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Association Marketing and Branding Efforts Focus Largely on Public Relations

For the past two years, the CFA has put tremendous focus on public relations efforts. Lacking the vast resources and dollars needed to embark on a national advertising campaign, your Association Board opted to build the awareness of cast-in-place concrete foundations through the PR vehicle and take advantage of the third-party credibility achieved with this marketing tactic. CFA Initiatives have resulted in feature articles ranging from concrete cracking and the Basement of the Year competition to safe basement space and codes; a partnership with Concrete Homes magazine for a year-long series on the basics of foundation construction; as well as a variety of press releases and online postings. We believe the efforts have been successful in building a solid awareness of the benefits of poured wall construction, yet there is still much to do. Our 2004 program includes the completion of the Concrete Home series, which will increase the expert position of CFA, as well as educate homeowners on the benefits of cast-in-place foundations.

A PR program hinges largely on membership participation, and since it also serves to benefit you, we wanted to take the time to explain our goals and objectives. Having managed the PR effort or CFA for the last two years, I would like to share answers to some of the most common questions we receive regarding the awareness campaign.

WHAT IS PUBLIC RELATIONS

Public relations, or PR, is the formal way in which organizations communicate with their publics. It is planned or managed communication – a means to communicate, influence and sometimes even sell. The medium provides the necessary third-party credibility you cannot achieve with advertising and is a cost-effective means to build a brand. However, it should be noted that public relations requires a consistent and concerted effort – it is not as simple as sending one release. True public relations success is achieved by developing a program that carefully delivers a key message to target audiences.

WANT TO SEE YOUR PROJECTS IN PICTURES?

A picture really does tell a thousand words, and in case of public relations, good photography can make or break securing a story. With ever-changing technology and a variety of new products, the CFA is always in need of good job-site photographs. The advent and subsequent explosion of digital photography had a large impact on our photo archives. Obviously, digital technology provides for quick and easy manipulation and development of photographs for website and email purposes. However, most of these images are not suitable for print publications since most magazines require digital photos to be at least 300 dpi (dots per inc) and 4 x 6 in size – usually in TIF format. For cover photographs, a slide, transparency or 8.5 x 11 inch photograph is necessary. With only small digital files to choose from in our archives, the CFA is losing valuable opportunities in the media. For example, we lost an opportunity with Concrete Construction magazine early this year because high-resolution images were not available for the CFA project of interest to the editor. The lesson learned is to make sure your digital camera is set to take high resolution photographs before snapping a shot or simply use a 35mm camera so photos can be scanned at the proper resolution. If you have photos you are willing to share, please send them to CFA today. Your company will benefit from exposure since the photo caption and cutline (caption) highlights your company and project.

HOW CAN YOU BENEFIT FROM THE CFA PR PROGRAM?

In addition to building awareness of cast in place foundations – a phenomena from which we all benefit – CFA’s PR program is a resource for you and helpful in your marketing efforts. Published articles and press releases are posted on the CFA website and many are available in pdf format for you to download and share with prospective clients or other team members. Include the articles in your proposals, send them as a mailing to clients, or even repackage them as a column in your local business publication. If you cannot find an article on a particular topic, let us know. Chances are we have the piece you need, or it is something we could create for all members to use.

Further, CFA needs a list of technical experts to review articles, create white papers for the more technically-oriented publications or serve as interviews. If you have expertise and can spare time for this worth endeavor, please contact CFA today. Also, active involvement in the Association prompts us to call you next time we need an expert. Explore opportunities to serve on committees that interest you.

HOW DO WE KNOW IF WE ARE SUCCESSFUL?

Without a goal, how will you measure success? There are a variety of methods to measure the effectiveness of PR efforts – ranging from comparing space receive with the cost of buying equal advertising space to expensive market research of those reading target publications. CFA measures its results by establishing goals in terms of key audiences we reach and topics covered. Your participation in our program – either as a participation in a feature article or distributing published articles throughout the marketplace, simply aids and helps us build a stronger program.

CAN YOU HELP?

If you have any suggestions or topics you want covered in the Concrete Homes column or ideas for future feature articles, please contact Wendy Ward at wward@constructivecommunication.com.

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Concrete FACTS, a publication of the Concrete Foundations Association, is THE voice for residential concrete industry news, market intelligence, business strategies, technical solutions, product information, and other resources for professionals in the cast-in-place concrete industry. Subscriptions to Concrete FACTS is available to anyone involved or interested in the residential concrete industry as a service to your industry. Please contact CFA Headquarters to find out more about your free subscription or Email Us