April, 2008
Good Buzz
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



ASHI: The Go-To Source

SANDY BOURSEAU

Since its early years, ASHI has focused on using public relations rather than advertising to put its name and credentials before the public. Positive media coverage has been shown to influence consumers more than paid advertising because it is perceived as more objective — more credible. In addition to credibility, for ASHI there’s the cost factor.

A yearlong public relations campaign, garnering thousands of opportunities to put the ASHI message before a variety of audiences, costs less than a handful of industry or consumer ads. For example, a ½-page ad in one major metropolitan newspaper for two days costs as much as a month of public relations activities. Three full-page ads in the major real estate industry publication would cost more than the entire year’s public relations campaign, complete with its media tour, development and placement of press releases through its extensive contact list, answering media requests for interviews with ASHI representatives, coordinating with state and federal legislative activities and more. Years of aggressive public relations activities have established ASHI as the go-to source for home inspection information and has done so cost-effectively.

The service provided by MS&L, ASHI’s public relations consulting firm, allows the society to promote the profession, the society and, most of all, ASHI members nationwide to consumers and to others in the real estate industry. Each month, ASHI officers, directors, members of the public relations committee, chapter public relations representatives and the entire ASHI membership receive a report of recent public relations activities. The report is distributed with the First Thing leadership e-newsletter and illustrates what we mean when we say ASHI is the media’s go-to source for home inspection information.
Here are some highlights from recent reports:

  • ASHI’s White Paper release, “Best and Worst Places for Home Inspection: ASHI reveals its 2007 state rankings,” had garnered more than 3 million media impressions through 43 print and online placements within 30 days of its release.

Major outlets that covered the White Paper release include the following:

  • Associated Press
  • Los Angeles Times
  • San Antonio Express-News
  • Houston Chronicle
  • Baton Rouge Advocate
  • Realty Times
  • AOL.com

Additional print coverage is expected in various regional Realtor® publications and local business publications, including Business Journal Phoenix, New Mexico Business Weekly and Pacific Business News. Reporters from the following publications spoke with Bob Kociolek, ASHI director of legislative affairs & chapter relations, about the White Paper:

  • Daily Reporter (Columbus, Ohio) – Melony McEntire
  • The Morning Call (Allentown, Penn.) –Beth Orenstein
  • Realty Times –Phoebe Chongchua’s article ran Jan. 11.
  • Daily Business Review – Terry Sheridan
  • Banker and Tradesman –Aglaia Pikounis

Reporters from additional publications spoke with MS&L about the release:

  • Boston Globe – Kimberly Blanton
  • Palm Beach Post –Linda Rawls
  • Texas Realtor –Marty Kramer
  • Business Report (Baton Rouge) –Tim Boone
  • KOB-TV (NBC Albuquerque) – Kate Groller’s segment aired on Jan. 4

Although the White Paper created a buzz, it wasn’t the only topic of interest to the media. Here are some of the requests MS&L received and handled during the same time period:

The News Tribune (Tacoma, Wash.) – Devona Wells was working on a story about pending home inspection regulation in Washington state. MS&L forwarded her statistics on home inspection and arranged for her to speak with Bob Kociolek, ASHI director of legislation and chapter relations, who in turn arranged for her to speak with ASHI Certified Inspector Hugh Kelso. Kelso was quoted in the piece, which ran on Feb. 6.

Smart Money Magazine – Immediate Past-president Frank Lesh responded to requests from two of the magazine’s reporters. Jason Kephart was writing a piece that focused on mandatory inspections and disclosure laws, and Brad Reagan was authoring a piece about decks and was interested in talking with an ASHI Certified Inspector about common flaws and maintenance issues.

Planet Newsletter – Chris Tanseer at Planet Newsletter inquired about reprint rights for a release that ASHI issued on the top 10 home inspection problems. The article ran in January.

Homeport Magazine – Jennifer Gill interviewed Frank Lesh for an article she was writing on home inspection.
The Everything Home Buying Book – Author Piper Nichole requested that ASHI President Brion Grant provide edits to the chapter on home inspection. 

No More Home Repair Rip-Offs Book –  MS&L received a second call from Tom Philbin, a freelance writer and author who is working on a book titled “No More Home Repair Rip-Offs.” Tom had some additional questions for Brion Grant.

The Money Pit
– Sheetal Wernke, the producer of Money Pit, confirmed March 29 as the run date of the radio interview that was conducted with Frank Lesh in December 2007.

Press releases continue to roll out

On Feb. 7, MS&L distributed “Home Inspectors Add Value in a Down Market” to contacts at daily newspapers, syndicates and trade magazines.

 On Feb. 11, MS&L distributed new ASHI officer releases to appropriate local outlets.

On Feb. 18, ASHI award winner releases were posted on ASHI’s Intranet.

On March 4, MS&L distributed “Home Maintenance Guidelines: ASHI Provides Tips for Homeowners in Every Region” to daily newspapers, syndicates and trade magazines.

Coming soon …

The third annual Postcards from the Field DIY Disasters release will be distributed to contacts at daily newspapers, syndicates, trade magazines and via the wire.

The executive director announcement release will be distributed to select local and national contacts.  

Trends research – MS&L continues to research and analyze data from the real estate industry that will be used to develop targeted releases for the upcoming year and will continue to monitor industry publications for news, events and possible PR opportunities.

All current and past press releases are posted on the ASHI Web site in the media section, and ASHI members are encouraged to adapt and use them for their own public relations efforts. Skeleton press releases also are available to all ASHI members on www.homeinspector.org under PR tools in the ASHI Chapter Leader CD section.

ASHI Members in the Media

ASHI Certified Inspector Scott Ternasky, Loveland, Colo., reports he was filmed for an episode of HGTV’s My First Place. The program airs on Mondays at 11:30 p.m. and features HGTV design experts offering creative solutions to practical problems for first-time homeowners.

ASHI member Donald Doty of Wayzata, Minn. was seen on the TLC show “My First Home.” Despite the similar title, this program takes a different approach. It describes itself as “stepping into the lives of wanna-be buyers as they deal with the disappointments, anxieties and hopes of finding and buying their first home.” Home inspections are mentioned as one of the integral steps in the process. 

ASHI Certified Inspector Don A. Nelson was quoted in the “First Impressions” article, published in the Your Place section of the Chicago Tribune, on March 6. He was identified as the president of Nelson & Son Building Inspections Ltd. in Northbrook and a member of the Great Lakes Chapter of the American Society of Home Inspectors.

Please share news of ASHI members appearing in the media with headquarters. E-mail sandyb@ashi.org.