By Carl Carter, APR, AMM
Almost every conversation with a prospect who hasn’t used my services before starts with these questions. So here are the answers. Look them over, and if you think I can help you sell your assets or promote your company, give me a call.
What are your most common services for auctioneers?
The most common product by far is promoting upcoming auctions through press releases. Others include releases on the results of auctions, copywriting, blogging, podcasting and media consulting.
How do customers find you?
Most of my business comes through referrals by existing clients or, or from responses to Facebook advertising, articles and blog posts. I can always be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 205-378-9290.
How do clients budget your services?
Most of my services are a set fee for the project. This enables auctioneers to plug in the number to complete their budget without the trouble of calling for an estimate. When an auction calls for a more specialized or intense effort, the client usually calls me and we prepare a custom budget. (This might include controversial assets or those that need extensive trade media or international exposure, for example.) In most cases, the cost of the PR campaign promoting an upcoming auction is included in the marketing budget paid by the seller.
What are the advantages of using you as opposed to a big PR firm with more resources?
With a large public relations firm, the owners or senior account managers do the selling, but the actual work is often done by entry-level professionals with limited experience. One reason I adopted my consultant business model is that I love the hands-on work of PR, so I write most of the releases, deal with the reporters and report back to my clients. Most feel that my 40 years of experience (10 as a journalist and 30 as a PR professional) works to their advantage. It’s worth noting that I have been doing “auction PR” since the mid-1990s, so I understand the business. I am a member of the National Auctioneers Association and have the AMM certification.
What about firms that are too small to afford a PR firm?
My clients include some of the biggest auction firms in the country, but about half the work I do is for companies that may have only one or two people. Since the cost of PR services is usually covered in the marketing budget, it doesn’t matter what size the client firm is.
What are the most important factors in deciding whether to include a press release for an upcoming auction?
I look at three primary factors in assessing whether an asset is a good “PR candidate.” (1) Storytelling potential. Is there an aspect of the property that makes for a good story I can use to get a reporter’s attention? This doesn’t have to be a big glamour property. It can be a business asset or an interesting collection of personal property, for example. (2) Availability of media. What media are within striking distance of the asset being sold? Is there an angle that appeals to a specific industry that allows us to promote it beyond the local area? For example, we frequently promote releases about farmland auctions to agricultural media. Other common ones are wine publications (for vineyards), hospitality (for hotels and motels) and even retail management (for commercial properties). (3) Financial feasibility. Finally, it’s important to keep things in balance, so I look at the value of the assets being sold. If it’s going to be a $10,000 auction, a press release just may not be feasible.
How do I know if your campaign got results?
I provide detailed reports on every project, with a complete list of media that used the release. These reports are frequently helpful in convincing balky sellers that you’ve “pulled out the stops” to publicize the auction, which can encourage them to confirm the sale.
Who are your clients?
I post every release at www.newmediarules.com, so you can go there to see who my clients are and what I’ve done for them. There’s also a page with recent results showing staff-written articles about my clients.
What do you look for in clients?
Two things are critical — integrity and open communication. I won’t lie for you or cover up unethical practices. So if you’re looking for that, I’m not your boy. As an accredited public relations professional, I am bound by the Code of Ethics of the Public Relations Society of America. Among other things, this also provides assurance that I will respect your proprietary information and work in your best interest. It’s also essential that we be able to communicate openly and frankly. The better I know you and understand your business, the better our results together will be.