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It’s a fair assumption that, as a home service company, you’re likely to have already made or are making a marketing and advertising plan to draw in business, fill open positions and drum up leads for 2023.
However, if you’ve forgotten to include public relations in this marketing plan, you are likely leaving a lot on the table that could take your business from slow growth to booming.
Most home service companies know the value of advertising and marketing because they can correlate these expenditures with getting the phones to ring. If you want to make sure your business continues to grow and cement your team as the experts in their field, you need to add public relations to your 2023 marketing budget.
While most decision-makers may have a vague idea of what public relations is, they often think they aren’t a big enough company in the skilled trades space to need public relations. Or they believe they will only need a PR professional should a public crisis arise. However, public relations can be beneficial to any size home service company because it builds relationships as it grows your positive reputation.
Here’s how public relations can help you take your business to the next level in the coming year:
1. Building relationships with the media. Whether you are trying to get coverage on a local, state or national level or get more interest from trade publications, public relations can help you build relationships with the media. PR professionals often worked in media and have built-in relationships with their former counterparts, so they can often introduce your company as the experts to turn to.
If a reporter has a question about burst pipes during a cold snap and values your reputation, you are more likely to be who they call to discuss this subject. And earned media attention is the best: it’s trusted more by consumers than any other form of communication.
2. Building a relationship with your customers. While new business is always great, it’s often repeat business keeping a company in the black. PR allows you to interact directly with your current customers and target audience. Whether it’s helping you remain a presence within your customers’ daily lives or providing the right responses to your online reviews, public relations helps you connect with those you serve.
3. Presenting your company in a positive light. Many smaller companies don’t think they need a public relations firm until something goes wrong and they need to defend their reputation. However, keeping your name in front of the public as a positive force can often help tamp down a crisis of poor publicity.
If you’re known in the community as a philanthropist or a trustworthy business owner who resolves customer disputes, it’s much harder to tar your company as bad or unresponsive if you’ve already shown your goodwill.
4. Bolstering your online presence. Whether you are looking to expand your business or trying to recruit top talent, having an active and positive online image is a huge assist. Studies have shown that at least 81 percent of consumers research companies online before ever working with a business (http://bit.ly/3DTinja). And a CareerBuilder survey reports that 64 percent of all recruits research a company online before applying for a job opening (http://bit.ly/3O7sdCH).
5. Boosting your visibility and your brand. While there’s certainly a need for marketing and advertising in any communications budget, an Inc. magazine article notes that 96 percent of consumers say they don’t trust advertising (http://bit.ly/3O11GqP), while 92 percent say they do trust earned media (http://bit.ly/3WWqrIt).
Earned media is publicity gained from methods other than paid advertising. When your company name or services appear in the media spotlight organically, your visibility and authority are automatically elevated.
6. Establishing you as the expert in your field. If you’ve ever seen guest articles written by your competitor or wondered why they were chosen to speak as a subject matter expert for a local news story, the answer is that they probably hired a PR agency.
Public relations professionals act as your cheerleader and vouch for your expertise in speaking on a variety of industry-related topics. This helps you build a relationship with local and trade journalists who will continue to turn to you when they have questions relating to your industry.
Maintaining the brand
Public relations helps your business build and maintain its brand and reputation and tells your story to its stakeholders — existing and potential customers, partners, investors and employees. However, sustaining a several-pronged approach to PR can be difficult without a significant investment in time.
If you don’t possess the staffing or a dedicated PR team, it can be nearly impossible to keep up with the number of press releases, blogs and social media posts you’ll need to generate to remain relevant. You also will need to invest time to build relationships with the news media and trade reporters in order to secure coverage on television, in news and trade publications and online. And you will need to carve out some hours in the day to monitor reviews for timely responses.
Juggling your outreach efforts can be difficult when you consider all the other tasks you and your team handle to properly run your business. It’s why partnering with a professional PR agency familiar with how the home service industry works can be the best approach when it comes to growing your business. Public relations teams employ experienced writers and media relations outreach professionals who can do this legwork on your behalf.
While you should absolutely budget for your immediate advertising needs, public relations is the best tool to build long-term credibility and visibility. Consumer trends may evolve and marketing tactics can shift, but a good reputation is always valuable.
So, in 2023, if you want to expand your business, grow your brand and surpass your competition, don’t forget to include public relations in your marketing budget.