Ever thought of hiring a public relations intern? You may be investing heavily in broadcast, print or online advertising. That’s paid media, but you could be missing out on many opportunities in the “earned” media space. Public relations takes time ─ researching media contacts, building relationships, developing pitches. But an effective public relations effort can help you gain more than just awareness ─ you can position your company and people as the leading experts and help educate your audience.
American Pest Management, based in Manhattan, Kan., decided to take a chance on hiring an intern to help do just that. Last fall, American Pest Management hired a senior from Rockhurst University who had some great experience in public relations. The staff members shared with her some of the ideas, and together they created a plan. One of their top objectives was to reach out to a local home improvement and gardening expert with a large following in the area. Toby Tobin has a call-in radio show every Saturday morning on a popular AM radio station in Kansas City. The intern put together a pitch and reached out to Tobin. He was skeptical at first, but he was willing to meet with a representative from American Pest Management. She arranged the meeting and put together some key talking points for Travis Aggson, vice president and designated spokesperson. The meeting went well, and Tobin invited Aggson to be a guest on the show during National Termite Awareness Week.
During his appearance on the show, nearly 20 minutes of one segment was dedicated to discussing termites, their biology, the damage they cause and how Sentricon can help protect listeners’ homes. Aggson also had the opportunity to take calls from listeners and answer questions about general pest control as well as termite control.
This initial guest spot led to a second appearance during a remote broadcast from a local hardware chain, where American Pest Management was able to meet potential customers and gather leads.
“And it snowballed from there,” says Zach Morehead, Sentricon sales representative in the Kansas market. “Toby invited American Pest Management to come out and take a look at his home to give him an estimate for installing Sentricon. The installation was then filmed for a segment called “Tips from Toby,” which appears weekly on the local NBC affiliate news program.
The segment also was uploaded to Tobin’s website for further reach and exposure for American Pest Management. In addition, Aggson has become a regular guest panelist on the radio program, joining Tobin on the air throughout the year to discuss a wide variety of pest control issues. The exposure gained from these appearances has directly led to a big bump in leads and installations of Sentricon in the Kansas City market for American Pest Management.
An intern may just be the spark you need to jump start an effective public relations effort.