A client for whom I handled public relations and marketing for years called me into his office. He was a bit agitated. He had read that one of his long-time retail tenants–part of a national chain–had leased space locally for a regional sales office from another real estate firm. He had called the regional manager who said, “We thought you only owned retail property. We like dealing with you and if we knew you owned office space, we certainly would have leased from you.”
That was an epiphany. When you live and breathe your products/services, you assume that everyone knows everything you do. Often they only know one thing you do because that’s what they needed when they first started working with you. Or maybe you’ve expanded into other areas. My solution: Include all company services in every marketing vehicle–news stories, ads, blogs, letters, brochures and of course, the company website. Never assume people know everything you do.
To better describe this phenomenon, think about that ubiquitous household product in the blue and yellow can - WD 40. In 1953, the creator wanted to make a rust-preventer/degreaser for the aerospace industry. In his San Diego lab, it took 40 attempts to work out the perfect water displacement formula. Its first newsworthy use was protecting the outer skin of an Atlas missile. He didn’t know his workers were sneaking cans of WD 40 home for 100 unintended home uses!
You may only use the product to remedy a squeaky door. But among other little-known uses: Helps snow or soil slip off tools; cleans tile and grout; removes rust, tar, tape residue. Among the most unusual uses: A bus driver used WD 40 to remove a python coiled around the undercarriage of his bus, and police used it to remove a naked burglar trapped in an AC vent.
The lesson for every business person? Occasionally take a step back and look through the eyes of current or prospective customers at how you promote your business. Do dental patients know that you also fit invisible braces? Do clients know that your insurance team includes certified financial planners? Do potential clients know your architectural firm does space planning and construction management?
Closer to home, your favorite PR pro (me!) has fallen into that same trap, assuming everyone knows everything I can do to build buzz about their business, from performing interviews and research to creating compelling news stories to developing and implementing strategies for multi-tiered marketing campaigns. Just like WD 40, there are many things an experienced and creative PR pro can do that you’re not aware of. The lesson: Always remember to grease the wheels. Great PR doesn’t happen by itself. Let’s chat.
Stanley Hurwitz is principal/creative director of Creative Communications, Stoughton, Mass.