Why not advertising or marketing?
Throughout the years, ASHI leaders continued to choose public relations over advertising or marketing programs for a number of reasons, including the following:
- Public relations cost less while offering the potential for a wider, deeper and longer exposure than either advertising or marketing.
- Public relations programs produce editorial content, which consumers perceive as more credible than marketing material or advertisements.
- ASHI has the perfect message for a successful public relations program — consumer protection, safety and high standards.
Today, in some areas, a house doesn’t change hands without a home inspection and ASHI members are in demand. For the most part, the demand is a result of the reputation created by local ASHI members. National public relations programs can educate consumers on how to choose a home inspector, then equate that with being an ASHI member, but it is the performance of the individual member that validates the message and builds the demand.
The Internet provided a boon to ASHI’s public relations program. With the addition of the “Find an Inspector” search function on ASHI.org, PR resources could be focused on pushing consumers, realty professionals and others interested in inspections to the Web site, where they learn about inspections and inspectors and search for and contact ASHI members.
A proactive and reactive program
The press release remains an effective staple of ASHI’s PR program. Often, it’s reprinted in full; other times, bit and pieces are picked up, and sometimes it serves to remind a reporter, editor or publisher whom to call with a related question.
All releases are posted on the ASHI Web site. Chapters and individual members are encouraged to tailor them to local concerns, then distribute them to their media contacts.
This past year, ASHI’s public relations agency distributed an article through a program that provides editors with content for a fee. The article was picked up by print and online publications in large and small markets over several months — a huge return for the cost in terms of reaching consumers.
In addition to being proactive, ASHI’s public relations agency responds to requests for information. The agency provides fact sheets and arranges interviews with the current ASHI president or other members who can address local or specific issues. Serving as the primary spokesperson for ASHI is one of the president’s most important responsibilities. During a two-month period this summer, the PR agency responded to requests for information or interviews from the following publications:
- Chicago Tribune
- REALTOR Magazine
- Associated Press
- NAR Web site
- LA Times
- Content That Works
- Phoenix Fox10
- Personal Real Estate Investor Magazine
- Business Week
Social media and all other channels of communication will be used to keep the public and the real estate industry informed about what ASHI and its members are doing to maintain the reputation so rightly earned.