The data’s clear — the real estate market is coming back. Those residential and commercial developers and real estate professionals who grasp the influence of traditional media have historically utilized publicity as part of their marketing mix, but being truly successful in today’s marketplace requires using the entire available PR toolbox. With this in mind, here are 10 components of public relations that real estate developers and professionals can employ to enhance overall results:
1) Opinion research — to help win approval from communities and government. It used to be that the biggest barrier to development was earth, water and nearby surroundings, but now it’s public opinion, politics and the potent outrage industry. Public relations professionals are your antenna, conscience, and voice and the are key to the approval process. Public opinion research will help make the public and political landscape clearer, shape messaging, and energize the silent majority who often remain on the sideline during the approval process.
2) Market research to help understand the marketplace and your customers – including their needs, wants, desires and fears. To be understood, you first need to understand.
3) Community relations and corporate social responsibility – which will help significantly with winning approvals, building brand and reputation, and foster a deeper, broader customer base and more referral sources.
4) Social media and content marketing are public relations. Neither is solely about technology; both are about developing compelling content that drives engagement. Successful real estate professionals realize the full power of engagement.
5) Every real estate professional knows that online is THE place to be, and public relations should be utilized to drive SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Google rewards those online sites that are compelling, engaging, informative and insightful. Public relations professionals are skilled storytellers and content generators and should be a part of all SEO-related initiatives. The future of SEO is not in technology; it’s in the ability to tell stories that readers and Google will find interesting. And that’s public relations.
6) Publicity and media relations, staples in the real estate marketing mix, continue to be immensely important and help drive marketing and social media activity.
7) Crisis communications planning is no longer a luxury for major corporations. Every organization — particularly those serving multiple publics — should have a “Plan B” and be ready to address the question “What if?” And now, more than ever, real estate may involve complex litigation that requires effective legal and public relations counsel.
8) Media and presentation training to ensure spokespeople and salespeople are on-message and can handle difficult questions.
9) Special events to mark milestones, create excitement and build a community
10) Strategy, counseling and reputation management … because real estate goes beyond the transaction. As Warren Buffett said, “It takes 20 years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things differently.” . In the end, real estate goes beyond bricks and mortar; people buy with their heads and their hearts, so trust is essential.
Real estate transactions, big or small, are often complex, involve multiple parties and are shaped by emotion more than logic. If fully utilized, public relations is the lone communication discipline suited to help bring parties together, build mutual understanding and make deals happen.