes, what message does a city want to amplify? And how could we help? I think it’s easy to think the answer is to write a great blog post that tells people to come to Pittsburgh (or wherever). That’s bloggers acting like PR or that weird syrup of PR meets media that we often find ourselves being.

How about we do something more powerful, more meaningful? What if we helped cities express themselves and share their voice? My first thought was to ask the people of Pittsburgh what they want to share with the world. That’s one way to think about it. My next thought was to give them the tools, show them how, and get the most authentic voice.

My last thought was that it’s a combination. We’ll all tell the story in different ways. What I saw that caught my eye wasn’t part of the tour at all. The tour was great, but I found a story a few hours after the meeting.

My voice as a visitor with a whole different kind of readership might tell you about the story of innovation and technology investment I noticed while talking with Jim Jen, Meredith Benedict, and Mike Woycheck of AlphaLab, a startup incubator helping seed companies find their footing and launch out into the world.

My post about tourism bureaus and bloggers sparked lots of ideas, and it’s been on my mind since. Some people might show me the culture. Others might want to see the food, and that’s not wrong. Grace Piper would be a great person to share the food stories of a city. But what else needs to be said?

Of course, as always, I’m here to ask you. How do you think bloggers should interact with explaining travel and tourism?

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