3. Customers are your greatest PR assets.
As security dealers are acutely aware, a satisfied customer is your greatest marketing, advertising and PR asset. More than that, they offer a powerful counter to the millions of dollars that cable and telco providers can spend to market and advertise their offering. There are some truly innovative and effective word of mouth marketing (WOMM) campaigns underway by security dealers that leverage traditional channels as well emerging ones. Forrester Research estimates that 80% of all purchase cycles involve some form of WOMM recommendation.
4. Understand role of press releases and wire services. The press release is one of the most misunderstood elements of PR today. Before the explosion of social media, before the Internet was pervasive, placing a press release on the wire was synonymous with getting media to cover your announcement.
Times have changed. The press release is a useful resource to share with reporters, but it does not “drive” news coverage. Use the press release as a data source for reporters. If you are reaching out and discussing the announcement, the press release is readily available if the reporter requires more information or needs to understand the timeliness of the pitch.
5. Leverage social media and video. Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube and other social media channels present both a blessing and a curse. Done right, social media can help establish a more personal and meaningful connection with consumers, while allowing dealers to put a face on a faceless brand.
Done wrong social media becomes a bottomless drain on time, resources and money in which the dealer meanders around with little strategy expecting simply hanging a shingle on various social media sites and posting bland, infrequent content will somehow draw scores of new customers.
Security dealers embarking on a social media and video strategy must assess internal resources; monitor, engage and spark existing customers; and reach out to new customers.
6. Consider a subject matter expert program. There are multiple elements to a perfect news story. First, you need a compelling announcement that impacts a news outlet’s viewers/listeners/readers in a meaningful way. Second, you need to assemble the right set of spokespeople a media outlet would want input from, such as the security dealer executive, a customer or potentially an industry analyst. The final element, which is critical, is there should be a strong time hook to the news.
Positioning yourself as a subject matter expert (SME) who can provide unique and insightful commentary on news trends related to the services you provide is extremely valuable and can represent a core component of ongoing PR activities.
7. Establish thought leadership. Thought leadership content not only unlocks new opportunities to generate awareness of the security dealer’s brand, but also can position a dealer — and its executives — as thought leaders at the front edge of technology innovation. Weighing in on industry and consumer trends, data and policy developments at the national and local level that impact the business demonstrates the dealer is not trailing the market, but helping to drive it.
8. Evaluate local awards and speaking opportunities. Consumers and partners are more inclined to do business with firms deemed as successful. A resident in Ohio will gravitate to a security dealer that is named one of Cincinnati’s fastest growing companies or one led by Cincinnati’s executive of the year than they would a company with an unfavorable BBB rating. Brand perception matters, which is why identifying and submitting for local award and speaking opportunities can benefit the business.
9. Don’t overlook national press. Local dealers might not think they have anything to offer national media, and thus might not even attempt to secure coverage with national TV, print, online and radio outlets. At the same time, dealers might question the value of getting exposure with customers outside of the area it serves. The fact that a respected outlet has covered your business or technology is a stamp of approval. This can be particularly useful as consumers weigh your offering against larger telecom and cable providers.
10. Leverage dealer program resources. Independent security dealers that are part of dealer programs have come to rely on program marketing resources and collateral for sales support. The same can apply for PR: dealer program contacts can make available content, editorial relationships and strategy resources that might be of value. While PR resources may not always be spelled out in communications from the dealer program, dealers should inquire nonetheless, as there is a mutual benefit to the program and independent dealers when PR is successfully leveraged.
Brian Lustig is a partner at Bluetext, an integrated communications services firm based in Washington, D.C.
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