November, 2004
Feature
Inspection News and Views from the American Society of Home Inspectors



The Effective News Release

EDITED BY ASHI STAFF

The news release is one of the basic communication tools of public relations. Like the news items you read in a newspaper, a well-written news release gives the reader the “who, what, where, when and why” of your event. The media rely on news releases to provide them with information on events and activities about which they have no other means of knowing. It is up to you to get the news out.

  • Contact Information: The release must include your name or the name of someone else who can provide additional information, along with a phone number (preferred) or e-mail address. Also, if additional information is available on a Web site, be sure to include the Internet address.
  • When to send: The release can be sent at any time if the news it contains is not tied to a specific time frame. If it is, then send the release two to three weeks prior to the designated event time frame, such as the specific date or the start of a season.
  • The next step:  Follow up by phone with the media contact the same week the release is sent. Make sure the reporter or editor received your release and offer to give more information.
  • The extra step: If you have a special angle – or something that gives a local tie-in to an otherwise national story – add that information to the press release. It will increase your placement chances. An example would be a local chapter member who was elected to the ASHI national board of directors or an officer position. Or you can create a local angle by customizing a national release to your area, such as a release on seasonal home maintenance. Depending on your climate or geographic area, your tips will be different.
Chapter leaders can now view news releases distributed by ASHI’s Public Relations Counsel, Publicis Dialog, in the Media section of ashi.org. These pieces are posted at a rate of about one per month.

We encourage you to copy the news releases and forward them to home and real estate editors in your area. Some releases on the Chapter CD are fill-in-the-blank template releases that can be customized with local information. Nevertheless, any release distributed nationally can be replicated at the local level with few revisions necessary to give it a personalized feel.

See the sample letter for an idea of what might be sent to your local media
contact.

These tools and more on ashi.org

All of the following PR tools are available at www.ashi.org/members/experience/
chapterCD.asp and on The ASHI Experience Chapter CD:

• ASHI News Release Letterhead Template

• Skeleton Press Releases for Local Chapters:

— Local Chapter Working with Realtors
— Resource for Finding Experienced Home Inspector
— Educational Conference Announcement
— ASHI Candidates Awarded Full Member Status
— Chapter Meeting Announcements

• Selected National Releases For Local Chapter Use:

— ASHI Regulation Position Statement
— Deck Inspection Crisis Communications
— Homebuyers Survey
— Pre-Winter Home Review
— Air Conditioning Check
— Condo Buyers
— Energy Efficiency
— Mold Inspection
— Remodeling Inspection

• Media and Marketing Guide for Local Chapters

— ASHI Publicity Guide
— Media List Order Form - PDF
— Chapter PR Contact Form - PDF 

Top Public Relations Tips


Get Involved in Your Community
•  Network with affiliated groups:

— Realtor and builder associations

•  Participate in community charitable causes:

— “Rebuilding Together” (formerly Christmas in April),
“Habitat for Humanity”;

— Fundraising drives for local charities such as American Red Cross, American Heart Association, American Cancer Society;

— Donate an inspection for a PBS telethon (and maybe get interviewed on-air) or for a silent auction.

Develop Relationships with Media Contacts…become the local expert


•  Identify and reach out to local broadcast and print media, especially real estate and “home” writers and editors.

•  Become the expert resource they turn to when writing or producing a story on home issues.

•  Capitalize on the home improvement craze;

—  DIY radio and TV shows and columnists;

—  Offer your expert advice on maintenance tips and warning signs;

—  Become a columnist or host yourself.

Be Proactive with the Local Media

•  Don’t wait for media to call you; build relationships and keep your name in front of them (via press releases) so they think of you first

•  Suggest story ideas based on seasonal press releases and community events

Mine the ASHI PR Calendar

Look for seasonal story ideas and create your own customized versions of template press releases to the local media (this helps to further position you as the industry expert). We created the following calendar for your convenience.

A PUBLIC RELATIONS CALENDAR

Following are some ideas that are meant not only to be a guide for public relations activities, but also to spark additional ideas that may work well in your community. Many of these are included in the Chapter CD as template press releases. Others will be distributed during the year by national. Feel free to redistribute and customize any national releases to your local region – they are your tools to use!

  • January:  Winter maintenance tips, Attendance at InspectionWorld, New Officer announcements
  • March: Spring cleaning and home repairs
  • April: Home Inspection Month, Tips on selecting a home inspector
  • May: Beginning of home buying and selling season
  • June: Air conditioning maintenance tips
  • July: Summer maintenance tips
  • August: Locating a home inspector
  • September: Back-to-school and preparing for winter
  • October: Halloween and safety tips, exterior hazards
  • November: Tips on energy efficiency
  • December: Safety for the holidays