Friday, July 17, 2009

Can a Low Profile be Good for Business?

The house that I live in was designed and built over 100 years ago. As was the norm in those days, the builder took great care with details, craftsmanship and materials. Whenever I do work on it, or have work done, my goal is first to maintain and restore rather than replace and renovate. Though it's mostly brick, it has a lot of trim and porches constructed of the wood available at the turn of the century. It's always amazed me that 90% of it is original and has remained intact. The other ten percent has been an ongoing source of annoyance and expense. I have had a number of exposed portions of the steps, railings and porch decking replaced at different points.

Unfortunately, my limited knowledge of wood and its resilience to weather has left me with having to redo some of the same repairs. Over the last week, I've been discussing with Jim, a longtime carpenter who can build anything I can draw, options for replacement materials. I want to be true to the architecture of the house, but also don't want to have to make the same repairs a third time. I've been able to do research, but finding a knowledgeable supplier has been a bigger challenge. Stay with me, there is a communications message here.

So of course I was pleased to see a profile in the local paper of a man who runs a hardwoods company talking about the best woods for old houses -- in Alexandria. Great, I'll call him and get a recommendation, buy the material from them and be all set for the next century. I Googled the company name. Nothing. If something is on the web, I am usually pretty good at finding it. I could find nothing on this company. It's astonishing that someone could be in business for any length of time and manage to NOT be on the web. Anywhere. Talk about keeping a low profile.

This left me did the article get written about this company? Was it a fluke discovery by a reporter, or a PR pitch? If it was the latter, they really missed the boat. The value of the company's earned media was completely erased by its web invisibility. Pretty astounding in 2009. I wonder how you could even do that if you tried.

In thinking about it, maybe that works for the hardwoods guy. Maybe in some cases, there might actually be an advantage to staying off the web. And that could be an opportunity for an "anti-PR" firm. Which sounds like really hard work. Which makes what we do almost seem easy.

Copyright 2009, Bremmer & Goris Communications, Inc.