RIPON, Wis. — You get what you pay for. Nothing good is ever free. If it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
We’ve all heard those adages, and, for the most part they hold true. But like anything, there are exceptions to the rule. Public relations—PR—is one of them. In most cases, PR activities carry far more weight than traditional advertising efforts. And they’re free, which is even better.
So, what’s all this PR talk have to do with vended laundries? Public relations is great if you’re a company the size of Alliance Laundry Systems, but a small Laundromat business? That’s another misconception around PR, as many assume it’s strictly a corporate endeavor. Not so. Heck, it even has the word “public” in the name. Bottom line: With the right approach, Laundromat owners can have success in PR activities, and they should include it as part of the marketing toolbox.
If you’ve been open for a year or two, that doesn’t mean your PR efforts need to stop. Simply keeping an eye on current events can present opportunities to get you and your business back in your local media. The concept is called “localizing,” or taking a larger national story and making it local.
The past year of COVID-19 is a prime example. With Laundromats earning “essential business” status, you could reach out to media with a pitch on what you are doing to keep customers safe and provide this essential service. If your laundry programmed new “sanitize” cycles, there’s another opportunity. There’s a change shortage and your laundry offers cashless or mobile pay. That’s news tip or press release material, for sure.
Are you giving back to the community in some way? Hosting a kid’s coloring contest? Philanthropic activities and contests are always great content for press releases or a call to media. Don’t forget that announcing the activity is only half the task. Follow up with a photo of the winner or donation or whatever. The follow-up photo is another opportunity to reinforce your brand and activities, and media loves to have this content to fill in during slow news days.
Staging unique events can also bring publicity and media coverage for your laundry. I’ve seen art shows and singles nights in the laundry garner media coverage. Think unique and outside the box and then let the media in on the secret. Of course, don’t forget to execute it at a high level. And make sure these activities are on-brand for your laundry.
There’s a fine line between building solid relationships with local media and pestering editors/reporters. When you reach out, make sure what you have to share is truly newsworthy. If you are contacting media folks every other week, you’re likely doing it wrong and they’ll start ducking your calls. Don’t cry “new wolf” or they won’t cover you when the actual news shows up. Believe me, when I was on the media side of things, I dealt with PR folks who felt everything they sent over was worthy of a front-page feature. Spoiler alert: nope, it’s not.
Whenever possible, avoid sending pitches or press releases to general “[email protected]” emails. Do your best to identify a specific reporter covering the most appropriate beat. If you use your contacts sparingly and only when you have a solid lead, the relationship can become mutually beneficial.
It makes sense to repeat that, when you’re engineering a press release, make sure it’s well written, with the news up front and quickly digestible. Editorial offices are busy environments; if you make an editor or reporter wade through a giant email preamble or rambling press release, it will likely find the recycle bin.
Equipment upgrades, new services, unique amenities or events — all are great ideas to reach out to press with. Like most elements of your Laundromat business, the best results come from having a solid plan and working through the details. Figure out ways to become a laundry expert and go-to resource for local media.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking PR is something that’s reserved for large corporations and requires a full-time position. With a little effort and attention to detail, you might be surprised by the success you can have in getting publicity for your business.
Miss Part 1? You can read it HERE.