Heather Ripley, CEO and founder of Ripley PR, shares about the power public relations can have for both general contractors and the B2B companies that serve them.
MCS: Creating market differentiation is sometimes a challenge in the construction industry. How does public relations fit into the equation?
RIPLEY: It’s pretty simple. All businesses benefit from media exposure. Studies consistently show that people are more trusting of third-party articles from credible sources than advertising messages. Public relations is about building a strong foundation of earned media coverage for your company, each story adding to the portrayal of the business as a credible industry expert.
This is not to say that PR should replace paid advertising. It certainly does increase the effectiveness of marketing over the long term, though. It’s easier to reach new clients if you’re already top of mind as the best and most well-known contractor in the market.
MCS: What is the difference between public relations and marketing?
RIPLEY: Marketing encompasses everything you’re doing to sell your company’s services or products. Public relations is a tactic of marketing. PR is getting someone else to talk about your company and say how great you are. An effective and well-executed public relations plan will help with all of your company’s efforts to be more visible online, no matter what the platform.
A good PR strategy ensures your marketing efforts are guided by a consistent vision. The objective is to increase your brand’s visibility, boost its reputation, and keep it top of mind with potential clients. Some of the tactics that can be used to accomplish this include securing earned media coverage and television appearances, regularly releasing informative and newsworthy press releases, and creating engaging social media and website content.
MCS: What issues can contractors face when trying to boost their brands?
RIPLEY: Have you ever thought word-of-mouth is dead? It’s not. It’s still one of the best ways to attract new clients. These days, it’s taking place online through forums and online reviews, and you cannot afford to ignore them.
Reputation management should be part of any comprehensive public relations strategy. Its usefulness shouldn’t be underestimated. Word of mouth is still powerful, and ignoring what is being said about your company online means losing control of the narrative and giving someone else the power to define your company in negative ways.
MCS: When it comes to promoting positive images of their businesses, one question that construction business owners struggle with is whether they should draw attention to their charitable giving? Isn’t that too self-serving?
RIPLEY: Sharing your company’s good deeds without coming across as overly self-promotional means walking a fine line. But I highly encourage it! Your company is able to donate more money or services than most individuals can, so you have the opportunity to make a greater difference in helping your chosen cause. Plus, you are raising awareness of the need and could potentially inspire others in your community to do good, too.
We all know it’s hard to find skilled labor right now. Sharing your company’s charitable giving could help a candidate choose your company over someone else’s.
There are definitely ways to talk about your giving culture without it being overbearing or offensive. Make sure to keep your public relations efforts in line with your overall business brand. That lets your good deeds blend unobtrusively in with your business philosophy.
MCS: How do you recommend a company share its charitable giving without coming across as too self-promotional?
RIPLEY: For our clients, we always recommend that it be done sincerely and with consideration. The way to approach the issue is by putting the charity at the heart of the giving story and not putting the stoplight on the size of your donation. Public relations is a way to help the charity get needed attention and publicity. Charities need visibility to garner the donations that let them do their own good works.
MCS: Closing thought?
RIPLEY: When thinking about public relations, all construction businesses must be able to set clear goals to aim for in order to keep growing and thriving. The most successful companies are continually refining and retuning their marketing. Today, your goal might be to cement your image as the top contractor in the market. Tomorrow, your goal might be to get acquired. Either way, shining a media spotlight on your company will help you get there.
For more information:
Heather Ripley is founder and CEO of Ripley PR, an elite, global public relations agency specializing in home service and building trades. Ripley PR has been recognized by Entrepreneur Magazine as a Top Franchise PR agency 3 years in a row and was named to Forbes’ America’s Best PR Agencies for 2021. For more, visit www.ripleypr.com.
Modern Contractor Solutions, July 2021
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