Fisher Island: Is it really as bad as one report claims?

I wake up Sunday mornings to the New York Times, gravitating to the hotelier’s favorite — the Sunday Travel section. This past week, the cover page’s lead article focused on Fisher Island Hotel & Resort just off of Miami’s South Beach. It was hard to miss the article, as the reporter was traveling with her daughter for the Mother’s Day edition.

With almost three full pages of negative salvos launched at this ultra-luxury slice of Floridian paradise, I can just imagine any hoteliers reading the Sunday paper were saying to themselves, “Thank goodness it wasn’t me!”

Think of the PR value of this damaging appraisal. Public relations management tools generally calculate the value of any reporting to be about two to four times the cost of the equivalent space in advertising. Taking the higher end of this ratio given the newspaper’s prominence, devoted cover space and eye-catching photography, the value of this editorial is easily in the range of half a million dollars.

But is negatively tainted press like this a problem for the resort? Is there value in having the 1.7 million Sunday New York Times readers made aware of Fisher Island Hotel & Resort, even when presented in such a potentially tarnishing light?

It’s not as bad as you’d think. After all, any press is good press. Right? Is this old saying always true?

It depends on the context of the reporting, of course. The article’s photos were outstanding and inviting; the photo captions innocuous; and not all of the missives were absolute zingers. Someone skimming the paper may have actually come away with a positive feeling from the report, failing to dig deep enough to learn of the writer’s anguishes during her stay.

My sense is that the reporter was almost laughing as her visit to the resort neared its final day. The prose had an air of wit and incredulity about it. I don’t know if the reporter was on assignment, or traveling on her own and likely unannounced. If the former, then a good lesson can be learned on how to properly manage media and VIPs. If the latter, then this is a damn good read … unless you work at Fisher Island Hotel & Resort.