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Robert Kravitz
PR/Communications Consultant for the Professional Building and Cleaning Industries
PR/Communications Consultant for the Professional Building and Cleaning Industries

Communities and Collections

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CVS Needed More Pharmacists...PR Made It Happen

Due to this increased competition for a limited number of pharmacists, in 2005 CVS decided to launch a PR campaign designed to recruit older pharmacists (those over 50) as well as pharmacists who had already retired. CVS believed this program would not only help it find new pharmacists but also bolster its commitment to the communities it served.

Not only was CVS satisfied with the results, but this PR campaign was essentially done on a shoestring budget. This shows that PR is not only powerful and effective, but when compared to many traditional marketing avenues, also considerably less expensive.

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The PR Takeaway

As manufacturers and other organizations continue to consider less costly alternatives to traditional advertising, one that invariably comes to the top of the list is PR.

But before discussing this further, we must clarify two things.

First, advertising still has power. For instance, many marketing professionals say that a new product launch must start with advertising and then, over time, be transferred over to PR. Advertising first gets the news out and then PR takes over, telling end-customers why this new gizmo is important to them, how it can help them lower costs, etc.

Secondly, and contrary to what many people think, PR does not mean “spin,” or putting a good face on an unfortunate situation, even if it means fudging on the truth. While I am sure this happens, in general today, PR is about telling the truth. Explaining a situation or clarifying a set of circumstances, with the goal of keeping an organization’s reputation intact.

So, now that we are clear what PR is not about, let’s discuss what PR is about. Among the key takeaways are the following:

If you read our blog about McDonald’s and how they took advantage of PR to build the company, then you learned how PR helps brand a company. Advertising can only do so much when it comes to branding. PR, on the other hand, helps create an image about an organization, in other words turn a company into a brand. What McDonald’s did, and was one of the first organizations to do this, was to show how the company gives back to the community through efforts like starting the Ronald McDonald House. Consumers liked this and soon liked McDonald’s all the more.

Getting the News Out:
Probably one of the most traditional forms of PR is simply getting the news out to editors and end customers. One of the goals of providing these items to editors is the hope that they will want more information, even an article about this story, written by a PR pro. However, press releases are not as powerful today as they once were. We must now be our own press release service, and the way we do this is by making sure our news is prominently posted on our company websites.

Reach the end-customer:
One of the benefits of PR is that it can tailor your message to the end customers you are trying to reach. A trade publication will have advertising from scores of different advertisers. But an article written by a PR professional and placed in a trade magazine – one that specifically focuses on your end-customer – is now talking directly to them. All the advertising clutter has been cut so your message can shine through.

Case Studies:
Today, most publications charge to post cases studies, however these are less expensive than regular ads. When a PR pro writes a case study, the objective is to first address an issue that many end-customers must grapple with. From here it shows how the situation has been handled – and handled successful – by your product or service. Once again, your company is talking directly to the people you are trying to reach.

This then leads to another key takeaway about PR. Let’s say several educational, how-to articles have been published in leading trade publications under your company byline and read by your end-customers. What’s happening is you and your company are now becoming thought leaders, and a household name. You and your firm have now established a personal relationship with the people that might select your products or services, and that is something no ad can ever do.

Robert Kravitz

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How PR Made McDonald’s

Although it has had its share of rocky times of late, no one will deny McDonald's has been an unbelievable success.

When it was started in 1955 by Chicago milkshake salesman, Ray Kroc, the company was struggling. Kroc had a small office in a less-than-appealing Chicago office building and decided not to pay himself a salary. A good idea, since there was not enough money coming in to do so.

At that time. Kroc had a vision of franchising McDonald’s throughout the Chicago area. Al Golin, a young, public relations professional, contacted Kroc, and together they set out to make it happen.

Kroc was so impressed with Golin and his small firm that he hired him for $500 a month, the equivalent of about $4500 today. Kroc and McDonald’s had to create a "trust bank," according to Golin, what we would call today, a "brand."

You create brands by telling a “story.” That’s what McDonald's did and with more than 35,000 franchises and after billions of hamburgers sold, it’s clear this story has certainly paid off.

Long before “cause marketing” and social responsibility were considerations, especially when it came to branding a company, Golin encouraged the McDonald’s Corporation to do things that would make it stand out and establish the company as a firm that gives back to the community. Among his suggestions were:

1.The creation of Ronald McDonald Houses. An entirely new concept, they were established so that the parents of seriously ill children that required treatment in distant hospitals would have a place to stay at minimal or no cost while the child was under treatment.

2. Start the McDonald’s All-American High School Basketball Games, which bring all-star boys and girls basketball teams from the U.S., and now Canada, to compete. Some say these games are what got women's basketball off the ground.

3. Encourage McDonald’s to play an active role in the Jerry Lewis Muscular Dystrophy Association Labor Day Telethon.

4. The creation of Hamburger University. This refers directly to the "trust bank" mentioned earlier. Golin wanted McDonald's customers to know that the young people working at their restaurants had been professionally taught to make hamburgers that were safe and healthy as well as inexpensive and good to eat. Among the key principles taught at Hamburger University was to anticipate crises. "Fix it before it breaks," was their favorite aphorism.

The steps Golin took went far beyond the usual press release used to promote a company or get editors to write about McDonald’s. What he did was to turn McDonald’s into a brand that told Americans:

• This is a worthy company
• It gives back to the community
• McDonald’s helps young people become professionals

These steps were effective and, by the 1970s, just about everyone in the U.S. had heard of McDonald’s and people throughout the country wanted to be a part of this success story and were buying franchises.

In his memoirs, Kroc wrote, "we would never have made it without [Golin's] help. We were immature amateurs with virtually no friends." He went on to say that Golin and his colleagues "deserve a lot of the credit for making McDonald's a household word."

There are several takeaways from this story. For instance, if Kroc couldn't even pay himself a salary, how was he going to pay for advertising, which was likely even more expensive at that time than it is today. Remember, the 1950s were the early years of the “golden age of advertising.” Everyone wanted to advertise at just about any cost. So, for Kroc, about the only option he had at that time was to turn to much more economical PR to get the word out about his firm.

Another thing to remember is, it’s usually less expensive, more powerful, and longer lasting to create a vision about a company using PR than advertising.

A company vision is typically something that is inspiring. It helps make customers, as well as their employees, feel good about a company. You create visions by telling a “story” about a company.

That’s what Golin helped to do with McDonald's. And today with more than 35,000 franchises and after billions of hamburgers sold, it’s clear this vision certainly paid off.

Robert Kravitz

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Turning Words into Sales…and creating a thought leader

The following is based on a published article is I wrote and serves as an example of content marketing. It shows how we tactfully promote one mat manufacture by turning the company into a top thought leader. It is how we turn words into sales.

Carpet Cleaners Learn About Floor Mats

Here’s the situation in a nutshell. You’re carpet cleaner and your commercial client has 20,000 square feet of carpeting. That carpeting costs $20.00 a square foot to purchase and install, which amounts to $400,000. Let’s say the facility manager has projected operating costs and plans to replace that carpet three times over the next 30 years. Assuming all costs stay the same, that means that the carpet will cost this manager’s facility $1.2 million dollars.

But let’s say that the carpet is not well cared for. Instead of being cleaned twice per year, it is cleaned every 18 months, more than enough time for soils and grit to work their way into carpet fibers, resulting in a reduced life span for the carpet. So instead of replacing the carpet three times in 30 years, we are now up to replacing the carpet five times in the same period, costing the facility $2 million. It does not take a math expert to figure out that this client could save $800,000 if she took better care of the facility’s carpet.

And that’s where you come in. In this scenario, our advice to this client would obviously be to have the carpets vacuumed frequently and cleaned every six months.* While this would technically be a cost for the client, ultimately carpet cleaning is an investment because it is helping the facility save hundreds of thousands of dollars in the long run. So along with advising the commercial client on the need for more frequent carpet cleaning, what other advice can you offer to help your client maintain this valuable asset?

The first thing you should do is make sure that the facility has installed high-performance mats at all key building entries. And you need to know why these should be installed. So to help you out, the following are some of the questions your commercial clients likely will ask you about mats, along with suggested ways to answer them.

What exactly do mats do?

Mats are designed to capture and trap soil and moisture before they enter a facility. According to the American Institute of Architects, 5 feet of matting will capture about a third of walked-in debris; 10 feet will capture 52 percent; 15 feet will capture as much as 80 percent; and 20 to 25 feet of matting can capture 100 percent of soil along with moisture found on shoe bottoms so that they never enter the facility. Some cleaning experts suggest that the bulk of soil in a facility is essentially walked in on shoe bottoms. And much of that soil will be deposited onto the facility’s carpets unless an effective matting system is in place.

While not specifically applicable to keeping carpets clean and healthy, we must note that another reason for installing mats is to provide a safe walking surface. As the mat captures and holds soil and moisture, it keeps floors drier and cleaner, which can help prevent a slip-and-fall accident.

Why should I install interior mats?

Interior mats should be installed over busy carpeted walkways, in and outside elevators, as well as at transition points—where a hard surface floor meets a carpeted floor. These interior mats help prevent dust from becoming airborne as well as finding its way into carpet fibers. Interior mats help catch spills and prevent soil from one floor area being walked into another area of a facility. They should also be placed in food service areas or where coffee machines, copy machines, and vending machines are installed, for the same reasons. In short, interior mats help keep carpets cleaner.

What is the life expectancy of a mat?

The types of mats recommended for a facility to keep it cleaner and help protect carpet are high-performance mats. These are higher-quality mats that normally must be purchased, not rented. The life spans can vary due to a variety of reasons, most specifically the amount of foot traffic and climate conditions, but a high-performance mat should have a warranty of one or more years. As with the carpet, if the mat is vacuumed frequently and cleaned (extracted) regularly, its life span will be extended as well.

What do the terms “scrape,” “wipe,” and “crush” refer to?

These are actually “ratings” that apply to different mats installed in different settings. A facility such as a large office building may have different matting needs than those of a small hotel or retail outlet. A facility with heavier foot traffic would require a mat with higher scrape and wipe abilities. “Crush” refers to crush resistance. Some mats can “crush out” in as little as 30 days, essentially rendering the mat useless. This typically happens with a rental mat or when the mat is not designed to handle the heavy foot traffic it is receiving.

There are many types of mats that help protect carpet and enhance its life span, and as your client’s carpet care adviser, you should be aware of all of them . But let us conclude with something important that was referenced earlier: along with frequent vacuuming, mats should be cleaned regularly using the extraction method. Some high-performance mats are bi-level mats, meaning soil and moisture collect under the surface of the mat so they do not come in contact with shoe bottoms. The only way to remove this soil is with regular carpet extraction.

Byline Note: The byline is very important. The goal of this article, in addition to turning words into sales, is to make the manufacturer of these products a thought leader in the industry. We do this in the byline.

Mr. Joe Smith is marketing manager for Mat Manufacturing Company, one of the oldest and one of the largest matting manufacturers in North America. He can be reached via his company website at

Sidebar: What is a Thought Leader:

The term thought leader was first coined about 20 years ago, in a business magazine for technology consultants. The publication said a thought leader refers to those worth talking to and listening to.

The term encompasses leaders in small and large businesses and organizations. When it comes to marketing, Forbes, says top thought leaders are people “capitalizing on the dramatically enhanced brand equity attained by being a thought leader.”

Find out more about turning words into sales. Contact us at

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