It’s no coincidence that certain home service providers are always tapped to be interviewed by the media when an issue relating to that industry becomes a topic in the news.
In fact, as a home service business owner, you may have wondered why your competitor is always being asked their opinion. The reason is very simple and will probably surprise you: their company has probably hired a public relations agency.
This free—or earned—media is priceless when it comes to building your company’s brand. And, it’s not something your company can earn with sheer marketing or advertising alone.
When it comes to boosting your reputation and name recognition, there are few tools in your marketing strategy more powerful than public relations. Simply put, PR helps you build relationships with the media in your industry, with your customers and with the potential clients you are trying to reach.
Here are some ways PR helps you boost your marketing efforts.
PR Develops your Brand Identity
For many consumers, there are some brands that they absolutely always buy no matter what. This could be because it’s the product they grew up with or because they experienced a positive outcome when they first started using the product. They’ve developed a trust and long-term relationship with that brand.
Public relations helps your company tell its story and develop its identity through a memorable presence in the media and online by consistently publishing press releases, blog content or social media posts that positively reflect your company’s brand. While marketing and advertising might be a sprint to the leader board, public relations is the slow-and-steady turtle that eventually wins the race.
The best stories about your home service company aren’t the overt messages about your company’s current promotions or your latest service offerings. The more compelling stories are the gems that explain why your company exists or how your services have helped customers in unique situations.
An effective PR agency knows how to help you root out those stories and presents them in compelling ways to your target audience.
PR Adds the Human Touch
For Peterman Brothers, a second-generation heating, cooling and plumbing services company in the greater Indianapolis area, the use of PR has helped them spread their message to a much broader audience than their marketing and advertising strategy could, alone.
“Of course, we wanted the greater Indianapolis area to know about our business, but it was also important to us for the community to know about the charity work we do outside of the HVAC repair and maintenance we perform,” said Chad Peterman, president of Peterman Brothers. “Ripley PR has helped us spotlight the people who do the work at Peterman and not just the services we provide. People relate to the human element.”
PR has helped Peterman center their Peterman Cares program and put the focus on their other charitable work in the community.
“PR is very important to the home service community,” Peterman said. “While your marketing strategy is important, PR helps you spread your message because it highlights your company culture more effectively than a coupon or a special you’re running. PR helps you build relationships with your community.”
PR is about building lasting and genuine relationships with people in your target audience that go beyond the sales message of a marketing campaign.
PR Drives Consumer Interest
In this digital age of the two-minute video or the 45-second lifespan of a Tweet, it’s sometimes hard to get the attention of your avatar customer.
One way to break through the constant maze of posts, Tweets and clicks is to create a PR strategy that presents compelling information to consumers. If you’ve ever stopped scrolling on social media long enough to read an article, you were probably presented with a captivating story that was interesting enough to stop for.
By offering homeowners useful tips to keep their plumbing working smoothly or presenting them with a story on how your team works to better the community, you pique their interest in your business.
And, if your home service company is new or you want to present it as an emerging brand, there’s no better way to drive consumer interest in your company and its services than cultivating a trust with both the media that cover your industry and the consumers who buy your services.
“If you have a good brand in place, public relations is a must,” said Levi Torres, co-owner of High 5 Plumbing, a family-owned plumbing company in the greater Denver area. “PR helps you get a lot of eyeballs on your brand very quickly. The more people you can get to see your brand and hear about your mission, the faster you can grow.”
Torres said that home service companies should take some time to become confident in their brand before they begin any outreach, but a PR agency can also help with brand development.
“With Ripley PR, we feel like we truly have a partner and there’s nothing better than having someone in your corner, working on your behalf to get the word out about your company, your mission and your brand,” Torres said. “PR helps you reach people you never would have reached using marketing or advertising alone.”
PR doesn’t help you sell your services, it helps you sell your story. And, this raises the awareness you need to drive consumer interest.
PR Helps Prep Your Exit Strategy
If you are considering retirement or simply believe it’s time to sell your home service company to a larger organization, nothing can help you plan a successful exit strategy like a good PR plan.
Many angel investors, capital investment firms and large HVAC or plumbing companies look at earned media to determine which companies have the most organic support. If your company has a positive message, a solid brand and demonstrates an understanding of the market, you are probably on the right track.
A consistent flow of press releases, blog posts and social media comments shows your company is active and has momentum. Businesses looking to acquire other companies see your company’s willingness to reach out to the public as a sign that your business is battle tested and knows its market.
Find the Right Partner
You have several options when it comes to conducting PR campaigns, including doing it yourself, hiring a full-time employee or engaging with a professional PR agency.
The do-it-yourself approach is the least effective because most home service company owners simply don’t have the time to devote to building relationships with the media and writing the content necessary to make an impact. Hiring a full-time employee is a better option, but you need to make sure that your hire understands PR. A marketing professional may be able to write content but they may not understand how the media works.
Hiring a professional PR agency is probably the best bang for your buck because they have the experience. But, you need to be cautious that you find the right partner who understands your industry and has a reputation for getting its clients positive media coverage.
No matter how you go about it, you need to be willing to take a chance on PR. If you don’t do something different with your outreach, you’ll never have a different outcome. And that outcome could mean the difference between staying small or growing to be the star in your market.
Heather Ripley is founder and CEO of Ripley PR, an elite, global public relations agency specializing in the skilled trades, B2B tech and franchising. Ripley PR is recognized as the top PR agency for the home service industry. Ripley is the author of NEXT LEVEL NOW: PR Secrets to Drive Explosive Growth for your Home Service Business, which is now available on all audiobook platforms. For additional information, visit www.ripleypr.com.