One of the most active standing committees in the IICRC is the marketing and PR committee, because it involves most IICRC programs and activities. There are several basic areas of responsibility for the committee, which include trade media outreach, registrant support and consumer awareness.
The first goal of the committee is to provide up-to-date information about the IICRC to both certified and non-certified individuals and companies. This is best accomplished through the trade media. Monthly press releases are sent out ICS Cleaning Specialist and more than 30 other magazines. In addition, published press releases are posted on the IICRC Web site (www.iicrc.org) and sent to IICRC headquarters in the UK and Australia.
Registrants receive three newsletters annually to inform them of important IICRC information and activities. More than 13,000 newsletters are sent out quarterly. If you are an IICRC Certified Technician, your newsletter is sent to the company you listed as your employer. Be sure to let headquarters know of any address changes so you will continue to receive your IICRC mail. The newsletter is also available in a PDF file to download from the IICRC Web site.
Speaking of which…the Web site is a great source of information, including newsflashes; “News You Can Use” Cleaning and Restoration Tips for Consumers; school and class notifications; listings of board members; associations; downloadable forms and listings of IICRC supporters. There are also brochures that may be purchased through headquarters describing the benefits of hiring a Certified Firm.
Another way IICRC supports its registrants is by attending conventions, meetings and trade shows, many times with the IICRC booth. This enables registrants to talk face-to-face with IICRC personnel and volunteer board members, as well as registering for Continuing Education Credits (CECs). In many instances, the only expenses IICRC entails are travel, lodging and meals. These events include the Connections Events in Las Vegas and Orlando; ISSA; IAQA; Surfaces; NADCA; AusClean; Crawford Connection; ServiceMaster; Stanley Steemer; Servpro; NUCCA and many others.
I often hear that IICRC fails to market to consumers. That’s just not so. Although we can’t afford ads in Ladies Home Journal or run TV ads in everyone’s hometown, our consumer outreach has expanded tremendously over the past few years. Several years ago we launched the IICRC consumer site at www.certifiedcleaners.org. Since its initial launch, it has been revised and expanded to better serve consumers of IICRC services. Our technical advisor, Jeff Bishop, answers hundreds of calls and e-mails from consumers every year. Questions range from carpet cleaning to mold contamination to IEQ issues to sewage remediation to hundreds of other topics related to our industry.
IICRC was given credit in the foreword of CRI's "Carpet Cleaning for Dummies" this past year. Our website www.certifiedcleaners.org is referenced in Chapter 5, "Calling a Pro" and in Chapter 6, "Cleaning Area Rugs" and Chapter 7, "Removing the Top 10 Terrible Stains."
Our PR firm has secured many articles in consumer magazines, TV programs and newspapers throughout the year. They include:
- Poughkeepsie Journal regarding proper maintenance and care of upholstery
- Articles on a spring cleaning checklist in Rosie on the House (Arizona), Arizona Republic, Real Simple, The Homesteader, Country Living, Home Magazine and Kentucky Living
- Interviews and placements in the Real Simple Book of Cleaning, This Old House Online and Points North.
- IICRC experts as resources before and following inclement weather and natural disasters in twelve states this past year including the California fires and flooding throughout the country
- Seven NAPS releases were developed and distributed and are available on the IICRC site as well as the consumer site
- Positioned IICRC experts as resources in an online database (ProfNet) used by media professionals when they are looking for subject matter experts
- Heart and Soul magazine regarding indoor air quality
- Coverage in Martha Stewart Living regarding coloring leather furniture
- Letter to the editor regarding indoor environmental pollution in top 10 polluted cities. Secured coverage in Valley Voice in Visalia, CA.
- Coverage in Sun Herald Newspapers regarding a victim of a bait-and-switch program
- Also Saratoga NY Business Journal, KGBT-TV, Texarkana Gazette, Forbes.com, This Old House, Kentucky Living, Anchorage Daily News, Boston Globe, KRON-TV, San Diego Union Tribune and Cleveland News Sun to name a few more. We've received coverage throughout the US, Canada, UK, Australia, Japan and elsewhere in the world.
As of January 1, 2008, IICRC entered into an agreement with Housekeeping Channel (www.housekeepingchannel.com). This site is geared toward consumers and should provide additional awareness of IICRC. Part of this agreement includes enabling service listings at no charge for IICRC-Certified firms and Inspectors includes a link to the IICRC Web site.
The "You'd Be Floored" on-line consumer survey was conducted in September this year. The information gleaned from the survey will not only be useful to registrants, but it will also be used by our PR firm to "pitch" stories to consumer magazines.
Our PR firm, Edleman from Atlanta, Georgia, is one of the largest firms in the country. They execute what they call "Vertical Outreach," which is designed to heighten awareness among vertical trade media (insurance, education, facility management) of the knowledge and expertise the IICRC offers to various industries and communicate the message regarding the importance and benefits of using an IICRC Certified Firm. Some of these publication include Landlord's Bottom Line, College Planning and Management, DucTales, the National Air Duct Cleaners Association publication, Colorado Real Estate Journal and Health Facilities Management and American School and Hospital. More than 6.5 million impressions in consumer media were generated by the Edelman team as a result of proactive pitching to target media and rapid response efforts. Almost 1,000,000 impressions in trade media from the monthly trade releases were generated. Not bad, huh?
Each year we hold an annual carpet manufacturer's liaison seminar in Dalton. This effort is coordinated by Cy Gantt, a long standing IICRC Board Member, and we invite claims personnel to learn more about IICRC technicians and Certified Firms. Attendance includes reps from all major mills and fiber producers including: Shaw, Dupont, Mohawk, Beaulieu, Tandus, Mannington, Dixie Group and Constantine. This personal contact with claims personnel results in thousands of referrals for our registrants each year.
Our relationship with the carpet industry has grown more positive each year. As of January 1, 2008 most of the major mills are now requiring a Certified Firm be hired to clean carpet to maintain warranties. In addition, recently CRI added the following statement to their web site:
"To keep your carpet at peak performance, CRI recommends professionally deep cleaning your carpet every 12 to 18 months. (Be sure to check your carpet warranty for particular requirements.) One source for finding a professional cleaning company in your area is the Institute of Inspection, Cleaning and Restoration Certification (IICRC) at www.certifiedcleaners.org or 800-835-4624."
A Government Affairs committee was established in 2007. Former President Dan Bernazzani is the chair. His committee is charged with monitoring legislative issues that may impact IICRC registrants. Working with our PR firm, the committee has established a data base of regulations throughout the country by searching newsletters, legal websites, state legislative web sites and others that provide information on bills before the various state legislatures, including Florida, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Colorado, Illinois, Maine, New York and Minnesota.
So what else are we working on?
Well, we have investigated the possibility of send e-newsletters to registrants, however, with so many SPAM blockers and people constantly changing their e-mail address we haven't yet conquered that challenge.
Most importantly, the IICRC referral program and search criteria are in the process of being expanded and updated to better serve consumers and our registrants. Because of privacy laws we will not be able to directly link our registrants to each consumer. However, we will be adding an "opt-in" feature so consumers can request contact by a particular firm. In the meantime, be sure that headquarters has your correct website and e-mail address on file.
Do you have suggestions for project? You're welcome to recommend any reasonable ideas. We are always looking for volunteers to serve on this committee. Just e-mail me and I'll be sure that any qualified volunteer is put to work!