'So how do you make walls sexy?' That was the challenge from an industry expert concerned that partitions and ceilings don't get much space in the media, while the more glamorous elements of a building – such as furniture and fittings – enjoy extensive coverage.
I've risen to his challenge for two reasons. First, because the basic PR or communication solutions for walls have echoes across a vast range of products and industries – and perhaps this is a sector that needs to become more proactive in its communication. Second, while I've written PR material for a broad spectrum of products and services, two that stand out for longevity are bricks and plasterboard. I reckon I know a bit about making walls sexy. So, how?
Start by asking some questions.
Step 1: Why communicate? Are you trying to sell a product, or the skills necessary for a perfect installation? What makes you different?
Step 2: Who are your targets? Ultimately we are all selling something and it's important to know who our buyers are, because we need to communicate with them in terms they can understand.
Step 3: What are the core messages you want to get across?
Step 4: What are the best media? The potential range is huge – from traditional print to the new electronic media such as websites, blogs, emails … and Twitter.
Now let's think more closely about today's example: walls and ceilings.
Apart from being part of our shelter from the elements, bricks, plasterboard, timber, glass and other materials define the space in which we live, work, learn and play. Walls convert a naked structural frame into a fully clad human environment. Walls are the blank canvas that we decorate to turn a house into a home, commercial space into an office, or retail space into a shop.
Walls and ceilings also contribute to our quality of life. Masonry, insulation and plasterboard, for example, combine for enhanced thermal and acoustic performance that puts a brake on our energy costs and separates us from noisy neighbours. The excellent fire resistance of many modern partitioning and ceiling products also improves our safety in emergency situations.
Many products now used for partitions and ceilings are eminently recyclable, so construction and demolition waste no longer need to go to landfill – indirectly enhancing our response to environmental issues.
By now it should be clear that if I want to make walls sexy, I have to think outside the construction box to identify their ‘human’ side. Where there's people there's news. Installing a partition isn't news; creating an office just might be. Lining out a new building in less than the scheduled time, with minimal wastage and no compromise on quality is a tribute to skill and good management – and if it's publicised properly, it can bring more business.
If all you do is install partitions, you can't trumpet that all the time. But if you can showcase each example of your work in case studies, you can underline your installation brilliance endlessly. This means that you can continually be ‘in front of’ your potential customers so that when they need what you offer, you are already top of mind with them.
Having lots of case studies also helps to keep your website fresh and exciting, and gives you an excuse to use Twitter to drive people to each new entry (how did you find this blog?).
If you are Tweeting about walls, or any other subject, rekeep it professional – your company image is at stake!
If you are a busy installer you probably don't have the time or the inclination to develop case studies or other PR material. You'd do well to call in specialist help to identify news angles and exploit them editorially, so you get a fully professional product to match the high standards of your own work.
You could spend a fortune on PR, but you don't have to. Good PR these days is all about providing cost-effective solutions and value for money. You can make your walls really sexy at surprisingly little cost.
Contact me if you’d like to know more about making walls (or other products and services) sexy.
David Goddin was born in the UK and educated in South Africa. He began his career on daily newspapers and trade journals, before moving into public relations consulting. He produced award-winning writing and became an Accredited PR Practitioner, the highest qualification of the Public Relations Institute of South Africa. Since his return to the UK 17 years ago he has also contributed to a number of highly successful PR and marketing communications campaigns for major national and multinational clients. He is currently also President of the Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce.