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Low-cost and No-cost Public Relations Ideas

Sept. 29, 2021
Charlie Greer says the right PR can make you a prominent figure in your community, and almost a bit of a local celebrity.

The right public relations (PR) can make you a prominent figure in your community, and almost a bit of a local celebrity. Here are some no- and low-cost ways to boost your PR.

Wikipedia

Did you know you can create your own Wikipedia page about your company for free? You can and should include your whole company’s history, as well as your own personal history on it. There is a distinct possibility it will be the first thing people see when they research your company on the web. It really makes you look like you are somebody. 

LinkedIn

People often overlook LinkedIn, but I know people who use it for most of the marketing. PR and LinkedIn are all about establishing relationships, so your best bet, as with anything, is to be prepared to help people who contact you through LinkedIn. 

Business Events

There are business events of all kinds in most towns of any size. Attend business functions and establish relationships. The more people you meet that know you’re in HVAC, the more business you’ll get. 

Press releases

A Nielsen study shows that 92% of consumers trust “earned media.” This is where press releases & media relations come in.  

Most newspapers, including those that are both in print and have an online version, have a business section where they announce new hires and employee promotions. They often include a picture and a short bio on the individual. Don’t overlook these opportunities. You can send press releases when you open a new location, start selling a new product or offering a new service, or create or redesign a website, blog or YouTube channel or video. The more press releases you send out, the more familiar producers and editors get with your name. 

Run by your message with friends and family to see what they think of the messaging before sending it out.

The media is always looking for news. Build relationships with your local newspapers, radio stations, and TV stations. Have consistent engagement with them so they remember you. 

Get on the Radio

Are you funny and interesting? Do you know how Larry the Cable Guy went from a nobody to a headlining comic almost overnight? He started calling the morning shows of radio stations all across the country for a few hours per day, and being funny. Soon, they were asking him to call in on a regular basis, and paying him to do so. The next thing he knew, he was receiving calls to appear as the headliner in comedy clubs.

YouTube

Start making short videos of tips and hacks. Keep them very short. Don’t do a long instruction. Have your company name and contact info on the screen. Every time you make a new video, send out a press release. 

Get on TV

Once you’ve made a few YouTube videos, you can make one on a timely topic and send a link to the producer of a local morning talk/news program. They’re always looking for things like this. They might invite you on as a guest. Do a good job and they’ll have you back on a regular basis as their go-to expert. 

Press Kit

If you’re going to get involved with the media, have a press kit that includes your company’s background, brand story, factsheet, bios, high-resolution images and media contact details.

Facebook

Make a personal Facebook page and a corporate page. Post your YouTube videos, new hires, employee profiles, pics of happy customers and what they had to say about you (with their permission, of course), and short info pieces on various products and services you offer (new and old) on Facebook. Do that at least once per week

You can “boost” certain announcements to targeted markets on Facebook for next to nothing. My friends, clients, and I have had great success with boosting Facebook announcements. 

Contests

Contests for the area’s oldest furnace, A/C, heat pump, etc., still work. Start by sending a direct mail piece and email to your customers that you know have older equipment, then announce it to the public.

Have a tech that’s good with people go to the homes of customers who want to enter the contest for free to verify the age of the unit. You’ll be getting into homes of YOUR customers that you KNOW have older equipment.

They’re absolutely going to ask how much a new one is, so make sure the tech knows how to price replacement jobs. Have the contest end at the beginning of your slow season and get back with them after the contest is over and offer them an incentive to replace their equipment now. 

Tell local TV stations about it and have them put you on their local morning talk/news program. You’ll only get about five minutes on that show, so have a short statement that you’re doing this to help the environment because old equipment wastes energy.

Invite the TV station to have a live camera crew there when the winner is announced. Many times the winner is an old person, or someone who otherwise couldn’t have afforded to replace their equipment. That makes for a great human interest story, and makes you look good.

A 'Day in the Life'

Once you establish a healthy, ongoing relationship with a local TV station, volunteer to do an “A Day in the Life” feature. Human interest stories sell, especially in small communities, and the public will enjoy seeing a “behind the scenes” look at what we do. If you can make this happen, a feature like this is a great way to build trust and demonstrate transparency. 

Electronic Signs

If your shop is on a main drag, have an electronic sign with the accurate time and temperature and a short, positive saying on it that is changed regularly.

Logo the Roof of Your Trucks

If your company does a lot of work in a metropolitan area with a lot of high-rise buildings, put your company’s name on the top of your trucks. People will look down on them from their office buildings and start to recognize your name.

Join Business Associations

Join Rotary, the local Chamber of Commerce, and other local associations. Make sure you attend the meetings, and when you do, wear your uniform and have plenty of business cards with you.

 You won’t even have to promote your business. If you attend the meeting regularly, people will get to know you, and you’ll be the first person they think of when they, or a friend of theirs, needs your services.

These organizations are always looking for people to give short talks. HVAC contractors do it all the time. You should, too. 

Sponsor Teams

Sponsoring a little league or bowling team gives you a big bang for your buck. They draw small crowds, and have very few sponsors, so your name really stands out. And their parents really appreciate it. You will absolutely be the first person they think of when they have a need for your services.

Logo Merchandise

Give customers useful merchandise with your logo on it. Sweater, hoodies, t-shirts, and oven mitts are great. 

One of the best closing tools I used to have was, when I gave a price to a customer and they told me they were 90% certain they were going to buy from me, but they just needed to think it over. I’d go out to my vehicle and bring in a couple of nice, fairly high quality polos because that was the style back then. I told them that if they could just go ahead and make up their minds while I was there, that they could have them.

Charlie Greer was twice voted the HVAC Consultant-of-the-Year and Favorite Industry Sales Trainer. He’s also a member of the HVAC Hall of Fame. For information on Charlie’s products -and services, go to www.hvacprofitboosters.com or call 1-800-963-HVAC (4822). Email your feedback or sales questions to [email protected].

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