Category Archives: Meg Weadock

The Basics of Public Relations: 5 Tools of the Trade

For any business owner, brand recognition is the key to continual growth. In the highly competitive fire alarm dealer market, it’s especially important to keep your brand top-of-mind – and always in a positive way, of course. That’s where public relations comes in.

What is PR?
Public relations (PR) refers to any activity that helps to build awareness of a company, product, service or technology. PR also works to establish a company’s identity – whether it’s fun-loving, tough or heartfelt – within an industry.

Why is PR Necessary?
To some, PR might seem like an abstract business activity that only large, shady companies or celebrities require. But in fact, smaller fire alarm dealers could see a significant impact from PR, such as:

  • Getting your company’s name out there – in newspapers, online, etc. – helps potential customers become familiar with who you are and what you offer, and more importantly, establishes you as an “industry expert”.
  • PR can help educate end users on fire alarm technology and codes, to which most people outside of the industry are new.
  • It highlights the good you’re doing. As a fire alarm dealer, your business helps other companies, their employees and the community. PR helps you spread the word and ensure that it stays positive.

Tools of the Trade
PR professionals use a variety of tools to reach their audiences. Here’s a quick summary of some that can benefit your business:

  • Press releases: Notifications of company news, customer wins, events, charity work, successful projects, etc. Press releases are sent to local and industry media outlets, such as newspapers, magazines and websites, to encourage press coverage.
  • Interviews: Here is an opportunity to establish yourself (and your company) as an expert in the fire alarm industry. At industry events, or following a new press release, reach out to members of the media and offer to do a one-on-one interview on industry trends, current events, fire safety tips, etc.
  • Case studies: Following a successful installation, write up an overview of the project with quotes and information from your customer. Case studies can be posted on your company website to illustrate to potential customers how your services solve specific challenges. These offer great content for your social media channels to share too.
  • Public service announcements: As part of the fire alarm industry, you have an opportunity to conduct community outreach and education on fire safety, response and technology. You might post fire safety PSAs on your website or social media pages, or even partner with a local television or radio network to provide your expertise on the subject.
  • Bylined articles: Industry publications often look for articles written by fire alarm dealers, consultants and other experts. Reach out to editors in your field and offer to provide a bylined article on an emerging trend, current challenges, new codes, etc. However, keep in mind that most publications require bylined articles be strictly vendor-neutral; so focus on the broader topic, not your particular company or product offering.

Get Started
You can start by doing some PR work yourself. If you’re comfortable with a bit of research and some writing, you can get off to a good start with a few press releases and press interviews. To find out more, search “DIY PR,” and dive right in!

Many companies of all sizes – from start-ups to global corporations – hire a third-party firm to handle their PR. A wide selection of PR firms are available to companies in any area, and many specialize in specific industries. A LinkedIn search can help you identify PR professionals with expertise in the fire alarm industry.

Whether you do your own PR work or contract out to a professional, keep in mind the end goal: You want potential customers to become more familiar with your brand, and to have your company positively recognized. With each piece of positive media coverage, your company will be one step closer to success.

About the Author
Meg Weadock is Content Strategist for CompassPR, which provides comprehensive public relations, marketing and communications services to emerging leaders in the technology space.

For information on Fire-Lite’s Public Relations please visit the PR Web Page or contact Beth Welch, Public Relations Manager.

The Basics of Advertising: Seven Ways to Get Started

Any small business owner would likely agree that growing their business is one of the primary goals. And as a fire alarm dealer, differentiating yourself from the competition is even more vital. That’s why getting your company’s name out there is so important, right from the start.

Beyond word of mouth from satisfied customers, advertising is your best bet for attracting new prospects and building your customer base. Luckily, you don’t have to spend thousands of dollars on prime-time TV spots to create an effective advertising strategy. In fact, by starting small, you’re more likely to attract the strong customer base that you want—local, and actually in the market for your services—without overspending.

Consider these steps as a starting point:

  1. Use email marketing. Email is a very inexpensive way to reach new customers, advertise your services and specials, share news about your business and discuss updated industry news or new fire codes. Low-cost sites such as iContact and Constant Contact allow you to easily build HTML emails, even if you have no coding experience. You can collect contact information for prospective customers at tradeshows and other events, or even buy or rent it through a leads agency. Quarterly and/or monthly newsletters are also a great way to stay in touch with current customers and deliver new ideas on expanding your relationship.
  2. Build a blog. Company blogs are another free way to get your name out there, while demonstrating industry leadership, market knowledge and company expertise. Your blog could be a great outlet for photos of successful projects, commentary on industry news and even employee spotlights. WordPress and Blogger are two easy-to-use (and free!) blog platforms that can help get you started.
  3. Connect with local media. Share your company’s story with local news stations, newspapers and bloggers. Then, offer to write guest commentaries on fire safety and other fire topics. The more you spread the word on fire safety, prevention and technology, the more people will associate you with this level of expertise.
  4. Network with other businesses. Remember: Networking is one of the golden rules of great public relations and business lead generation. Connecting with other local businesses, residents and local government groups, such as the Chamber of Commerce, is a great way to build opportunity for new business. Many local residents and businesses find service providers through Chamber of Commerce recommendations.
  5. Get social. Social media tools such as LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook​ are free to use and can really help to increase your brand recognition. As a local business, it’s also important to monitor review sites such as Yelp and Google Review​ to gauge levels of customer satisfaction. Remember that the most important thing is your reputation. When a customer posts a negative review of your work, you must address it and use it as an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive.
  6. Stay involved. Becoming an active member of your local community can go a long way. Sponsor a local little league group or actively support a local charity, such as Habitat for Humanity. Not only does giving back help increase brand awareness; it also establishes you as a company that cares.
  7. Leverage PR tools. New online tools such as HARO (helpareporter.com) and Pitch Engine are an inexpensive way to increase exposure and get in front of customers and media.

​​Experiment with these and other advertising ideas to find the approach that works best for your company. Before long, you’ll start to see a return on your investment – in the form of a growing base of happy customers.

 

About the Author:
Meg Weadock is a writer and editor for CompassPR, which provides comprehensive public relations, marketing and communications services to emerging leaders in the technology space.