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.

WHY PR?

The value of public relations rests in its differentiation from advertising. Ads are trying to sell goods or services. So, automatically, the audience views them as such. By contrast, PR activities are informational and educational. In short, when they are done right, they are news. When communications messages are not a straight-up sales pitch, audiences are much more open to them.

There’s also something to be said for being a subject matter expert in your market. Again, if you are educating prospective customers on a topic that they are interested in, the idea is that they will naturally draw a connection to you and your business. For instance, work with local media on a laundry topic, like stain removal. The audience will be made aware of you and your business and, hopefully, pay you a visit, because nobody knows more about removing stains.

STARTING POINT

Press releases are the foundation of PR activities. Think of them as your company’s way of saying, “Hello, community, here’s something we think you might want to know about.” Obviously, your laundry’s grand opening is tailor-made for using a press release and offers a real opportunity for being picked up. The difference between success and failure of your release is being able to think like a member of the media and deliver the five Ws – who, what, when, where and why.

Each press release should prominently feature that information. But you also want to do more. The more “news value” you can give, the better your chances for success. This is where you highlight things that are new and not what many might think of when they picture a Laundromat. Features such as mobile payment, extra-large equipment capacity, rewards programs, fast cycles (in and out in less than an hour), touchscreen controls and other technology are great pieces to include. Any unique amenities? Yup, include them.

Cite the special activities planned: live music, food truck, giveaways. All these elements help add up to a strong case that your opening is news.

Of course, all the basics apply – check your spelling, and ensure that you add your contact information in the event media has questions or, even better, wants to come out and cover the event. If they can’t make it, offer to shoot a few photos for a post grand-opening article.

Check back Tuesday for the conclusion!