Topics: Public Relations Branding And Positioning

A Little Known Secret to Getting Free Publicity

Picture of Chris Heiler Author: Chris Heiler

oppositesWhen I was younger, and a bit more naive, I questioned why politicians focused on attacking their opponents. While watching Meet the Press, I would find myself yelling at the television, "Can you just tell me what the hell you stand for and what you plan to do exactly!"

I know, that's asking a lot from a politician.

There is a very good reason for this "attack-mode" strategy. I'll come back to it in a moment.

Think back to January of 2004 when Howard Dean was the early front-runner for the 2004 Democratic presidential nomination. Not two years earlier Dean was considered a long shot candidate.

How did he move from a long shot to front runner? Dean began his campaign by opposing the U.S. plan to invade Iraq. He openly criticized fellow Democrats who were either neutral or supportive of the plan.

The media embraced this polarizing opposition within his party and Dean quickly moved to the front of the pack.

Of course, this same media ended his hopes of becoming the party's presidential nominee just as quickly by replaying his "I have a scream speech" over 600 times in the four days following his speech in Des Moines.


Controversy: The key to getting free publicity

"What you stand for is not news. What you're against is what makes news. Being against an idea or concept is an equity that can be translated into publicity coverage." Jack Trout, Repositioning

Politicians garner headlines and face time because of what they are against, not because of what they stand for. Howard Dean was a media darling because he was against the plan to invade Iraq.

Politicians seldom speak about what they stand for because it rarely translates into front page news.

Editors and publishers encourage controversy. Readers and viewers love it. Controversy sells, Baby!

Dean's star fell just as quickly as it had risen. Not because of what he stood for but because of the controversy surrounding the "Dean Scream".


What the landscaping industry can learn from "Eco-Sprinkling"

Greg Winchel is sitting on a public relations gold mine.

Greg is the owner of Winchel Irrigation, based in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Recently, Greg trademarked the word "Eco-Sprinkling" which his company uses to describe their irrigation services.

How can Greg turn this word into free publicity for his company? What would Howard Dean do if he were in Greg's shoes? He would make it very clear to the media what he is opposed to, not what his company stands for.

So, what does Winchel Irrigation and "Eco-Sprinkling" stand for and against? Let's take a look: 

Winchel Irrigation and Eco-Sprinkling
weather-based irrigation controls conventional timers
water-efficient sprinklers conventional sprinklers
drip irrigation in landscape beds spray heads in beds
minimal water wasted wastefulness
regulating water based on individual plant requirements "one size fits all"
more attention to microclimates on site "what's a microclimate?"

Greg could turn each of these six ideas he is against into free publicity for Winchel Irrigation. (My suggestion would be to turn this into a compelling infographic that could be shared with local media, local bloggers and industry media and influencers. The media would love a visual like this.) 

Let's consider "wastefulness" as an example. What is Greg against exactly? He's against overspray on sidewalks, driveways and streets for one. He's against sprinkler systems that run while raining. He's against systems that run too frequently. 

Greg could execute an effective public relations campaign around any one of these "wasteful" ideas. How about this--"A campaign to end overspray in our streets". This may sound silly, but the local media would eat it up. 

What does a landscape maintenance company specializing in "organic" lawn care stand for? What are they against?

What does a landscape architecture firm preaching "sustainability" stand for? What are they against? 

The media is not interested in what you stand for. By demonstrating what you are against, you will more easily capture the media's attention and greatly increase your opportunities for free publicity. 

What does your company stand for? What are you against? Think about it. How can you turn this into free publicity and good PR for your company? Share your thoughts below. And if you enjoyed this post, please share it with your followers on Twitter.

image source: Felix Francis

Public relations and content marketing go hand in hand. Download our FREE workbook, "Create a Compelling Content Plan & Editorial Calendar" and give your PR some punch!

Picture of Chris Heiler

About Chris Heiler

Chris is the founder and CEO of Landscape Leadership. He has been in the green industry for over 20 years. Aside from leading the team at Landscape Leadership he enjoys speaking at green industry events across the country sharing his insights on marketing and sales. Chris now lives in Austin, TX, a transplant from the midwest and the great state of Michigan.

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