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When most home service contractors think of the word “spin,” they might picture an HVAC fan or how a plumbing snake tumbles out of the pipe. However, when public relations professionals use the word, they mean putting a special point of view or emphasis into the world to influence opinion. And this definition sometimes causes the average person to shake their heads with disdain.
There is nothing wrong with spinning a story; in fact, the opposite is true. If you fail to provide a reporter with your side of an issue or don’t provide the facts, you are abdicating your responsibilities as a business owner.
You are also failing to provide the journalist with a good story.
Learn The Skill
Every business has a story to tell. Whether it’s how you got started in the home service industry, why your brand has lasted for years in your community or even how well-trained your technicians are, the reason for your company’s existence can be turned into an interesting yarn.
However, you must know how to tell your story in an effective way that caters to your audience.
Public relations is all about storytelling. It’s what PR professionals do every day, all day long. From the press releases or blogs we write for our clients to pitching their attributes and expertise, PR experts hang their hats on being able to tell a good story, especially to media outlets.
Great stories always include a good message or central theme, a clear structure and at least one relatable character. For the home service expert, the art of spinning a good yarn should be an integral part of your public relations content strategy.
Storytelling doesn’t come naturally to everyone, but if you know your services, have defined your brand and understand your target audience, telling your company’s story can become a skill you can learn.
Effective storytelling lets your audience not only know what your company does but tells them who your company is. If your audience can relate to your brand, you can develop loyal customers willing to stick with your company even when presented with alternatives.
And most consumers prefer authenticity.
Building an authentic brand means you should be transparent, consistent and genuine. Don’t hide who your company is or try to be something you’re not. By being honest in your communications with the media and the public, you build trust and loyalty.
Another way to learn the art of spin is to put yourself in a reporter’s shoes. Realize that writers want to tell the publication’s readers a good story that’s of value in their lives. They aren’t trying to sell their audience a service or product or bore them to tears.
So, if your story isn’t even interesting to you or your employees, chances are it won’t be of interest to the public. Organizations can employ the following four tips to effectively tell their story in a way that interests listeners or readers:
1. Stay relevant. Even if you tell the story about how your 50-year-old business was started in your grandfather’s basement, you can tie it into how your home service business has grown and changed with new technology.
2. Provide proof. A good way to engage your listeners is to provide them with recent surveys or statistics backing up your claims. If you’re recommending they switch to low-flow showerheads, provide some statistical information from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency about how much water they save, for example.
3. Be accountable. Contractors depend on their reliability and trustworthiness to attract customers. From accepting responsibility in response to bad reviews to discussing the efforts your company makes to give back to your community, being accountable for your mistakes or to your neighbors makes an interesting story.
4. Provide a service. This doesn’t necessarily mean the home services you are paid to perform; this means you should offer DIY tips or advice to homeowners as a public service. If the weather is freeing, let them know how to protect their piping system or if there is a local law change in how inspections must be done, advise them on the best route to take.
Whatever you do, practice your story enough so that you sound natural. Consumers know when someone is coming across as forced, and this turns them off.
We all know that practice makes perfect. Not only is it a good idea to consistently publish good content to keep your name in the news and your business on the first page of Google searches, but it’s also helpful in allowing you to hone your storytelling skills.
The more blogs you write or interviews you give, the more chances you need to engage with your readers or listeners. You can develop how you represent your brand with each new endeavor.
Being active in your storytelling also means you should stay in touch with new communication avenues. In only a few short decades, our society has gone from telling our story by writing it down on paper to talking about it via radio or TV. We’re now back to writing our story but having the bonus of being able to publish it to millions of people in an instant.
Don’t limit your storytelling to one avenue. Get your message out through traditional media as well as using new technology.
Measure Your Success
Finally, you should see how you’re doing. We often lament that in PR, it’s hard to measure a return on investment as strictly as one can measure search engine results or calls from a campaign.
However, there are ways to tell if your message is hitting home.
Building your brand is a long-haul process; it can’t be done in a week or even a few months. It takes years to build, but the results should be easily acknowledged. If you see increased visitors to your website or social media after a media interview or an increase in calls after providing tips on keeping a home cool while cutting utility costs, you are doing something right.
If you’re getting more interview requests, growing your social media channels and attracting a solid customer base, you’ve gotten the hang of storytelling. And that’s a skill you can use for the remainder of your professional life.