Spread the Good News of Portable Sanitation

Take advantage of an opportunity when a reporter calls to learn about how you provide restroom services.
Spread the Good News of Portable Sanitation
Jim Kneiszel

I just got off the phone with a writer at a Chicago newspaper who wanted to talk about the portable sanitation industry. It was a table-turning experience, as I was a newspaper reporter and editor for many years before working for wastewater trade publications.

The writer emailed me earlier today and asked if I would talk to him about PROs. At first I was uncomfortable with the idea. Why would I take time out of my busy day to talk to a reporter? How would this be a benefit to me? What if I said something stupid and it was printed for everyone to see?

Part of my apprehension was nervousness about being the interviewee rather than the interviewer. I am used to calling people — including many of you over the years — and starting to ask questions. This has been my job since I was 15 years old working as a sports reporter for my local weekly newspaper. It’s as familiar to me as jumping in a vacuum truck and running a service route is for you.

BE THE EXPERT

I believe it’s good to get out of your comfort zone and try something new, so I called the reporter and had a nice chat about the history of portable sanitation and how they contribute to the success of special events today. He was keenly interested in the impact the growing number of large music festivals has on the restroom industry.

I felt good about stepping up and helping out because I was able to:

  • Brag about the good people who work in this industry. Rather than be the butt of an obvious joke, I want the general public to learn about the hardworking professionals who have been providing this critical service for so many years. I wanted to talk about how many of the founding families of portable sanitation are going on their third and fourth generations running reputable small businesses and contributing to the economy.
  • Promote the many advances that improve the restroom user experience. PROs have come a long way from plywood boxes and 55-gallon drums cut in half for drop tanks. The writer was fascinated to learn that many special events are upgrading their sanitation requirements, adding sinks to their orders at a minimum and often taking advantage of restroom trailers. He was surprised to hear that upscale trailers now have flat-panel TVs, fireplaces and other amenities to please festival users.
  • Broaden the writer’s network of sources so he could present a more accurate picture of the industry. I offered the name of a marketing manager at a Chicago-area restroom company who is plugged into the event scene there who might like to share his insights. I encouraged the reporter to call the Portable Sanitation Association International for another perspective on the industry. If a reporter is going to delve into a topic near and dear to all of you, I felt it was important to see that he gets the best information possible.

YOU CAN DO IT

I overcame my doubts and called the reporter back, and hope I did a good job of representing the portable sanitation industry. And I will take this time to encourage you to do the same if a local reporter reaches out to you for an interview. Better yet, take the time to reach out to a reporter yourself, be it a local newspaper writer, a TV news anchor or a radio announcer, and offer to share your expertise.

By becoming a spokesperson for the restroom industry you will:

  • Share valuable information for restroom users. Reassure the public that your goal is to provide clean, sanitary restrooms to offer them relief whether on the construction site or a backyard wedding. Explain your service procedures that ensure cleanliness. Ask the public to share their feedback with you and customers that rent your units. Sometimes you hear people say they’ve had a bad experience with a portable restroom. Ask them to give PROs another chance to impress them with service and well-maintained equipment.
  • Raise awareness about restroom vandalism. Talk about the challenges the restroom industry faces with vandalism, including graffiti, tip-overs and arson. Explain how vandalism costs PROs thousands of dollars every year in replacement parts and labor. Ask users to respect restroom contractors and the next patron by using restrooms appropriately and reporting vandalism they see to police, event organizers or by calling the number on the side of the unit.
  • Talk about a cause near and dear to your heart. Small businesses donate millions of dollars and free services to civic and charitable projects they believe in, but often it’s behind the scenes or garners little attention. Now, I know that you don’t contribute restrooms for a cancer fundraiser or a charity run strictly for the publicity. Your families often have a meaningful connection to these events. It can only help the events if you get out there and talk about them — and if you receive any positive publicity for helping an event, all the better.

EASIER THAN YOU THINK

At first you may not think of yourself as an effective communicator for the portable sanitation industry. Few people have a background or training to deal with a call from the media, and you may not consider yourself an “expert.” But in your hometown, you know more about portable restrooms than anyone else, and that qualifies you to speak on behalf of your industry.

So go ahead and answer that media call. It’s not as difficult as you think it might be. Take it from someone who knows. And there may be many benefits for your company and the portable sanitation industry in general. Folks will hear about your company for the first time, realize they need the services you provide, and give you a call. And every person you can connect with in a positive way will help in turn build on the reputation for all PROs.



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