Thursday, February 13, 2014

Who is Lori Michimoto? Did only one qualified journalist attended Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau media event in New York?

Who is Lori Michimoto, and who is  Michimoto Communications in Kaneohe?
Her website domain listed on an invitation email on behalf of the the Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau (@MauiVisit is invalid.

A phone number for Michimoto Communication is not listed on any emails or websites. Directory assistance in Hawaii did not find a number listed under Michimoto Communication. This mystery PR company sent an email invitation on behalf of MVCB to invite journalists to a New York media event. It  did not include an email address under a valid domain.  No connection to the Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau was included.

Lori however shows an impressive profile on her Linkedin.
According to her public profile, she was Vice President, Travel & Tourism for  McNeil Wilson Communications from January 1999 – February 2006. She lists Hawaiian Airlines, the Kauai Visitors Bureau among her clients.

New Yorkers are very sophisticated. With dozens of similar events in New York every day, journalists would verify invitations. No phone contact, invalid domains and no contact for MVCB, no email address under the MVCB domain name may explain journalists in the Big Apple did not take the well meant invitation serious. Maui after all had been voted as the most beautiful island in the world- and one expects much.

This may explain the low attendance of the Maui Media Marketplace at the Westin Hotel New York at Times Square today.

Airports in New York cancelled hundreds of flights today due to the weather. Of course this did not help, but according to Manhattan based eTN editor Dr. Elinor Garely, streets were open and public transportation was working fine all day.

Only 6 guests showed up at the Westin hotel this morning to attend the Maui journalist event. According to a reliable source only one out of the 6 that attended should have been qualified as a journalist. One person was a PR agent and she took her daughter along. It remains unclear what qualification one of the six participants had to win an all expenses paid trip to Maui.

Lori Michimoto in her invitation email to journalists in New york promised:
Be ready for some fun exchange with the Maui partners listed below. And don’t forget your business card for the trip drawing to Maui!

Maui went all out and brought 9 senior executives to New York.
Michimoto said in her invitation:
You will be meeting:
·         Mr. Keli’i Brown, director of public relations, Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau
·         Julie Bicoy, director, Destination Moloka’i Visitors Bureau
·         Shelley Kekuna, executive director, Ka’anapali Beach Resort Association
·         Kathleen Costello, director of marketing/communications, Wailea Resort Association
·         Candy Aluli, public relations, Napili Kai Beach Resort
·         Sumithra Balraj, director of public relations, The Westin Maui Resort & Spa / Kaanapali Ocean Resort Villas
·         Megan Haertling, director of public relations, The Fairmont Kea Lani Maui
·         Steven Holt, market director, The Ritz-Carlton Kapalua
·         Xorin Balbes, owner, Lumeria Maui

It remains unclear how many journalists were invited, and how many did not make an attempt to go to the event with no phone number or valid domain listed for a response, specially under today's circumstances. Most press events in New York attract between 100-200 journalists.

eTN reached out to Terryl Vencl, Executive Director of the Maui Visitors and Convention Bureau.

Here is her response: 

Media Blitz Purpose
With myriad destinations worldwide seeking media attention, it is essential MVCB continues to meet face-to-face and maintain top-of-mind awareness. New York City is the media/publishing capital of the U.S. and critical to Maui Nui's success as a world-class visitor destination.

We targeted print and broadcast journalists (staff and freelance), as well as social media travel influencers (SMTI’s).  Media were qualified as being open to covering our islands as well as those who have been published in key outlets within the past year, and/or hosting an active blog or a significant presence with other social media outlets. Print circulation, website traffic and social media analytics were all considered and provided to our traveling partners.

Our media blitzes provide MVCB and our Maui Nui partners opportunities to get reacquainted with media and meet new media. Our objective is to present consistent messages including "What’s New?" or "in development" across our islands. This holds true for all of MVCB’s destination partners (those who attend our blitz, and equally, those who do not).

MVCB's New York City Media Blitz blitz began on Monday. Over the last four days, we conducted desk-side meetings with editors and "on staff" media with various publications. Today, we hosted two "media marketplaces" where we invited journalists to join us at our hotel. These individuals are primarily those who we don't have the opportunity to meet via desk-side appointments as they do not have "offices."   

Maui Nui Partners and Media Marketplace Attendees
There were three (3) MVCB employees (Lori assists Kelii our PR Director on Media Blitzes) and seven (7) Maui industry partners who participated in our media blitz this week. The Maui industry partners pay their own expenses to NYC, indication of how valuable they think this program is. While we typically target approximately 12 journalists for each media marketplace, today's terrible storm clearly affected attendance. Once we realized awful weather would "hit" today, we had two choices -- cancel or Imua! The entire team decided to "charge forward" and proceed since we were already there this was our best and quite frankly, only option. 

MVCB will follow-up with all media we met and will work with individuals to develop Maui Nui story angles and editorial placements. Below are the most recognizable outlets we met with. There was a solid mix of "staff" and "freelance" journalists representing niches including general travel, family, romance, health and wellness, spa, cuisine, the LGBT market, and more.

- The Advocate
- Afar
- American Way
- The Atlantic
- Bridal Guide
- Brides
- Conde Nast Travel
- Ebony
- Endless Vacation
- Family Circle
- Fitness
- Fodor's Travel
- Food & Wine
- Hemispheres
- Hotel Scoop
- Huffington Post
- Islands
- Manhattan Bride
- Martha Stewart Weddings
- Men's Journal
- The New York Times
- Organic Spa
- Out and Out Traveler 
- Outside
- Parents
- Redbook
- Sherman's Travel Media
- Smithsonian
- The Knot
- Travel + Leisure
- Travel Agent
- Vogue
- The Wall Street Journal
- Weight Watcher's magazine
- Yahoo

Media Visits
Finally, we will pinpoint various journalists for visits to Maui Nui. The individuals we invite/bring to Maui Nui under our Press Trip or our Individual Media Visit programs are those we further “qualify” and believe provide the best “return on investment” for our islands. 

Additionally, I am not sure why you were not able to find Lori's contact information as the invitation had her current information as the contact person for the RSVP. 

I hope the above helps you understand our media blitz efforts as well as the challenges we faced today due to the weather. We truly appreciate and take seriously the integral role we play as a leader in Maui Nui's visitor industry.

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