Oct. 24, Recycle Your Mercury Thermostat Day: A PR Bonanza for Contractors
In 2018, TRC targeted Oct. 24 as the start of its annual Recycle Your Mercury Thermostat Day. We created this special day for use as a public service message to raise consumer awareness. The message was that those “old” units, which might contain mercury, need to be safely recycled. Whether done by a qualified HVACR technician or a DIY consumer, the idea was that the customer should not carelessly throw away a unit when a replacement occurs.
We were fortunate that Chase’s Calendar of Events accepted our submission for official acknowledgment. Chase is the unofficial bible highlighting celebratory days ranging (in September), for example, from Bed-And-Breakfast Day to Emergency Nurses Day.
When we created this special event, the broader intent went beyond fulfilling the marketing and public relations efforts of TRC’s mission. It also provided a boost and an annual anchor point to help our wholesaler and contractor partners with their publicity efforts.
Let me explain. In the news business, you must answer two elementary questions when coaxing a journalist to cover your story: Why should I care, and why should I care now? This applies to traditional media, but it also includes podcasters, YouTube celebrities and bloggers. The answer to the first question is to raise the apparent safety issues related to an element – mercury – which is a threat when it enters the environmental stream.
Oct. 24 and Recycle Your Mercury Thermostat Day answer the second question of timing because this is when people and HVACR technicians should be thinking about mercury-containing thermostats. The idea is to piggyback the services your business offers, including replacing thermostats, with this day.
Here’s how to use this national, annual special day for your public relations efforts to boost your company’s presence in the markets you serve.
Tip 1: Write a press release touting Recycle Your Mercury Thermostat Day. Follow the simple Who, What, When, Where, Why and How formula.
Tip 2: Send the release to your local media. Media directories can be costly, so just Google local media, and you should have an instant list. If you advertise in ANY publications or media outlets, ensure the advertising and editorial departments both receive the press release. Do NOT ignore weekly newspapers. Despite lacking cachet value on the media spectrum, they are unusually well-read in a local market and more likely to run a civic-minded press release than any other media outlets.
Tip 3: When sending out the press release to broadcast outlets (TV and radio), at the end of the release, add five to 10 frequently asked questions. For example, you can write: Potential questions for [name of owner or tech]:
- Why is recycling mercury thermostats so important? 2) Is it safe to replace it yourself? 3) Who is most qualified to replace these old units? 4) How do I recognize a mercury-containing thermostat? 5) What happens to the units after you collect them (think TRC)? Because Oct. 24 occurs a few weeks after the start of autumn, this is a perfect opportunity to turn the conversation into tips for the upcoming winter season and your services.
Tip 4: Personalize the press release. Offer a free examination of the customer’s existing thermostat if they are unsure whether it contains mercury. This allows you to meet a potential customer and assess their future heating or cooling needs.
Tip 5: When should you send out the press release? Send it at least one week before Oct. 24. For weekly newspapers, send out the release TWO weeks before, given their print cycle, unless they’re strictly online.
Tip 6: Be sure to add this public relations effort to your annual marketing calendar. Every year, it should enter your to-do list as a simple, virtually free effort to raise your company’s image as a responsible community member, an expert on an environmental issue and someone knowledgeable about heating and cooling.