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Friday, December 14, 2007

Promote Your Professionalism!

Winter Publicity Tips

If you’re looking to promote the professional image of your towing company, Mother Nature is your ally. Right now, many parts of the country are dealing with mounds of snow and layers of ice that make driving treacherous – and tow truck companies super busy.

It’s an ideal time to tell the story of your hardworking employees who are out there for hours on end in the cold. Let your community know how your company is rescuing stranded motorists, jumpstarting cars with dead batteries and unlocking cars that people have left running to warm up.

Today, I (and several thousand others) received a daily e-newsletter for journalists called “Al’s Morning Meeting.” Al Tompkins, the broadcast/online group leader for Poynter Online, listed a number of great ideas for news people covering winter storms.

Tompkins included tips from Tom Linder, news director at KARE-11 TV in Minneapolis, MN. Here’s one:

“Go to the impound lot. One way to do this story is to hang a wireless mic on the person working at the impound lot who has to suffer the abuse of people whose cars have been towed because they parked on snow routes. The people who show up to claim their cars have had to find a way to get to the lot. In Minneapolis, they have to pay nearly $175 in penalties and towing charges. On top of that, there could be impound fees. The people who pay these fees are not happy. Some people just do not hear about approaching storms, despite extensive media coverage, so they don't move their cars from snow plow routes.”

Talk about an easy and no-cost way to get some attention for your company! Call your local news stations. Extend the invitation to a reporter to come out to your office and put a mic on your car release person. Offer to let a reporter work the release desk and experience a day in your shoes.

There may even be a reporter in your area who already goes out and does someone’s regular job for the day. Offer to have him or her ride with you or your top driver to see the variety of work, from winch-outs to wrecks and everything in between, which occurs in one snowy day.

Here’s another tip that Linder offered to fellow news people:

“Consider packaging a bunch of user-generated videos into one showcased story. This is especially useful when you are short on photojournalists because they are out on live shots or snow duty. Do your best to verify who sent the videos; verify that the videos are legitimate. Give the contributors credit. Tell the story of the people who bothered to send it to you.”

Do your operators carry the latest and greatest phones that shoot pictures and video? Put them to good use! Email pictures and videos of events that your drivers see while out on the road in the snow all day. Make sure to include all of your contact information so the news people can verify the contributions and attribute them accurately. I love his last line: “Tell the story of the people who bothered to send it to you.” Let them tell your story!

Journalists are looking for stories now, so be available when they call. Make sure your office people know that they can give out your cell phone number to news people. You may be really busy now, but you need to make the time to grab a great opportunity for some positive and free publicity.

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