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Effective Public Relations Builds Brands

Norbert J. Hobrath

Continuing on a previous blog, “The Power of the Press,” I am going to give you some strategic insight and examples of how one of our customers used public relations to meet specific objectives.

The Press/Media Can be Your Ally

Since my early days as a student at Kent State University working toward a degree in public relations, I learned how to work with the media. That early training was beneficial, teaching us how to prepare stories that editors would WANT to receive and use. I still employ these lessons today. Let me share a few with you before I delve into some specific projects promoting the MarineLine® cargo tank coating system (shown here).

1. Think like an Editor. When you prepare a story, write it like the editor would be able to use it directly from your press release. Our collegiate training taught us to write as a journalist first. No fluff. Get to the point. Deliver the news upfront in the article. Present the benefits in a fair, responsible manner. I have written some trade articles that editors have used word for word without editing. I am proud of that.

2. Be Responsive. When possible, get the story to the editor ahead of his/her deadline. Answer additional questions if needed. Set up interviews if requested to round out the story. Get to know the editors personally. I meet with as many editors whenever possible as I travel around the world, to keep up and build my relationships. When I need to, I can pick up the phone or send an email and get an answer back quickly from them because of this good working relationship.

3. Think of the Reader. Who are you writing for? What does the person reading the article in the magazine or newspaper want to know? Once you have these answers, then tell that story. Make it interesting. Great photos and graphics can help immensely to make an even stronger impression.

4. Be a Partner with the Media. They have a job to do, just like you. Some people think the media can be adversarial. Sure, they can be when there is negative news, because they want to find out what really happened. But the other 95% of the time, they are looking for a good story and if you bring it to them ready to go, they will appreciate working with you.

5. Why are We all in Business? Remember, magazines, newspapers and news websites also would like to get your support in advertising space. They need to make money too. So whenever it fits, try to grace media you work with on a regular basis with advertising to complement the PR stories that appear on your behalf.

There is much more I can say on this theme, but let me illustrate some effective results that were achieved working in the maritime trade media for our client, Advanced Polymer Coatings (APC), in Avon, Ohio, USA. The company is well-known throughout the marine industry for its innovative, patented polymer MarineLine® 784 coating, used to protect cargo tanks in chemical and product tankers that carry hazardous and aggressive chemicals on the high seas.

STORY ONE – Presenting APC’s Commitment to Customer Service

Tanker shipowners are asked to carry a wide range of chemicals from their customers including acids, caustics and solvents. So they need answer if their cargo tanks, coated with the APC’s MarineLine® 784 system, can handle these chemicals. APC wanted to let shipowners know that its chemical resistance list of more than 5,000 chemicals and a full internal laboratory and also outside independent labs were resources that were available to research requested chemicals.

We provided an exclusive opportunity to The Motorship Magazine (shown here), with a specially prepared article on this theme, covering various testing equipment used at APC, different types of tests that are conducted, explanations of various competitive coatings, and other pertinent information. The final 3-page article delivered a powerful impression to the industry, under the headline, “Testing cargo tank coatings provides answers on maritime chemical service.” That is exactly what we wanted the industry to know about APC. BINGO!

STORY TWO – Educating the Industry on the Importance of Proper Coatings Application for a Successful End Result

The coating on the outside hull of a ship sees virtually the same environment everyday. However, the coating on a chemical cargo tank often sees a wide range of different cargoes at various times in its life cycle, sometimes even switching cargoes on every voyage. So the cargo tank coating must deliver a number of performance expectations for versatility, corrosion resistance, cargo purity, and easy cleaning. 
That is why MarineLine® 784 has a special application procedure, that is more advanced than other types of coatings, to give the coating a higher performance capability. So I wrote a specialized article to explain the important steps in the procedure so shipowners and shipyards where vessels are constructed would understand the vital aspects of proper preparation, application, heating curing and inspection. The article, under the title, “Four Steps to Success,” resulted in 3-page feature in Shipping World & Shipbuilder (shown here). The article was highlighted in their special show issue at the largest shipping trade show in the world, in Hamburg, Germany, and was given out to many attendees at their exhibit. Perfect timing!

If you would like to learn more on how PR can help your company in promoting its brands, send me an email to set up an appointment. I will be glad to explain how we can help your branding and content marketing efforts.

Norbert Hobrath believes in the power of content marketing, both in words and images, and the powerful combination of these two. For more than 30 years, he has developed interesting, informative and influential strategy and content for both industrial and service-based B2B clientele. He has also directed marketing and communications programs as Director of Marketing Communications for a worldwide manufacturing company, and as Communications Manager for the Fortune 500 American Greetings Corporation, and for a BASF chemicals company. He enjoys promoting corporate and product brands through effective storytelling. He is President & Chief Content Officer of Hobrath Group, LLC in Cleveland, Ohio. www.hobrath.com

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Norbert J. Hobrath
Founder and President