REAL ESTATE’S UPSCALE IMAGING DIRECTIVE
OVER THIRTY FIVE YEARS OF PITCHING REAL ESTATE COMPANIES, writing stories and urging placement through news media has resulted in a realistic appraisal of the most important aspect of a larger marketing perspective.
Public relations. Media relations. Upscale imaging.
Let’s start with the premise all forms of real estate hold individual characteristics and serve people as the foundations of living in one way or another.
If you own, manage, buy, sell, develop or do anything with real estate, tell someone something about it to make it a successful and serving business. What you say about real estate, when and where you say it and how you get the message across is the basis of the success of public relations.
Some pearls of wisdom that will certainly cushion the understanding of what is public relations and how can public relations play an important role in the world of real estate comprise the focus of this writer’s views:
Know What PR Is
Public relations is an intangible, proactive means of manufacturing consent through specialized information, positioned by third-person news media intervention. As an inexact science, public relations is a highly specialized form of marketing communications that is separate and different from advertising. PR is personal sales whereas in perception advertising is impersonal sales.
Ensure the Right Fit
Do not expect to receive sound professional public relations counsel from a full-service marketing agency, unless one of the principals is a veteran PR specialist and practitioner.
Ask For Recommendations
When you are looking for PR, awareness, and marketing positioning for your real estate project, ask for recommendations from industry friends and call some of the well-known real estate reporters and editors for their input.
As a principal of your company or upper management executive, commit to working directly with your public relations firm to realize optimum value for invested marketing dollars. The larger the real estate company, the easier it becomes for top executives to be too busy for the process and miss numerous opportunities for excellent media coverage. Recently a PR colleague recounted his experience with one of Atlanta’s major firms where he was never given access to the leaders and later assigned to the marketing director’s assistant ‘per se’. This is a primary example of a company helping its public relations consultant fail. Agendas and politics abound in middle management whereas the results are calculated by the executive at the top.
Invested time and access to the CEO/and or President are the major ingredients for success, once you have determined you have engaged a PR professional with a solid reputation. At one time or another, PR people have been hired and later fired because the real estate executive is too busy to get into the program. Or, the principal is just too busy to work with the firm and brings people into the relationship that have little or no experience in determining what their story is, or what stories are.
A trusted veteran client once bluntly said he had figured out the PR proposition! The asset manager of one of Atlanta’s largest industrial business parks said he decided the majority of responsibility in the client/agency relationship always rests with the client. Challenge and work side by side with your marketing/PR consultant and you will be shocked at your program’s ultimate productivity.
Realize if you are a regional office of a large corporation in another city – two major REITS in Atlanta come to mind – corporate policy usually dictates all marketing activity be coordinated by the corporate office, thus minimizing the chances of achieving maximum PR media placement locally. It is virtually impossible for a corporate PR executive in Washington, D.C., Indianapolis or Jacksonville to know what is going on in Atlanta, much less have the contacts to achieve the results your project deserves. So, in this prime area of concern, allow the local principals to choose and work with the PR professional, then report back to corporate headquarters. Politics in this case is counterproductive and ineffective – always.
Listen carefully to your agency principal and team in terms of what to expect, what will work and what won’t work, and how long it will take to develop a solid effective media relations effort that is productive.
Always be aware of marketing consultants who want to provide an extensive marketing overview program and charge a lot of money for a product which will likely never be executed in total. Think specialization when you know you have stories to tell. Full-service agency marketing means "PR is always lost as an afterthought."
Have Goals & Don't Get Caught Up in the Details
Make the commitment to support a public relations program that has both short and long-term goals and realize the costs are "pocket change" compared to normal real estate development and operation costs.
Have the Right Perspective
Grade your agency’s productivity on the related marketing value of what was produced over a period of time rather than what was not produced. It is absolutely a given PR is an investment and insurance for real estate companies in terms of cost evaluation. If you receive mention in story placement, it is good. Do you realize one story in the right publication at the right time may equal a $1 million real estate deal? Advertising remains important, yet the cost of upscale imaging for real estate if a proven professional is engaged is chicken feed.