Time Traveler Discounts and Other Wacky Ideas

Lowe's Hardware Store Robot

When you think about the folks who work in Home Improvements you probably conjure up images of people with safety goggles on, hammer in hand and a cordless drill lodged in a utility belt giving them the look of modern day Lone Ranger ready to bring those rusting gutters to justice!

Or perhaps you think about the many thousands of people who work in hardware stores who have to explain to customers the difference between a self-tapping screw and a nail, or maybe even all those folks who work for manufactures who make all the things that go into constructing, fixing and finishing the homes we live in.

What probably doesn't leap to mind are the people who's job it is to influence the influencers, from the main stream media through to the humble blogger like myself. Particularly at this time of year, publicists are inescapable for me, due to the mountains of good, bad, and downright ridiculous ideas publicists and marketing agents jam my inbox with.

So I thought I'd share with you some of the things that publicists have urged me to write about, some I have but others I haven't for various reasons as you'll see below.

Worst Home Improvement Offer Unless You're Doctor Who

I'm not going to name the company involved because this publicist would have a hard time keeping their job if their employer read this - all I'll say is that the client is a major retailer with stores throughout North America, Great Britain, Continental Europe, and even down in Australia.

Last week I received an email from a temporally (hopefully only temporarily) challenged publicist promoting a nation-wide home improvement event in the U.K. urging me to write something to encourage my readers to attend - the trouble was the event was ending a couple of hours after she emailed me! By the time my post would have appeared the 'nationwide spectacular' would have been over - I'll save it for my upcoming special called "Become a Time Traveler and Never Miss a Bargain Again".

I'm Not a Publicist - Trust Me, I'm a Publicist

This kind of relates to the one above, because if you have a time machine you'll be able to read a guest post about architecture which I published yesterday. I do publish guest posts here, but with very strict rules designed to keep publicists and SEO agents from flooding my inbox with fake articles. I did a quick background check on this 'blogger' and he seemed genuine and had written an interesting piece so I edited it as usual (leaving out some irrelevant information) and published it - and that's when the demands started. It turned out he was a publicist and had to have certain things included due to his client's requirements. He even offered me a bribe - so I deleted his article.

The point here is to always take a healthy skeptical view of information in the media and on blogs - the story you're reading may not have been published purely due to its merits.

Now I'm not saying I can't be bribed, for example if any publicist from Pomerol, France would like to send me a crate of 1993 Ch√Ęteau le Pin I'll write a glowing review of your district as a wonder holiday destination - at least I'll be glowing while I write it :)

Big Hairy Home Improvements

Ok, so this sub-title is a little obtuse - what I'm referring to here is what the professionals call "Gorilla Marketing", and I'm a total sucker for it when executed well.

A great example was when a small upstart business called Spark, who provide technology for DIY'ers to create smart homes, launched a project in response to Google's takeover of Nest. I was impressed and wrote about it on my smart thermostat blog - check it out here if you would like to build your own thermostat which doesn't send all your personal information back to a large corporation.

Home Improvement Professionals

There are some big companies which do things really well. They often tell people like me well in advance about big new product launches or special promotions so I have plenty of time to decide if I think it will be of interest to my readers, and the best way to write about it. They will often impose an 'embargo' which means I can't say anything about it before a specific date, but that's a good trade-off to learn about these things well ahead of time.

A perfect example recently was the great work done by the publicists at Lowes getting everyone hyped up about OSHbot (pictured above) - their customer service robot straight out of science fiction which they will be trialing in their Orchard Supply Hardware Division. Everyone from bloggers to the main stream media have been talking about it publicly over the last 48 hours, of course they all put their own spin on the story - Fox News even put it in the context of the debate over minimum wages while I was thinking it was simply part of the unceasing progression of science & technology.

I'll be including OSHbot in a piece very soon which I'm writing about how technology is moving into every aspect of home improvement, construction, and even buying and selling homes, but in the meantime here's the video which all media is allowed to edit for their own use - I haven't edited their video in any way, it comes straight from their publicity people. Remember to maintain a healthy degree of skepticism when watching - after all we don't even know if these things work yet:

Small & Family Home Improvement Businesses

I also get a lot of emails from people who work for small businesses, often times they are members of the family which owns the business, and sometimes they work for small marketing agencies that specialize in promoting small home related firms.

They are nearly always very friendly people who are genuinely enthusiastic about the product or service they would like me to tell my readers about, but the reason I don't write about them as often as they would like is because, as we say in home improvements, "you need a hook to hang it on" - in other words there has to be something to get my readers excited about, or at the very least to pique their curiosity - and mine if you want me to spend time blogging about it.

My Message to Home Improvement Publicists & Small Businesses

If you want bloggers like me to talk about you or your clients, then only contact us when you have something interesting for our readers and social media followers - things like seasonal discounts just aren't that exciting to most people, and they typically don't attract droves of new followers for bloggers.

You may be extremely proud of your family's 4 generation tradition of remodeling kitchens, or you may indeed do the best landscaping in your town - but those are the kinds of things your local newspaper readers might like, not the global audiences that blogs reach.

Tell us what's different and new about what you do - tell us a story that our readers haven't already heard a hundred times before - and we'll probably want to blog about it.

I'll come down off my high horse now, but I'll use this post as a reference and send it to all the publicity seekers who send me information I can't use.