I have a confession to make. When I chose to pursue a career in public relations, I was motivated not by a true understanding of the industry and all it entails, but rather by what I like to call the Samantha Jones effect. As a die-hard “Sex & the City” fan, my introduction to the world of PR was through the eyes of the show’s famous (and undoubtedly best) character. Thanks to the Samantha Jones effect, I thought that working in PR meant attending fabulous parties, wearing fabulous clothes and having the time to grab lunch everyday with my fabulous friends (not to mention eventually ending up with my very own Smith Jared). Considering the fact that the show also pretended that you could afford an endless supply of Manolo Blahniks and have a one bedroom apartment in NYC simply by writing one column a week, I should have been able to see through this narrative – and eventually, I learned there is a lot more to PR.
Needless to say, three years ago I never would have guessed that today I would be pitching topics to the media like mold prevention, spring cleaning tips, hurricane and flood recovery, or how to prevent your glass shower door from exploding (yes, that is actually a real thing). As the PR team for the Dwyer Group, a holding company of 11 service-based franchise organizations, we handle media relations for five of their brands – Mr. Rooter, Mr. Appliance, Aire Serv, Rainbow International and Glass Doctor. While this may sound just slightly less glamorous than the shenanigans Samantha Jones got into as a “publicist,” working with service brands has been a great way to learn even more about the ins-and-outs of the media. For everyone on the Dwyer Group team (shout out #DweamTeam), it’s been our mission to crack the code to making service brands sexy, and luckily our combined creativity and ability to think outside the box has allowed us to secure some fantastic coverage for our clients both locally and nationally – and we’re just getting started.
While we can’t share all of our secrets to success, here are just a few of the ways that we have successfully made service brands sexy.
Add a Little Humor
Let’s be real here. For Mr. Rooter, we secured a story in Thrillist titled “Couples that are comfortable talking about poop are the happiest couples.” A major key to successfully marketing service brands is to think outside the box and spice up the topic with some good old-fashioned humor. Reporters are regular people just like us, and if they’re getting a pitch about what couples need to know about going #2 at their significant others’ homes, the pitch should be just as tongue in cheek as the story idea is.
Give ‘Em What They Want
Consumers look to the media to get information they didn’t previously have. When it comes to this type of PR, you have to think about what the average person would want to know from a service brands expert. For example, in the case of Mr. Appliance, we leveraged the brand’s reputation for being appliance experts to pitch spring cleaning tips for your kitchen, and as a result secured several great media placements, including a local TV segment in West Palm Beach and a national hit in the Quicken Loans blog.
Tie it to a Trend or Pop Culture Event
Paying attention to what’s happening in the world is a fundamental component to working in PR, regardless of what industry you’re working with. A great way to secure coverage for a service brand is to come up with a creative way to tie your client to an event or trend that everyone is already talking about. One way we did this was pitching a story idea on what to do if your kitchen appliances break while you’re hosting a Super Bowl party. The key word here is timely.
Social Media is Your Friend
Everyone in the world of PR knows that social media is much, much more than a way to stay connected to your friends and family – it’s a way to stay connected to just about everybody, including celebrities. On that note, one idea that we came up with in the past was to monitor Twitter accounts for celebrities who tweet that their appliance broke so we could send Mr. Appliance to the rescue. Always remember that social media is your friend, and there are countless ways to think outside the box and leverage social media to market your brand.
All of the brands we represent for the Dwyer Group do more than just provide services. The Dwyer Group is known for being a company that prioritizes its values, and all of its franchisees follow suit. When companies go above and beyond to give back to those in need, it’s important to share those stories with the world and generate goodwill amongst consumers in the communities they operate. For example, one of Rainbow International franchisees has been hosting a golf tournament for local young mothers with cancer in the Columbia, S.C. community, and to date has raised nearly $180,000 to help these women and their families. After hearing about the incredible work this franchisee had done to make a difference, we shared this story with Entrepreneur and secured a profile of this franchisee. Leveraging your client’s charitable work is just another way to get your service brand in the news and help fuel brand awareness in communities nationwide.