Many trucking companies work hard to stay out of the media by doing everything they possibly can to avoid collisions, and generally keep a low profile when it comes to reporters.
While paid advertising is one way to promote your brand and raise awareness, public relations tactics that deliberately put you in the media spotlight can deliver real results.
What is PR? Public relations is the practice of managing the spread of information between an organization and the public. Public relations involves an organization gaining exposure using topics of public interest and news items that do not require direct payment.
Effective PR can have your organization looked upon favorably by prospective and existing customers, employees you already have and ones you want. It can build brand recognition and get people to visit your website and social media pages.
Eight ways to get in the media spotlight
1. Reveal something newsworthy about your business, or customer trends: Media want to report what’s new, what’s different and what’s trending. Is there something unique or special about your business or service that sets it apart from all the rest? Are you noticing a trend in shipping patterns, or some other aspect connected to your customers? Are you an early adopter of technology? But to capture media interest, it’s actually got to be newsworthy. To really stand out in a crowd, find something that no one else is doing.
2. Be available to reporters as a subject matter expert: Introduce yourself to the media and industry (trade) reporters and tell them you are available as a source of information about your area of expertise. Be ready to outline your credentials and back up why they should talk to you instead of someone else. Reporters are always looking for people to provide the local angle who are subject matter experts on topics they are writing about. It’s a good idea to make sure you’ve got the facts and figures correct, so get involved with your industry association so you are always on the forefront of leading issues.
3. Hijack existing news events: Is there a timely issue or topic that is capturing the headlines? Hop on the bandwagon while the story is breaking and make yourself available for comment. Create Google alerts for ‘fuel prices’, ‘ELDs’, or other topics you wish to comment on. When that topic is trending in the media, contact reporters and let them know you are available to comment.
4. Timing is everything: If you want to draw attention to how your company employs female drivers or mechanics, or is owned by a woman, it helps to connect it to some other event or initiative that is taking place. Events like Canadian Trucking Alliance’s National Trucking Week and Trucking HR Canada’s Take Our Kids to Work Day are all anchor events that might make it easier to pitch your story idea to a reporter.
5. Use social media: Reporters monitor social media networks and that is another reason your business should be there. Develop a strong content strategy that will help you connect with influencers and thought leaders in the trucking industry (and media). Thoughtful, genuinely helpful posts will build a following. Before posting anything, every marketer should ask him or herself: “Why is this important information for my audience?” If the post just serves you, then think again about posting at all.
6. Go for medals: When companies or its leaders win awards, celebrate major milestones or are recognized for philanthropic endeavors, you give the media a reason to mention your businesses’ name. Significant industry awards like Top Fleet Employers among others can actually elevate not only the status of your business among your peers and customers, but also attract the kind of employees you want working for you.
7. Host a business or charitable event: Invite your local chamber of commerce, trade association, or economic development office to use your facility as the venue for their next major announcement, press conference or business meeting. (Make sure there is some sort of logical connection between your business activity and the reason for the event). Inviting charitable groups to use your terminal as a venue is not only kind, it connects you with an activity that supports positive work in the community.
8. Celebrate a customer’s story: If you have a customer who is doing something unique, special or unexpected, and your business plays a role in that activity, it may be of media interest. Maybe your customer is doing something that is good for the environment and you were somehow involved. Being part of a good news story, even if you aren’t the subject matter directly, is also good PR.
Rebecka Freels, former CTA and OTA communications director, operates a Calgary-based marketing, communications and events practice with clients in the transport industry. Reach her at Rebecka@beyondwordscommunications.com.