Don’t miss the opportunity to leapfrog competition

Julie Moulsdale

Public Relations expert, Julie Moulsdale, explains why construction firms should make the most of the many opportunities that exist to raise their profile.

THE Scottish construction industry is finally in recovery after a few very difficult years, and some great things are being achieved – so why are construction companies so reluctant to blow their own trumpets?

Construction is a competitive industry, so marketing should be pretty high up on your agenda. As well as trying to win new business, companies are facing the challenge of enticing suitably skilled workers back into the industry or indeed from competitors.

To get the best employees, you should be showing off your company as somewhere fantastic to work.

Our experience of working with dozens of organisations in the construction sector shows that a regular stream of good news about an organisation not only raises profile among important audiences, but also attracts new customers and employees. This drumbeat of positive news can be delivered through traditional media such as newspaper and magazine articles in business or trade press and through social media.

Having a good online presence including an up to date blog on your website is also very effective in keeping target audiences up to date as well as helping secure a top slot when potential customers or employees are searching for your organisation on Google.

Take, for example, the weekly blog post that we write for our clients, City Legacy, developers of the Athletes’ Village.  Not only did the content of these blog posts quickly accelerate their website position on the Google rankings to the page one slot, but the blog posts have also attracted the most visitors to the website – demonstrating that people have a voracious appetite to consume up-to-date information in bite-sized chunks.

A well-designed, informative website is an absolute must, but even if yours is top-notch, it doesn’t offer the opportunity that social media does to engage directly with customers in the way they now expect.

Many organisations run scared of social media, worried about online criticism and the time it would take to respond to it. But online interactions are significantly more cost-efficient than dealing with an irate customer on the phone or face-to-face.  From a PR point of view, a complaint on social media is also easier to respond to than the traditional moan to the local newspaper, as you have instant (and unedited) right of reply.

All Scottish local authorities are active on Twitter, and all but a few on Facebook. West Lothian Council is leading the way – take a look at how they use their Facebook page like a local newspaper, telling their 30,000 strong audience about interesting local stories in amongst latest council news. Kier Group do the same on Twitter, posting good news about their company and engaging with their customers, but also re-tweeting related news and information. This mix is the secret of social media success.

Top tips for promoting your company effectively:

• If you’ve done something great, like winning an award or a new contract, tell people about it! If you have a marketing or communications team, keep them informed. If you don’t, consider engaging a PR agency – preferably one with social media experience and a track record in the industry.

• Even if you are not on social media personally, consider a social media presence for your company.  Are your customers on LinkedIn for example?  If they are and you are not, you are cutting off a great channel of communication. And you are leaving this open to your competitors.

• Exploit LinkedIn – ensure all your employees have a good LinkedIn profile with a photograph and ensure you have a company page that is regularly updated. A personal profile LinkedIn is usually one of the first items to appear on a Google search so use this to make a good first impression.

• If you have a “News” section or blog on your website, make sure it is frequently updated. What message is sent if a news page’s top story is six months old?

• Enter industry awards. Winning is a great way to get noticed and awards events are a good place to meet industry movers and shakers.

• A regular comment in construction is not wanting to stick your head above the parapet.  But if done well, a steady stream of positive news about your organisation creates goodwill in the bank of reputation.  This is not bragging or boasting – simply sharing an accurate picture of what your business is really up to amongst customers, employees, not to mention potential customers and employees