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Local Marketing & Public Relations :: Public Relations

Public Relations Planning

In a marketplace that changes daily, strategic public relations (PR) can differentiate you from your competition. It can lead to positive community and industry exposure for your company, help reinforce your value to existing customers and create opportunities with prospective customers.

Public relations can serve as a major vehicle for communicating your dealership’s focus on quality and service, as well as your association with the Carrier brand. A well-planned PR program can raise market awareness, position you as a credible expert and industry leader, and generate actionable sales leads.

What Is Public Relations?

Public Relations is the art of communicating with various target audience segments to influence their attitudes and opinions in the interest of promoting a person, product or idea. It’s about influencing those audiences’ perceptions about the topic, and creating and reinforcing an image. Used properly and effectively, PR can become a part of your marketing mix, complementing your paid media.

Planning Your PR Efforts

The key to any successful public relations effort is a well-prepared strategic plan. Analyze your communications objectives by asking yourself the following questions:

The answers to these questions will provide public relations goals, target audiences, communication messages and an overall strategic direction for your public relations efforts.

Target Audience

The key to any good PR effort is determining how you will communicate your messages to the target audience. Since most of you will focus your public relations efforts on the community and local homeowners in your selling area, this section of the advertising guide will focus on implementing a local PR campaign.

Understanding Your Audience

In public relations, understanding your audiences’ purchasing habits is a key element. As mentioned earlier, positive PR provides product and service endorsements by third party sources...and your customers are listening.

Before you invest a great deal of effort in communications aimed at your audience, it’s important that you understand the typical Carrier customer. The Stanford Research Institute found that those customers most likely to be predisposed to the Carrier brand are most influenced by credible and authoritative third party source endorsements or information. This means that Carrier customers place value in the information – both positive and negative – communicated in third party sources such as newspaper articles, magazine articles, and television and radio news stories. Customers value what they hear from these sources and make purchasing decisions based in part on this information.

A typical Carrier customer completes research before making an educated buying decision. Research may include the content found in books, newspapers, magazines, TV or cable shows – all places where positive PR mentions about your dealership may influence the customer
to call you instead of someone else.

Media Relations Guide

Just as purchaing a TV spot or a newspaper ad buys your company valuable exposure, effective media relations can also provide you with additional coverage, often at no cost to your company's bottom line. Sounds good, right? By leveraging existing relationships with local newspapers, TV and radio stations where you have already purchased advertising, you have the opportunity to truly maximize brand awareness in your market and further boost the effectivness of your advertising dollars. The purpose of this guide is to help explain effective media relations and how to best utilize it to help it to help promote your company and the Carrier® brand.

Contacting The Media

You have several media vehicles in your local community that you can target when trying to get information communicated to the public, including:

You are most likely aware of some of the local media personalities in your community. If you are not, develop a contact list of home improvement writers and broadcast reporters and editors for local remodeling or business magazines. The list can easily be secured by noting the names of writers whenever you read a relevant article or through Web searches to identify recent local stories on home comfort.

Get to know the work of the relevant reporters or writers and then make an attempt to get to know them personally. Make them your allies. There’s nothing wrong with inviting them individually to lunch meetings. Casual conversation can help them get to know you and your business. You can gain a better understanding of what type of news they are interested in. You won’t always get immediate results, but these reporters or broadcasters may think of you the next time they decide to do a story on offering consumers tips for buying heating and air conditioning systems. The media is very busy, so don’t take a refusal as a negative sign.

Contacting media sources is typically done through a press release and follow-up calls. When writing a press release, do not include every piece of information about your topic; include those aspects that are most likely to draw attention of the media. The content of the press release, especially the lead sentence, should focus on the announcement of a single
newsworthy item.

In many instances, a media fact sheet may be used in the place of a press release, provided it includes the same pertinent information.

Following are quick tips for formatting and distributing your press release:

Helpful Media Hints

Do your homework and make sure you are sending information to the correct person. Call the location you wish to submit to and confirm the appropriate contact, as well as the phone, fax and email address. Many publications have specific editors for different topics.

Take the initiative to follow-up with the contact if you do not hear anything in a few days. Don’t be surprised if your contact never received the information – media representatives typically receive hundreds of faxes, letters and email communications every day. If the contact does not have your information or cannot recall it, suggest you resend the information immediately to his/her attention.

If the contact tells you the story is not something they wish to run, do not argue the value of the topic with them. Simply thank them and inquire about sending them future stories for consideration. Relationship building will ensure your information is considered when received.

When your information does result in a call from the media, keep a few things in mind:

Making News

While it’s important to know the secrets of good media relations, it is even more important that you understand when your company has the opportunity to make news. Oftentimes, brainstorming can help you generate good ideas. One approach is to:

When brainstorming PR opportunities for your dealership to promote to the local media, put yourself in the position of the reader – which is also your potential customer. For instance, if you have developed a unique service program that will change the way consumers view air conditioning contractors, you probably have a newsworthy story.

While each dealership is unique, some areas where you might find PR opportunities include:

Sharing PR Success

Once your company receives positive coverage, share the excitement with employees and customers:


Every organization practices public relations whether they know it or not. Every phone call, every letter, every customer interaction results in the public forming some type of opinion about your business. The goal is to establish good public relations with those parties most crucial to your business. When implemented effectively, a strategic public relations program can ensure that your organization secures a leadership position in the market and loyal customers for life.