Skift Take

Reporters are bombarded with often useless press releases. What works? A pitch from a public relations representative whom you know isn't a spin doctor and actually wants to convey some real, concrete, needle-moving NEWS.

Kevin Shinkle, chief communications officer at Delta Air Lines, and Nancy J. Friedman, founder and President of Nancy J. Friedman Public Relations, spoke at the Skift Global Forum in Brooklyn, New York on October 15.

Shinkle is responsible for internal and external communications, including media relations, for Delta Air Lines globally. Friedman is public relations counsel to some of the most innovative leaders in hospitality and is a force behind Hotel Week NYC and Hotel Week LA.


Shingle and Friedman addressed the topic, “The Changed Nature of Travel Public Relations and Communications in a Digital-First World.” Here are six things we learned:

  • Friedman says public relations’ fundamentals, including consumers’ more limited attention spans, the rise of Twitter as a news source, the diminishing impact of press releases and declining numbers of journalists, have radically changed but the basics such as public relations representatives needing to forge relationships with reporters for effective coverage, remain consistent.
  • Crafted pitches can be more effective than press releases, Friedman says, although companies might still want to issue press releases for major announcements.
  • When conducting job interviews, Friedman used to test candidates on which day The New York Times food section was published or whether they knew what the New York Post’s Page Six was, but today she tests potential employees on strategic thinking such as how would they handle a particular story.
  • Shinkle says Delta CEO Richard Anderson told him one reason Anderson wanted to hire Shinkle, formerly the Associated Press’s business editor, is because Delta’s story-telling needed to get better. Shinkle said Delta’s evolution, from bankruptcy in 2005 to $2.2 billion in pre-tax profit in the third quarter of 2015, is one of the greatest turnaround stories in corporate history.
  • Shinkle says Delta wants journalists to “steal” content, including press releases, stories and videos, from the new Delta News Hub and some journalists do.
  • Shinkle says CEO Richard Anderson doesn’t need to be on twitter because Delta has a vibrant social media team. Friedman and Shinkle agreed that Twitter requires authentic voices and not every CEO should tweet.

Keep track of all the activity at this year’s Global Forum by bookmarking our #skiftforum tag.


And thanks to all the sponsors that made Skift Global Forum 2015 possible: Adobe, Amadeus, American Express, Boxever, Big Bus Tours, CendyneOne, Cheapoair, Criteo, Gogo, HelloGbye, Hornblower Cruises, MasterCard, Mindtree, National Geographic, NewsCred, Sabre, SiteMinder, Travel Channel, TurkeyHome, Uber, Underline, Virtuoso, and Yahoo.

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Tags: delta air lines, public relations, sgf2015, skift global forum

Photo credit: Nancy J. Friedman and Kevin Shinkle (right) of Delta Air Lines discuss the changing nature of travel public relations at the Skift Global Forum in Brooklyn on October 15. Skift

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