Believe it or not, I was already intending to write about an idea you can use to obtain some free publicity for your agency during the Christmas season.
However, as if to validate the concept that ‘Timing is Everything,” this idea is about to receive a tremendous blast in its sails due to none other than the Disney Corporation, particularly its well-known division called ABC-TV.
ABC is launching a new primetime series called “Find My Family,” from the same producers as the longstanding hit, “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.” According to ABC, “With the help of a dedicated team of researchers, hosts Tim Green and Lisa Joyner guide people searching for lost loved ones through the emotional journeys that will change their lives forever.”
Do you know anyone who can help locate “lost loved ones?” Isn’t this a skill that virtually every PI in the country has? Do you see the opportunity here? I’ve said for years and years that one of the best ways to get your name in your regional news media is to find a local angle to a national story. This new show will be passing out that opportunity across the country. You need to be willing to pick it up.
Granted, over the years there have been several attempts at television shows that feature private investigators, sometimes with a nod to the sensationalistic spouse-caught-in the-cheating-act mode. But “Find My Family” is a tug-at-your-heartstrings kind of show, and it is produced by the same folks who have advanced the home renovation show to an art.
(Last year, “Extreme Makeover” built a house in my hometown of Toledo. It was a massive event. Obviously the local ABC affiliate had top-of-the-line access to the show’s stars, but every local TV station and newspaper covered the event. It was news, good, positive news. And those are the forces behind this new show. )
I can hear some Pursuit Magazine readers saying, “But I don’t want to focus on lost loved/missing persons cases.” Understandable. That’s fine. Just step aside and let someone else – – one of your competitors – – become the most visible, well-known PI in your market.
Here’s what to do:
Contact the news department of your local ABC affiliate. Tell them their new primetime show sounds like it has mass appeal, and ask if they would like to have a talented, professional, comfortable-in-front-of-the-camera PI like yourself do the same kind of work for them for a story, or for a series of stories.
If you are the chosen one for this project in your area, yes, it will take some of your time, and, no, you won’t get paid for it. But the positioning your agency will receive will be remarkable. And it extends beyond just the TV show. When the local Kiwanis or Rotary want a PI to do a presentation on locating lost assets, who do you think will be the first PI they will think of and offer that speaking engagement to?? The local PI on TV!
Can you imagine the kind of positive publicity and name recognition your agency will have if you do this on the local ABC news show week, after week, after week?
Now, there’s no guarantee every news editor at every ABC affiliate in every city will necessarily make a routine feature of this. Furthermore, some cautious editors may want to wait to see how the show takes off before spinning a local story off the show. But I think that most will do at least one story, and that story may feature you. How well it goes depends on the particular case, the talent of the reporter, the skills and comfort a PI has in front of the camera, etc. But the bigger the show becomes, the more likely local stories, even a local series of stories, will become a reality.
Thanksgiving, Christmas and the holiday season enable us all to focus on the people who are important to us: family, loved ones and close friends. But many people have loved ones they have lost touch with. So, as a smart marketer of your services, take advantage of it.
Three final points:
- What do you do if you would like to be doing this kind of local TV gig and the slot is already taken? Well, you’ll have to monitor things for just a bit to see how the show takes off; but you can still approach a local community newspaper or radio station and do the same kind of thing with them. Any news media or publication could do such a story at any time between Thanksgiving and New Years, and you can be the one interviewed, regardless of what happens with the new ABC series.
- In the news world, “Not now” does not mean no. It really means not now. Give them a chance to chew on the idea.
- Finally, if you pursue this marketing/warm-hearted holiday vehicle, let me know what happens. I’d love to hear of personal success stories.
Bob Mackowiak has been helping private investigators market their services since 1988. He has spoken about marketing at private investigation conferences from Florida to Alaska, is the author of the classic manual, “How to Market Your Private Investigation Agency,” and helped hundreds of PIs with his COPI Brochure Development System. You can learn more about Bob and his services at www.LetBobHelp.Homestead.com. His email is email@example.com.