LOS ANGELES: Water treatment company Culligan International has tapped independent firm Riester-Robb (R-R) to handle PR, advertising, and media duties for franchisees in three of its five US regions, according to the Phoenix-based firm.
R-R was awarded the account following a national search overseen by consultancy Jones Lundin Beals, Chicago, said Darryl Young, R-R's LA-based director of PR. Work encompasses 89 Culligan franchises in 19 Pacific Northwest, Central Plains, and Southwest US states.
"Initially, the task was strictly media and advertising," Young said, noting that R-R "pushed hard" to include a PR component. "There are so many misconceptions" about draughts, water hardness, and hydration, among other water issues, he said. "With something as generic as water, there's a need to create news.
"[With] such a limited ad budget in some markets," he added, "PR would be the lead component."
R-R's initial efforts include a franchisee messaging workshop, to be held this July in LA. The event will feature media training and skill development, Young said, covering various topics, including ways Culligan dealers can use the power of news organizations to advance the company's viewpoint.
The firm will also provide Culligan franchisees with "PR 101 tool kits" and response cards that "get [them] to think like people who want to be useful and friendly to the media," Young said. Ideally, some dealers will emerge as camera-ready Culligan Men, water- industry experts able to speak on behalf of their regions.
While R-R will work with Culligan to craft broadly scoped campaigns that can easily be repositioned with messages relevant to local water conditions, Young said the firm would also look at launching efforts on a national level.
"We'd love to see [branded] water coolers in every newsroom," he said, "so when an issue arises, people naturally think, let's talk to Culligan."