American Alarm is famous now

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12/01/2007
The Boston Globe today has a long and flattering profile of American Alarm, run by the Wells family in Arlington, Massachusetts. Cool for them, but also a reminder to the rest of you independent alarm dealers that the mass media loves a "contrary to popular belief" story, and you should be putting in calls to your local papers to try to drum up similar stories, which are good for business. See this paragraph: Giant corporations like ADT, Brinks, and SimplexGrinnell dominate the $26 billion-a-year US industry. "However, there are lots of small- and medium-size firms represented," said Georgia Calaway, spokeswoman for the National Burglar and Fire Alarm Association, based in Irving, Texas. I mean, holy smokes! There are also lots of small and medium-sized alarm companies? Next thing, you'll be telling me there are more restaurants than just McDonald's, Burger King, and Wendy's! Contact your local paper and let them know you're a security expert, have security installations all over their coverage area, and that you are willing to be a source for stories. Security is a hot-button topic in the mass media today, but many of them are incredbly ignorant about the private security industry. When I was down at the America's Fire & Security show in Miami, a reporter from the Miami Herald contacted me about a possible story. I figured she was interested in the topic on which I was presenting, campus security, since it was only a few months after the Virginia Tech shootings. Nope. She wanted to do a tour of local nightclubs to see if they were fire-safe, a riff on the Station fire (albeit, a few years after the fact). Why was she calling me, when there were fire officials and fire product manufacturers all over the show? Because I was a fellow reporter and she was too unsure of herself to just ask one of the guys she didn't know. I told her to just call a fire marshal and to get him/her to take her through a tour of nightclubs, checking to see if they were up to code. How did she find one of those, she wondered. Seriously. That's what most reporters at small (and sometimes large) papers are really like. They're not the guys on CNN. They're usually young, not very well paid, and have poor social skills. That's why they gravitate to a job where they sit in front of computers all day surfing the Internet and maybe calling someone every once in a while. Generally, they want stories to fall in their laps. If you call them, they'll probably call you back when they're on deadline looking for a story. I know people get intimidated by the media because most of the stories you see out there on the big news channels are negative and accusatory, but think about your local daily's business section. They probably tend to write captions on photos like this gem from the Globe story: Wells A. Sampson, president of American Alarm and Communications Inc.: 'We want to continue to grow our business." If so, they can't be all that blood-thirsty. Are there company executives out there who aren't looking to grow their businesses? That would be news.