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Most commercial construction companies have responded to requests for proposals (RFP). It’s a common way businesses, governments and other entities are able to obtain many bids from builders, and then decide which firm wins the bid.

It doesn’t always have to be about the lowest bid, either. A lot has to do with whether the construction company has done similar projects, if its projects are completed on time and on budget, what final projects looked like, and if it can generate good publicity during and after the construction.

One thing that could help more commercial construction companies win the top building projects is working together with a public relations agency that specializes in commercial construction.

How can PR help businesses win construction projects?

That’s a fair question. A PR agency in a medium-sized southwest Florida city had a client that was a commercial design-build construction firm, and they were responding to an RFP from a government entity in the city limits. The project entailed the construction of a large parking garage, with multiple levels in a very busy downtown area.

The project was delayed a few times, and finally the city was ready to send out the RFP and receive responses from interested construction companies. There was a problem, though. The project was not popular among the residents and, in fact, many opposed it because it would be intrusive, blocking some of the water views from a nearby condo community. Not a great way to start out.

As the agency debated the best way to help our client respond, the PR agency knew the client had the technical ability, the experience and the talented team to complete the project to everyone’s satisfaction, as far as the construction went. What the agency wondered about was if this project would be a difficult one for the client, and ultimately, would it hurt their reputation if it ended up dividing the community?

Winning a bid is just the beginning—PR can help after the award too

The PR agency came up with the winning proposal, but it required coming to the realization that it’s not all about technical construction ability or experience. Here is how PR helped the contractor win the bid and also prevented a community backlash.

  • From the beginning, the agency thought about the project as a whole. It was more than the nuts and bolts of construction; it was about bringing a community together by addressing and eliminating distrust and anger. Most construction companies do not have a team dedicated to transparency, overcoming obstacles and developing goodwill and positive vibes for their project. Through PR strategies, the agency improved the client’s reputation and image in the community and increased positive feedback as well.
  • Because most RFPs are technical and have multiple sections with requirements for responding in specific ways, responses can be, well, very boring and wordy. The agency’s team of graphic artists and marketing experts reinvented the typical RFP response and created an attractive, yet technically correct, bid that received a very positive response.
  • In addition, the agency wanted to get buy-in from the residents around the garage and from other groups and government agencies, so it baked into the proposal our assurance that the team would create workshops and town halls where residents and community members could pose questions to our client’s architects, construction managers, site supervisors and other team members directly.
  • And one other important reason for a construction company to partner with an experienced PR agency is if something goes wrong. Who is going to manage communications, statements and social media if something unforeseen happens? Crises can be big or small, but a PR partner is at the ready. Having that assurance can make your bid even more appealing.

To win more bids and increase the bottom line, contractors need to highlight how they are different from the rest. The key, though, is thinking creatively rather than continuing to do the same thing over and over. The most effective way to promote a construction company’s best assets is by having a PR agency work as part of its team from day one.

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