Friday, November 18, 2016

BELFOR Property Restoration Comes to the Rescue

The students, faculty and staff of West Clark Community Schools in Henryville, IN, thought the afternoon of March 2, 2012 would be like any other typical day. Little did they know, a catastrophic F-4 tornado would soon destroy their school and most of the community in which they lived.

It was only 20 minutes after the students had been sent home early from class as a safety precaution that the devastating storm hit. This forced several bus drivers and their passengers to take emergency shelter in a church basement, homes of area residents, or whatever other refuge they could find.

Astonishingly, no one was injured during the horrific storm. However, three of the buses as well as the entire school, were completely demolished by 170 mph winds, and the destruction only took 23 seconds. What at first seemed like an irreparable disaster would soon become a miraculous recovery at the hands of BELFOR Property Restoration.

BELFOR Property Restoration is the leading company in integrated disaster recovery and property restoration services in North America. The company specializes in fixing damages caused by fire, water, wind, and other catastrophes. No matter what time of day or night, BELFOR is designed to respond to any property disaster or emergency.

In the case of Henryville, IN, the BELFOR restoration experts were challenged with the important job of restoring the community’s combined elementary, middle and high school campus. 

There were several difficult hurdles BELFOR faced when setting to work on the restoration project. The first included an accelerated timeline of five months, because school administrators wanted everything to be ready by the beginning of the next school year in August.

Securing temporary facilities where classes could resume as soon as possible was very important because the children needed a place to continue learning during the restoration. The alternative would have been to allow students to fall behind in their studies, which was not a viable option.

Negotiating with building and restoration product manufacturers to fast-track orders and deliver materials needed on the job site would have been a definite obstacle, if not for BELFOR’s large buying power and persuasive project managers. Expediting product acquisitions for the constructive restoration project was essential to the preplanned timeline. 

Increasing manpower to ensure on-time completion while minimizing overtime costs was another challenge of the job. The restoration team generated a structured schedule of planning and execution to streamline processes, with a system of numerous checks and balances.

One milestone centered around the fact BELFOR was able to obtain a ruling from the labor board to use both union and non-union crews on the project. Not an easy undertaking, this enabled a more robust work calendar with an experienced team working in carefully arranged shifts. On average, a collective workforce of 300 worked on site day and night.

John Prater, president of Praters Flooring, participated in the restoration. “The challenge of working on schools that have been so damaged by tornadoes is the enormous scope of work that has to be performed in a relatively short period of time without sacrificing quality,” he said in an article for Disaster Resource. “You want the community to be able to get back to some sort of normalcy as quickly as possible.” 

There were several different horrifying images and videos playing in the news coverage following the tornado. However, the actual video surveillance footage from the AXIS Communications Fixed Dome Network Camera technology the school had in place was alarming, yet educational.

“Having the video footage of the actual building being destroyed was amazing from the standpoint that we got to see in detail what wind like this, what a weather event like this, actually does to a structure,” said Dr. Glenn Riggs, principal of Henryville Elementary School, as quoted by Disaster Resource.

The surveillance footage proved to be quite a helpful reference point for BELFOR and its team.  If there were questions about what fixtures should be installed where, the teams were sometimes able to review the footage and find their answers.

The Striking Solutions

It only took BELFOR two weeks to prepare a temporary facility for elementary school classes to resume. The team also found a temporary location in three weeks for high school classes. The company worked with school board officials, administrators, local authorities, and the insurance adjuster to develop and implement a plan to salvage and bring up to code a couple of old buildings.

While the workers were aggressively trying to make these temporary facilities fit for classrooms, they were also recovering, cleaning and delivering contents from the tornado-damaged site. The team brought a sense of calm to what would have normally been a very stressful situation.

Before BELFOR could begin restoring the demolished site where the original school once stood, they had to secure its surroundings to protect the facility from vandalism, theft, or further damage. Thus, a security fence was built around the massive property. 

Nearly 70 percent of the 220,000-square-foot school was gutted, leading to major interior renovations and reconstruction of essential walls and skeletal structures. In addition, from the ground up, the remaining 30 percent had to be demolished and rebuilt.

A few of the school’s new features include: HVAC equipment, wiring, drywall, ceiling tiles, floor coverings, cabinets, windows, and a roof-deck and roof. Any of the unused contents from the temporary schools were cleaned, packed up and stored in an off-site warehouse. 

Once the hardworking team had accomplished the nearly impossible rebuilding of the school, they engaged several specialists, including an Industrial Hygienist, who tested for various unsanitary elements such as mold. Remarkably, the BELFOR team and its associates were able to accomplish the seemingly unachievable goal to have the school up and running by the beginning of the next school year.

“One of the key things that people can learn from this is that damage is unpredictable,” said Vernon Duty, National Accounts Manager with BELFOR. “With a hurricane, you have three or four days’ notice, maybe more. But a tornado, which is a threat in significant portions of the country, could happen unexpectedly,” he explained in the Disaster Resource article.

According to Duty, the fact tornados have such unforeseen effects is something that should prompt communities, business owners, school and hospital administrators, and everyone to plan for the unexpected well in advance. While no one is ever fully prepared for a natural disaster of this magnitude, creating and distributing a framework for action prior to the need is key. 

For the West Clark community, fortunately, BELFOR was able to come to the rescue, restore laughter and cheer to the school’s hallways, and leave the site even better than it had been before the storm of a lifetime.
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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

White Paper: Influencer Marketing 

Why Influencers are Important for your Business and Brand

The term “Influencer” has become so synonymous with successful marketing practices, the Cambridge Dictionary has actually added a new definition of the word. 


Noun. Marketing Term:
  •          “A person or group that has the ability to influence the behavior or opinions of others: The influencer is the individual or group whose effect on a purchase decision is in some way significant or authoritative.”
It is true. Much like in personal life, many in business are influenced, convinced or persuaded by others to change or alter their thinking, opinions, practices, or decisions.

Why not? After all, gleaning new insight and information from trusted contacts who have either experienced the products or services of a business - or who are familiar with but not part of the brand or source - is a means to a credible reference.

For years, many in marketing have heard the coined phase, “Word of Mouth.” An old adage, the concept has served its purpose for years in terms of generating interest in brands and their products or services. But, for those willing to stay tuned regarding this mindset’s more modernized trend shift, the positive impact of influencers on sales and marketing can be astounding.

So, then, exactly what is “Influencer Marketing”?

Start by setting aside the outdated approach to one-way marketing messages. You know it well- the timeworn method of static messages about a business and that which it sells, hoping the information resonates with sales leads, customers or clients.

Now, think about two-way and interactive marketing based upon the influence of others. Neither your marketing staff, nor your sales team have the power to influence your customers like others do. 
Who are these all-important influencers?

For one, they are not you. Influencers in marketing include those reputable contacts who are not part of your personnel and have earned the trust of people within your target audience sectors. They are reliable third-party influencers who have built a follower, fan or reader base that is often swayed by their recommendations, written content and expressed opinions.

The list of possible influencers is long, and good that it is. Influencers with whom you should be interfacing for the benefit of your brand are editors, journalists, columnists, bloggers, vloggers, industry experts, renowned analysts, social media gurus, and others who are authorities within your industry as well as the scope of how you conduct business.

Those who possess the platform to endorse your marketing messages, boost your acclaim, or drive others to purchase your products or services- they are the influencers you want and need to know. As you ramp up for 2017 marketing budget allocations, consider these stats:

  •  84% of marketers plan to implement Influencer Marketing programs within the next 12 months. ~ eMarketer study.
  • From 2014 to 2016, traditional paid advertising has dropped in favor, whereas Influencer Marketing has grown. ~ Nielson finding.
  •  Influencer Marketing now requires public relations managers to interact with an increasing number of external contacts who have the power and platforms to advocate for or endorse a business. ~ Eberly & Collard Public Relations focus group.
Four Strategies to Build Relationships with Influencers

Start with strategic content marketing:

In order to gain the endorsement of external influencers, your business should first define strategic and long-term marketing outreach and publicity goals. This includes uncovering how you brand is currently being perceived by your customers, clients and others, and how you would like to enhance those perceptions. Begin to develop brand-augmentation messaging points, sound bites and innovative forms of print and digital self-published content. The most effective content will be formulated and disseminated with a clear and creative approach.

Rather than “telling” or “informing” your targets how they should perceive your brand, offer them engaging and resourceful information that causes them to view your business as an industry helpmate or supportive analyst. Self-publish this written and video content via your owned media- i.e., your website, blog and social media channels, giving your customers and prospects a solid reason to keep your URLs in their feeds.

Find and engage trusted influencers:

Next, research a diverse group of external contacts, businesses, media outlets, industry associations, and a range of influential connections in, around and involved in your field. Determine good influencers for your brand by studying their potential applicability and viability for being ambassadors for your business. If they have a known and existing trust factor among your customer- or client-types, and they own a share of voice to effectively persuade your targets, initiating an authentic relationship with the influencer(s) is beneficial.

Look for influencers in relative places to your business, such as popular social media enthusiasts, qualified professional associations, well-attended conferences or tradeshows, B-to-B or B-to-C online forums and blogs, top 20 trade publications, top 100 (or more) business or mainstream media outlets, and anywhere communities have formed that could yield proactive, positive interactions. Engage and interface with these influencers as an ongoing matter of day-to-day activity for your business. Get involved, stay connected, be social, and actively participate.

Execute press and media relations:

Edit the above-mentioned content in Associated Press style, and implement tactical public and media relations to produce earned media. Draft press releases, news briefs, product notices, completed project announcements, and other media outlet-focused narratives regarding your business, personnel, news, awards, and accomplishments. Submit these official content documents to a list of well-researched editors, reporters and media members, and follow-up with them by way of media relations best practices.

Take time to uncover where, when and how your customers, prospects and leads tend to read or view their news. It is these media outlets to which you should submit customized releases. In turn, as select media outlets publish or report your news, they will naturally act as influencers, which can lead your target audiences to your website or other forms of connecting with your company. Media-endorsed information about your business is one of the surest ways to increase branding and sales.

Cultivate and maintain your brand influencers:

In all of your Influencer Marketing efforts, remain true to the brand standards your business holds sacred. Adhere to a set of guidelines that makes it possible for everyone within your organization to create and grow relationships with influencers.

As you develop new informational content of interest to your audiences and invite the influencers to share it with the contacts who admire them, be sure to include key search words and URL links in subtle ways.
Though, do not oversaturate the content with promotional or sales information. Your influencer campaign content should be purposed to form both inbound and outbound leads activity through non-sales language. Yet, it should have an attention-grabbing and a value-added informational tone. 

As you proceed with cultivating relationships with the influencers, think of them as allies for your brand. Provide mutually beneficial support to those willing and able to persuade, refer or guide their followers toward you and your business.

By implementing Influencer Marketing rife with valuable content, your business will become known as offering value, data and insight to your customers, or those who could become customers. If well planned, your content will be shared and re-shared by others, going viral and building new forms of outreach and impressions. Finally, your business will breed new relationships with significant, persuasive contacts paramount to your sales and marketing success.

For a customized campaign to garner influencer relations for your business, brands, products, and / or services, contact us... 

Eberly Collard Public Relations develops and executes regional, national and international public relations programs for clients that help them join effective communities and conversations, which evoke new relationships for them with media members, customers or clients, and relevant influencers.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Architecture & Construction Strengthen Symbiotic Relationship with the Environment Through Sustainability

Construction / contracting companies and architecture firms were buoyant about the trends predicted to occur within the industry this year. Many cities throughout the United States are growing faster than ever, and with urban growth comes the new opportunities to re-construct parts of the cities that had been long forgotten. According to Dodge Data & Analytics' 2016 Construction Outlook report, there is a predicted 6% growth, with the value of construction starting to reach an estimated $712 billion. The opportunities to build innovative sustainable structures have surfaced as the demand in sustainability and walkable communities has increased. According to the American Institute of Architects third-quarter Home Design Trends Survey, “design elements such as access to public transportation, multi-generational housing, walkable neighborhoods and mixed-use facilities dominate homeowner preferences.” As the 2016 foreseen trends continue to take place, companies are adapting to the changes and progressively making improvements in sustainable approaches across several of the industries in which we specialize.

Credit: Jeffrey Betts

Changes in the industry stimulate the need for innovative approaches to old tasks. Eberly & Collard Public Relations’ experience developing relationships with the media in the building, construction, and architecture industries are highly valuable. We have worked with construction companies who implement a variety of building techniques across the realm. We also manage to keep up with the latest trends in our industries and are delighted to see the revolutionary advancements companies are developing towards sustainability.

Credit: Lando and Associates, Landscape Architecture
Our firm’s successful execution of media relations management and integrated marketing approach often results in the feature of client projects in trade publications and across several media channels within their industry. Our services create trade and consumer zeal for our clients' businesses. The ECPR team invites you to read and view our current online case-studies content. 

Along with the sustainability trend surging everywhere, the architecture, construction and commercial building industries represent a pristine area to apply the concept. “Green building currently accounts for 26-33% of the total residential market and has helped contribute to the industry's recovery after the recession, according to Dodge Data & Analytics.” But what exactly separates the industries from becoming more “green” and moving towards sustainability instead? Sustainability goes beyond being “green.” It prioritizes the symbiotic relationship between our species and the environment; it focuses on responsibly utilizing resources and re-thinking designs that do not have a detrimental impact. For instance, designing structures that maximize the use of natural daylight, use sustainable materials such as reclaimed wood, promote cycling culture in various ways, and integrate geothermal heating and cooling systems.

Credit: Asia Green Buildings
Publicizing that your business utilizes sustainable building practices and that it is reshaping construction or architectural designs to preserve our ecosystem can be significantly beneficial. Our mission is to promote your business in your marketplace and leverage publicity into results and revenue.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

Using Instagram for Your Business

With more than 400 million active accounts, Instagram is an exceedingly engaged global community. The creative context and visual language of this photo-sharing app is a great way to inspire countless individuals and influence customers or clients in regard to your brand.

Businesses that use Instagram are able to showcase their products and services in a rich, visual and viral environment. There are seemingly endless opportunities for businesses to use the brand-building app effectively. Take our tips into consideration when looking to shape your company’s Instagram strategy and presence:

·         Establish What Your Company Wants to Achieve with Instagram:
o   Start off by researching and creating a well-formed strategy. You should create clear goals and concepts that mirror your company’s campaign goals.
o   Develop a schedule that suits the needs of your intended followers, industries and sectors.
o   Brainstorm lists of ideas, concepts and imagery to fulfill the schedule as well as engage and involve your B-to-C and / or B-to-B audience(s).

·         Cultivate a Following:
o   In order to gain followers, you have to follow other accounts and “like” their posts. Influencers in the same industry, clients, and engaging users are a few suggestions to increase your followings. Create two-way dialogs in this way, inviting and encouraging others to do the same with you and your business.
o   Follow and interact with others on Instagram specific to your marketing objectives; work across all of your sales and prospect segmentations to ensure you leave no important sector unattended.

·         Set a Tone:
o   It is important to choose a visual style for your account, such as certain filters to use, what content each image will focus on, and common language / hashtags to use for captions. For example, by sticking with the same filters, you establish a style that becomes recognizable to your followers.
o   Conversely, plan posts and content that is flexible, ultra-creative and interesting. This involves photos that showcase your business’ brand persona- meaning its would-be personality or interactive and lively role within your scope of work or areas of expertise.
o   Generate strategic messages and sound bites to be used in captions and a list of best practices and posting standards your entire team can practice and implement to create a cohesive brand-voice.

·         Captivate Your Audience:
o   Each post has a story to tell. Use a high-quality image and captivating caption. You can also cross-post with other social media platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, which becomes an easy source of visual content and connectivity throughout social media platforms.
o   Possibly like no other social media channel, Instagram is shaping up to be the customized or bespoke online networking tool. Proactive and tactical Instagram managers create posts that are completely tailored to their brands; unlike Facebook and twitter, these posts tend to feature a more personalized “day-in-the-life” view of a business’ inner-workings, news, happenings, and achievements.

·         Monitor Achievements:
o   Tracking the performance of your account will help you and your team stay in tune with what resonates with your followers. This allows room for improvement; a chance to evaluate ongoing content goals your company is achieving; and a hands-on look at that which needs to be achieved.
o   As you develop photo and caption content, experiment with applicable hashtags. Keep them on-topic and one to two key words most of the time. Don’t forget to check the general content to which hashtags lead. You may be surprised at which ones do and do not echo your brand’s messages.
o   Monitor captions with and without hashtags to see which prove successful in gleaning interaction, likes and online dialog. As you learn what makes your Instagram effective, repeat the pros and revise the cons.

Remember, with Instagram now considered the hub where people view the visual identities of businesses, products, services, and brands- it is a crucial consideration to effectively promote your business on Instagram.

Instagram has been a great way for the Eberly & Collard Public Relations social media team to successfully promote our services and news throughout the fields of architecture, construction, interior design, horticulture, and our other industries. We are helping many of our clients kick-off their own Instagram accounts and other social media accounts as well. Check back to our blog for updates and additional social media insights from our team, and follow our Instagram: @eberlycollardpr.

For even more Instagram tips, check out Instagram and Hootsuite.