8z Real Estate

Putting Storytelling Back Into a News Release

by Kevin Hawkins on May 25, 2017


The art of storytelling is celebrated today as one of the most effective ways to communicate. When I first started practicing public relations, the most effective news releases were the ones that told a story. They were called feature news releases. I’m not sure what happened to them, but over the years, that term has all but disappeared from the PR vernacular. In fact, Google yields a paltry 5,700 search results for the term, which makes me very sad, as it once was the most effective way to get a reporter or editor’s attention. It was a great way to cut through the clutter of the boring, mundane and often useless and news-less releases that were being sent out – and stand out from the competition. I once wrote a feature news release that was about Home Equity Lines of Credit, or HELOCs, for Great Western Bank. Three different magazines picked it up verbatim and a dozen newspapers quoted its content. Recently, I convinced a hot startup we work with – zavvie out of Boulder, Colorado – to let me bring back the feature news release. I thought it could be the single most effective way to tell the story of how zavvie helps consumers. Reporters and editors, I argued, would be stuck on thinking of zavvie as solely a B2B product. Because when we launched zavvie in Colorado, we focused on how it was a digital farming tool that leveraged social media for real estate agents. Trying to break out of a reporter’s B2B mindset is extremely challenging, I told our clients. But a feature news release that could tell a powerful consumer story – from a consumer’s point-of-view, might at least help change the mindset and begin a new dialogue. Authenticity is key The key to a good feature news release is having a great story to tell. Fortunately for zavvie, they have some phenomenally talented agents, and one in particular, Chris Cote out of Castle Rock, who works for 8z Real Estate — owned by the same folks who created zavvie –was more than willing to help me out. The key was to be able to tell the story from the consumers’ point of view, and Chris had the perfect couple with a terrific story to share. So I built the entire feature news release not around Chris the real estate agent, which is what most PR […]


Fixing Real Estate with People and 2.0 Technology

by Kevin Hawkins on May 10, 2017

Zavvie Logo

In Colorado there’s a modern brokerage called 8z Real Estate that has become known for its collaborative work environment and home to top producing teams that support one another. And despite all the competition – after all it is in RE/MAX’s backyard – it’s become a dominate player on Colorado’s Front Range. Most recently, 8z Rea Estate garnered the attention of The Denver Post, which selected Boulder-based 8z Real Estate as the “Top Workplace” of 2017 for midsize companies in Colorado. And 8z and its founder Lane Hornung were also recently profiled in a Colorado Business Magazine story “8z Real Estate: Purpose, alignment and trust.” But the most interesting part of the 8z Real Estate story is its spinoff, a sister company, called zavvie.  The hot Colorado start-up was created based on the technology developed for 8z Real Estate agents, and it was recently feature in both the Denver Business Journal – “Boulder entrepreneur launches social media site for real estate agents” – and Boulder’s Daily Camera story “’Real estate 2.0′: Boulder’s 8z spins off technology into new company zavvie.” Together, these firms share the same DNA, as both of its principals – Hornung and Stefan Peterson – are the chief architects of the business strategies for both firms, fusing decades of both real estate and technology experience into building these next generation real estate businesses. Right now both companies are only operating in Colorado, but the results of both these firms are impressive, and worth watching. The Denver Post “Top Workplaces” Honor 8z Real Estate took top honors from a survey of more than 48,000 Colorado workers. The Boulder-based brokerage landed at the top of The Denver Post 2017 list of Midsize Workplaces for companies based in Colorado. 8z topped established national brand names based in Colorado including Safelite Autoglass, New York Life, and First American Title, as well as every real estate brokerage firm in Colorado. Midsize workplaces surveyed included companies with 150 to 499 people. The Post list of all “Top Workplaces” includes other household names such as USAA, Edward Jones, T-Mobile, Charles Schwab, and many others. “Being named as the ‘best of the best’ by the most independent and respected media institution in Colorado is the highest honor,” said Hornung, 8z Real Estate founder and co-founder of zavvie. “But more importantly, knowing this list is created based on the ratings provided by our own agents, that’s […]