July, 2007
Good Buzz
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



A New Direction for ASHI's Public Relations: VERTICAL

SANDY BOURSEAU

Manning Salvage and Lee (MS&L) is ASHI’s public relations representative. The firm recently submitted a proposal to the ASHI Board of Directors to target a different audience for the next several months — an audience that would help build ASHI membership. The board accepted the vertical-approach proposal, outlined as follows.

MS&L reported that consumer media continues to recognize the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI) as the authority when it comes to the home inspection industry. With the current decline in real estate transactions resulting in fewer pre-listing and pre-purchase home inspections, newly established home inspectors are struggling to stay in business and established home inspectors have experienced a slowdown. The “burst” of the housing bubble has also negatively affected other various building trades, meaning fewer projects and less income. Therefore, MS&L believes the time is right to refocus some of its public relations efforts to reach home inspectors and professionals in allied trade industries to position ASHI membership as a career advancement opportunity. To build ASHI membership with this new vertical PR focus, MS&L is doing the following.  

ASHI outreach to allied trade publications
(May-June)

By reaching out to vertical trade outlets, MS&L hopes to engage building industry professionals in a conversation that establishes a better understanding of the home inspection profession and the benefits of becoming an ASHI member.

Using the recent change in ASHI membership categories as a platform, MS&L drafted and distributed the news release, “Time to inspect your career path? American Society of Home Inspectors says yes.” The release was distributed to vertical trade outlets such as Builder, Home Channel News, Journal of Light Construction, Professional Remodeler, Qualified Remodeler and Remodeling Today.

ASHI membership was highlighted as a valuable tool to these professionals, as they will have access to the Society’s vast resources, including:
  • ASHI logo, which consumers recognize as a symbol for quality
  • ASHI Web site
  • ASHI publications, including the ASHI Reporter
  • ASHI legislative action center
  • Downloadable advertising templates
MS&L conducted targeted follow-up calls to encourage placement.

Furthermore, as this issue of the ASHI Reporter went to press, MS&L planned to draft and distribute a subsequent press release in June to introduce ASHI’s new Smart Track program to the above-mentioned vertical trade outlets.

Content of this release was to include an overview of the Smart Track program and the ways in which the program accelerates the process of becoming an ASHI Certified Inspector, while maintaining ASHI’s Standards of Practice and Code of Ethics.

It provided detailed information about each of the Smart Track program’s components, including:
  • Home inspector pretest
  • Online learning
  • Parallel inspection mentoring program
  • Links to additional resources
Again, MS&L planned to conduct targeted follow-up calls to encourage placement.

Local Trade Editors’ Breakfast (September)

In addition to press releases, MS&L is planning an editors’ breakfast. A handful of the above-mentioned trade outlets are located in and around Des Plaines, Ill., where ASHI is headquartered. Such proximity provides an opportunity to host a centrally located editors’ breakfast with Contractor, Professional Remodeler, Qualified Remodeler and Structural Engineer to fortify relationships and gain insight into upcoming articles.
Similar to lunch n’ learn sessions MS&L has facilitated in the past, this local trade editors’ breakfast will include the following:
  • A brief introduction of ASHI and its membership
  • An overview of the state of the housing and home inspection industries
  • A discussion about the benefits of becoming an ASHI member as a second career option or anopportunity for building industry professionals to broaden their knowledge base
  • An overview of ASHI’s membership categories and an explanation of the Smart Track program
  • Q&A
If, after initial soft-sounding and further research, it is determined a one-to-one approach is better suited to the objective, MS&L will instead set up deskside appointments with individual editors, provide materials (press kits), follow up and confirm appointments, and accompany Frank Lesh to the meetings.

April and May Highlights from MS&L

KOMO-TV
– MS&L coordinated an interview between Frank Lesh and Herb Weisbaum, a reporter for KOMO-TV in Seattle, Wash., on May 9. The interview focused on how consumers can identify a qualified home inspector, what sets ASHI Certified Inspectors apart from other home inspectors and what consumers can expect from a standard home inspection. Results: The segment aired May 13 and identified the dangers of choosing the wrong home inspector. Streaming video of the segment and a link to ASHI.org are available on the station’s Web site. 

Good Morning America (GMA)
– MS&L responded to GMA producer Alexa Miranda following the segment that ran on May 1 highlighting fraudulent code inspectors. The segment misused and confused the terms code inspector and home inspector. Results: MS&L drafted and submitted a response via fax and by U.S. mail on May 11. Response pending.

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review – MS&L provided a photo of ASHI BOD Member Brendan Ryan to Howard McClellan at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review for an article announcing Mr. Ryan’s recent appointment. Results: Article ran April 8.

TheStreet.com – MS&L coordinated an interview for Allison Bisbey Colter, personal finance editor at TheStreet.com, with Frank Lesh about home inspections as they relate to home maintenance and repair. Results: Frank Lesh was quoted in the article, which ran April 13.

Deanna Michaud – MS&L provided current home inspection industry data for a revised copy of Entrepreneur Magazine’s Start Your Home Inspection Service book. Results: ASHI will be referenced in the book and the above-mentioned data will be attributed to
the society.

NewsProNet –
MS&L coordinated a shoot for a nationally syndicated TV segment with Frank Lesh in Indian Head Park, Ill. the week of March 5. Results: To date, the segment has appeared on the stations listed below. MS&L will continue to monitor for pickup and
provide final segment-run results.

KABC (ABC) Los Angeles –
5 a.m., 7:30 a.m. and 11 p.m. newscasts

WCBS (CBS) New York
– 5 p.m. newscast

WFBS (Independent) Miami/Ft. Lauderdale
– 8 a.m. newscast

WFOR (CBS) Miami/Ft. Lauderdale –
6:30 a.m. newscast

KGTV (ABC) San Diego –
11 a.m. and 5 p.m. newscast

WJXT (IND) Jacksonville/Brunswick –
10 p.m. newscast

KTRK (ABC) Houston –
4 p.m. newscast

KEYE (CBS) Austin –
4 p.m. newscast

KPTV (FOX) Portland –
5 p.m. newscast

Mold and Moisture Management Magazine
– MS&L coordinated an interview between Frank Lesh and Megan Headley of Mold and Moisture Management. She was working on an article about how home inspectors handle mold. Specifically, she was interested in whether ASHI has a policy on how home inspectors should handle mold problems. Results: The article ran in the June issue.

Washington Post –
MS&L coordinated an interview between Frank Lesh and Dina Elboughdady of the Washington Post. Dina was working on a story on the life expectancy of individual areas of a home and wanted to talk with Frank about what homeowners/buyers are most interested in when it comes to updating their homes. Results: The article ran on May 5.

Monthly press release – MS&L drafted and distributed the press release “What’s lurking in your home: ASHI reveals this year’s top home inspection D-I-Y disasters.” The release was distributed to real estate and consumer interest reporters at daily and community newspapers, syndicated writers, freelancers and trades. Results: To date, the release has been picked up by the Chicago Tribune and the following publications have requested high-resolution photographs: Broker Agent Magazine, Chicago Agent Magazine, Home Channel News, Miami Agent Magazine, Sarasota Herald-Tribune and Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce.