Frank Sinatra wasn’t talking about your construction firm’s public relations practice when he sang “Start Spreading the News,” but his words apply nonetheless. You need to create a steady flow of company news to build your reputation, generate leads, and support business development.
The Company News Vacuum
Most construction firms operate in a vacuum when it comes to sending out company news. I experienced this as editor for two heavy construction magazines starting in the late 1990s. Where were all the press releases? The same handful of companies would send a steady diet of news. In most cases, it was obvious these folks were using a PR agency. Guess who got all the publicity.
For years I struggled with why so many construction firms left free publicity on the table. Nearly 25 years and hundreds of contacts later, I concluded that the reasons don’t matter. I only know that it represents missed opportunity.
Telling is Better than Selling
There’s an argument to be made for keeping your audience aware of your news as opposed to selling via traditional advertising. It’s easier to shape opinion with fact-based news over time than it is to promote something with biased advertising.
People are more receptive when reading news than they are when scanning ads, especially in today’s world where buyers are more informed and skeptical than ever. We even read news with some degree of skepticism, but we’re generally more open to it because we believe most, if not all, is fact-based. In contrast, we look at advertisements with skepticism because we know that the information is biased. We’re also bracing ourselves for a sales pitch. Telling works better than selling.
Does Anyone Read the News?
Today’s general news media has become so toxic that many people have opted out altogether. But it would be foolish to opt out of reading the trade magazines that cover your industry. How else will you find out about new products, ideas, technologies, materials, and of course, dirt on your competition?
The old joke has always been that you can find your favorite trade magazines in the bathroom of most construction companies. It makes sense considering construction professionals are always on the go and focused on doing the work, especially when times are good.
Why Headline Scanning Matters
What if people don’t read your news? Is it worth your effort? There’s no doubt that the people you want to reach are busier than ever, but rest assured they are at least scanning industry news.
That brings us to the question of whether headline scanning helps your cause. We hear these days many reports that technology is turning us into skimmers and page scanners that lack the ability to read an in-depth article. (Are you still with us?)
With that said, headline scanning is valuable regardless of whether your audience is exposed to the headline in a trade magazine or in a Twitter feed. That, of course, assumes that the headline is well written and properly summarizes your news.
Show Progress and Stop Negative Rumors
Sharing company news is important because it shows progress. How many times have you heard that a certain construction company has been quiet for awhile followed by speculation that they might be going out of business?
It’s important to continuously let the market know you’re open for business. More importantly, you must be front of mind for those times when opportunities arise.
But your sales team is beating the phones, so why bother? Because I’m not aware of a sales team that can reach your audience as quickly and thoroughly than a network of trade magazines and social media exposures, not to mention improved search rankings that will come by posting the news on your website.
Build Influence Over Time
Building a reputation doesn’t happen overnight. PR is about influencing your target audience with repeated exposures over time. It’s the drip effect. In advertising, we call this an impression. In business development, it’s called a touch.
Consider this hypothetical situation. Both Barney Rubble Construction (BRC) and Fred Flintstone Construction (FFC) are named low bidder for 10 bridge rehab projects for the Bedrock City DOT in 2018. BRC announces the wins each time with a press release and social media posts. FFC remains silent. Is it safe to say that BRC will develop a stronger reputation for bridge rehab work?
Let the Audience Be the Judge
Sharing your company news is a no brainer. The most enticing aspect of this approach is that you’re not bragging about your accomplishments; you’re simply sharing the facts and allowing the reader to come to his or her own conclusion.
In the Mad Men era of the 1970s, we shouted at the customer about why our product or service was the best. The market has changed and so has your buyer. Start publicizing your results to shape the way your company is perceived and you’ll win the long game.
Do you distribute company news? What kind of results have you seen?
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