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Volunteers working at a community food bank.

Spinning Community Involvement Into PR Gold

May 20, 2024
Supporting the needs of your neighbors allows you to make the personal connections that strengthen your role in the community.

While spinning straw into gold is unfortunately only possible in a child’s fairy tale, the ability to take something we use for one thing and repurpose it into something beneficial elsewhere is a talent that few have.

But that’s exactly what an effective public relations strategy can do for your home service company’s community involvement.

Studies have shown that younger generations expect that the companies they do business with give back to their community. They want to know that the companies they patronize have a purpose beyond simple capitalism.

And, while many companies have seen the writing on the wall and have started promoting their corporate giving to entice customers, that really shouldn’t be why you choose to give back. And, if that’s all you’re doing, consumers will figure it out and take their business elsewhere.

Hopefully, you are already donating time, money or services to a local charity or nonprofit that you truly care about. You have a vested interest in your service area, and supporting the needs of your neighbors allows you to make the personal connections that strengthen your role in the community.

So, how do you let consumers know about your service without being self-serving?

Be Genuine

Consumers are smart. As mentioned above, they know when you’re simply fundraising for a charity to get good press coverage. You don’t want a black mark in your community.

That’s why you need to consider supporting nonprofit organizations that you are passionate about. Or you could involve your employees in choosing a project they will be passionate about. If your staff enthusiastically support your cause by posting on their personal social media channels or are seen in the community donating time, potential customers will take notice.

You can also evaluate the real needs in your community and choose a charitable organization that addresses those needs. If homelessness is the biggest problem, align yourself with a group that offers help to the unhoused. Or, perhaps stray animals are in abundance in your town. If so, working with humane groups to find homes for these animals while providing for spay and neuter clinics may be the best fit.

You should also consider donating your services. Nonprofits and charities have infrastructure issues, too, so offering to donate repair and maintenance services or products aligns perfectly within your industry.

Finally, you can consider charities that align with your company’s long-term goals. If your goal is to attract more professional tradesmen, then you can help local trade schools. Or if you are a member of GreenPlumbers®, you may donate time cleaning up local waterways.

Find your niche and jump all in.

Enhance Your Brand

In the trades, your company’s reputation can be the reason a customer picks you over your competition. And, by getting involved in your community, you can show customers in your area that you are committed to giving back.

If your team is planning to volunteer at a local shelter or you’re running a drive or holding an auction to raise money for your nonprofit of choice, you should make sure that the community is aware of your efforts.

Issue a press release and post it on your blog and social media channels. These all help you build relationships with your local media and with other people in the community who hold similar values.

You shouldn’t focus on what you are doing but on how what you are doing helps the community.

PR is the art of telling a story and building relationships. If you make sure that you are serving the needs of your community, you’ll build relationships with the local media and others who can help you spread the word about your fundraising events.

This, in turn, allows you to garner positive exposure and solidify your good name in the community. It’s a win-win for your company and for the people you are helping.

Build Content

In addition to all the goodwill you are spreading, you’ll also give your PR and marketing teams a chance to turn your efforts into a content development boon.

The information, images and videos that can be gathered at fundraising and volunteer events are like gold for content development. Not only will there be a pre-event press release, but there are also opportunities to post about the event while it’s going on and chances to talk about the problems your event will help solve after the event.

Images of people being helped by your work or your team being immersed in giving back are always great to have on hand to use on your website, blogs, social media and even in your advertising and customer outreach.

Build Relationships

Your involvement in your community will also help you build relationships with other business owners. Not only can you plan to partner with like-minded businesses to sponsor bigger and more diverse events, but you can also build up a referral network.

Having other well-respected business owners in your community vouch for you and your services is the kind of word-of-mouth advertising all companies wish they had.

You are also sure to run into your local media while out in the community, and the relationships you build with them reap the rewards of being considered a go-to expert on the plumbing and trades industries when they need a quote. They know you, so they think of you when developing their stories.

But juggling all this could prove to be difficult, particularly if you don’t have a dedicated employee on staff to help you develop content and develop relationships with media outlets and podcasters in your industry.

That’s where a PR agency comes in. Hiring communication experts that understand your industry and how your charitable support affects your community may be necessary to build a long-term plan. If you hire the right PR partner, your name will become synonymous with pride in the community and a willingness to help.

Spinning your philanthropic actions into PR gold doesn’t happen overnight, but having a long-term public relations strategy in place helps you turn your good deeds into positive awareness.

Heather Ripley is founder and CEO of Ripley PR, an elite, global public relations agency specializing in the home service, franchising and B2B tech industries. Ripley PR is recognized as the top PR agency for the home service industry. It also has been listed by Entrepreneur Magazine as a Top Franchise PR Agency for six consecutive years and was named to Forbes’ America’s Best PR Agencies for 2021. Heather Ripley was named as a 2024 PRNews Top Women honoree in the business entrepreneur category. She 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.

About the Author

Heather Ripley

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. It also has been listed by Entrepreneur Magazine as a Top Franchise PR Agency five years in a row and was named to Forbes’ America’s Best PR Agencies for 2021. 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.

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