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About Northwood Northwood Realty is among the largest independent real estate companies in America. They cover multiple states and their 38 offices are focused mainly on the densely populated areas of Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio. They are a full service firm with 974 agents, offering residential, finance, relocation, and insurance. Northwood is pioneering a program for agent training that introduces an effective model for other brokers to consider. It’s called Northwood Tech Trainers. About Northwood Trainers Northwood deploys five field trainers to support just under 1000 agents.  The ratio is effectively one trainer to every 200 agents. The field trainers also have one supervisor, bringing their total department count to six. Tech trainers are assigned and integrated into offices and physically visit each office at least once a week. Agents can sign up for 30 or 60 minute sessions as often as they like, covering basically anything to do with technology—from the many Northwood programs, to helping setup a new phone or laptop, social networking and more. They are always available by telephone and email and additional tech support sessions can be held using JoinMe in group sessions or one on one with an agent/manager or admin. Program Costs Northwood considers technology and training a core benefit of their brokerage. They do not charge agents any technology fees nor do agents pay for training. They offer an extensive array of technology products that are all integrated into the CoreLogic AgentAchieve platform, including agent website, agent CRM, agent CMA, Property Panorama virtual tours, Listen 360 Agent Ratings, Gmail, SkySlope Transaction Management, Five Street, zipForm Plus, VoicePad, eProperty Watch AVM, Collateral Analytics and others. If you do the math, you can multiply 1000 agents times the fees for each of these technology solutions and recognize that they are making a major investment in agent productivity. Northwood took a big risk with this strategy a few years ago. They recognized that charging agents would be a barrier to the adoption of these technology tools, so they decided not to charge. They also recognized that offering products without a significant effort to drive adoption and training would lead to low adoption. By creating the Tech Training department to support these products, they have accelerated agent adoption beyond many of their peers. Now, in the fourth year of the plan, production per agent has risen significantly with many more agents lifting their production into the top production categories in their company. In […]

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Just Spell My Name Right

by Victor Lund on January 21, 2016

It’s a new year and you are, no doubt, plotting your communications strategy for 2016. We published an article about the top 10 posts of the year on Facebook recently that ignited deeper thought about communication strategies that work. Entertainment is certainly one of them. If the Disney family is the first family of Entertainment in American History, P.T. Barnum is certainly a cousin. Legend has it that he is also responsible for one of the most famous quotes in the PR business: “I don’t care what you say about me, just spell my name right.” If you read the writings of Victor Lund, you know that I write fast and spell horridly. My mother, saint Stella, was kind enough to keep every report card from my school days and I assure you that I received an A in every English class throughout my education. I am not sure where I went off the track. In high school at Shattuck-St. Mary’s, I converted to word processing. I doubt that I submitted much written work at all after that. A reliance on spell check may be my downfall. Having a mother who was raised in the Alabama, growing up near Fargo, North Dakota, and a year of University in England are also likely contributors. The most likely candidate is my failure to proofread my prose. Thankfully, Kevin Hawkins leads WAV Group Communications. He is deliberate and careful with the message of every communication, including the title, length, paragraph, sentence structure, and the fastidious attention to the handling and the nurturing of every chosen word. In my experience, his only equal may be Rozlynn Crew from the Houston Association of REALTORS. If you allow for the Canadian influence, John Mosey of the Northstar MLS is in the same league. So let’s start the year remembering a few rules of our industry. RE/MAX is always capitalized. “Re/Max” is wrong. When referring to the NAR, REALTOR® is in all caps and includes the ®. After the initial use, REALTOR without the ® is fine. There is a whole bunch of information on the dos and don’ts of using the REALTOR mark on this page: http://www.realtor.org/letterlw.nsf/pages/trademarkmanual Communications began to replace advertising in 2006 when online publishing and email marketing began to show better results. Here we are, one decade later and so many real estate firms of all flavors are missing this opportunity to engage important […]

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Making Vendor Partnerships Work

by Victor Lund on January 21, 2016

The tragedy of software in real estate is lack of adoption by agents. Brokerage firms and MLSs who invest dearly in technology solutions start out with the hope that agents will use it and success will come. Since hope is not a strategy, more work is required to find success. First of all, there is a difference between a site license and a user license. As you enter into partnerships with vendors, consider user licenses. That will bind both the vendor and the company to a mutual goal of driving agent adoption of the application.  Companies should not pay license fees for software that is not used. Adoption Strategy has a few components that should be considered in advance of choosing your vendor partner. They include onboarding agents, training, support, and communicating best practices. Who’s in? Onboarding and Managing Agents – This is an ongoing effort that never subsides. Basically, it is important to manage two lists. The first is a list of agents who have adopted the solution. The second is a list of agents who have not. At a frequency that is agreed upon, email and telemarketing communications to non-users is critical. Perhaps the list should be reviewed once a month. Firms need to add new agents to the list as part of the onboarding process. A warm introduction is a good start. It is also important that you advise the vendor when the agent departs the firm. Add a requirement to your software license agreement to get a user report each month. Let’s Get Started Training is obvious. The best practice is to offer three training classes – basic, intermediate, and advanced. Depending on the application and the number of updates, you may want to have a training class that introduces new features as they come out. Organizations should consider live training and online webinar training. Sometimes you need to stand in front of the agent, but usually a webinar will suffice. Agents are busy and always juggling priorities. It is a good practice to record the online training and publish it to YouTube so agents can watch it anytime. Add a requirement into your software license agreement to have the vendor support the company with regular training. Can I get some help please? Agents will naturally abandon an application if they get stuck. Sometimes a feature is broken or the user is not fully aware of […]

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The 7 Keys to A Successful MLS Conversion

by Victor Lund on January 12, 2016

If my history recollection serves me, Vancouver is where Canada’s first real estate board was formed in 1888. The current Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV) has been in continuous operation since 1919. They are also members of a leading regional MLS that encompasses the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board as a partner and the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board and the British Columbia Northern Real Estate Board as customers. Together they transitioned 16,000 Realtors to Black Knight’s Paragon system. Many industry insiders are touting it as the smoothest conversion in history. WAV Group connected with Eileen Day, Chief Operating Officer, and Mike Pedersen, Chief Information Officer, to get a summary of their change management process where we learned the 7 keys to a successful migration. Each of these is critical to success, so they are in no particular order. Planning Every component of their conversion was planned in advance. They developed a plan for everything and spent two years planning ahead. The entire process was engineered in advance, and goals were set for every component of the plan right down to each detail, including specific goals for training attendance, help desk wait times, and communication uptake. Budget Very few MLSs plan for the financial stress to the organization in advance. The resources budgeted for conversions will vary from market to market, but if you planning a conversion, you should benchmark between $50 to $100 per user as extraordinary expenses. Done correctly, system conversions are expensive. Triple Your Staff Most large MLSs have systems for managing the effectiveness of the help desk, technical, training, and communications operations. In the case of help desk, excellence is maintaining averages of under 2 minutes for answering a call and call time averages in the 3-5 minute range.  One major choke point of a conversion is when you overload your systems during the parallel period and once the cut over happens. Under no circumstances do you ever want to let your members down with poor service. As a rule of thumb, factor in a 3x to 4x increase in your staff size for 6 months and provision overflow support from your vendor. In REBGV’s case, the staff went from 6 people to 20 people. Adhere to your benchmarks for hold times and continue to add staff to keep up. Test, Survey, Analyze This group did trial runs to test everything. As an […]

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Is there a hidden downside to lead generation?

by Kevin Hawkins on December 16, 2015

Real estate lead generation research tells us only about 1 or 2 percent of all purchased online leads become transactions. Another way to say that is 98 out of 100 times, an agent fails to turn a lead into a client, or 98 times out of 100, they are being rejected. Yet, the conventional wisdom in real estate is that you only need to turn one lead into a transaction to pay for all the leads you’ve purchased this year many times over. But is there a problem with this logic? Is it looking at only one side of the equation, that is, the upside? But isn’t there a downside once one considers all the collective human capital that is expended to find that one needle in the proverbial lead generation haystack? Is lead generation also creating a tremendous waste of human intelligence? The cost of human rejection Most of us probably don’t think too much about the impact of the massive rejection that online lead generation is creating in real estate today. There is a reason we have robo-calls and don’t have door-to-door sales anymore: As humans, it’s tough to tolerate this kind of continuous rejection. It’s likely the main reason why sales call centers have incredibly high turnover rates. When someone hears “no” 99 times out of 100 calls, it has to be demoralizing. Is it really any different in real estate? A UCLA-lead team of psychologists found that two key areas of the brain appear to respond to the pain of rejection in the same way as physical pain. The study’s lead author, Naomi Eisenberger, told ScienceDaily, “There’s something about exclusion from others that is perceived as being as harmful to our survival as something that can physically hurt us, and our body automatically knows this.” We know rejection is painful, yet real estate subjects tens of thousands of hard-working real estate agents to this process all the time. Is it any surprise, taking these numbers into consideration, that real estate agents struggle in following up on all the leads their brokers give them? (See this WAV Group study.) One has to wonder if online lead generation isn’t contributing to weakening teams and agents. Breaking bad habits An argument can be made that the correct way to handle this type of lead generation is to use employees and agents who are independent contractors to handle these leads […]

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Stop Buying Technology

by Victor Lund on December 16, 2015

It’s the season. WAV Group is fielding satisfaction surveys to determine how agents and brokers use or don’t use technology offerings. We even encounter a curious situation where we are measuring satisfaction with broker solutions and MLS solutions in the same market. Sometimes the easiest answer to a strategy is the simplest. What WAV Group sees today is that less is more. Too many technology solutions is real estate have feature creep. Regardless if it is a broker CRM or the MLS system – they are too complex.  In real estate technology, usability trumps functionality. Change is Hard The most difficult thing for anyone to do in life is change. Moreover, the older you are, the harder it is for you to learn or change.  Real Estate people are old. We see this constantly, and even NAR yells it from the rooftops. Before you switch systems, think very carefully about the overhead that it will cost your organization and users in functionality. Everyone takes a big hit. In most cases, you are taking your user intelligence way backwards to inch forwards. Tread very carefully and try not to change too often. Training Trumps Everything WAV Group does not have a specific gauge on training effectiveness. But we are deriving certain solutions that can help. First, training needs to be offered every day in every way! Remember, every day there is a pile of new agents entering the business that need to learn everything. Moreover, unless you have been training hard for years, even your most experienced agents are not trained on everything. Think about training plans for each product you offer. Create training for Expert, Intermediate, and Beginner. Think about training methods – concierge 1 on 1, in office, online webinar, How to Articles – FAQs, recorded webinars for all levels of experience. Watch your help desk calls! Inform your trainers of the top 10 reasons why people are calling and use that to drive training. Yes, you do need to begin every training session on how to recover your password! Measure Success Surveys are pretty cool because you can see (by email address) exactly who is screaming for training. Section that group out of each of your surveys and have your trainers attack them.  After 3 months, go back and survey the same people who were looking for training and survey them again, again, and again. There is a […]

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Hire a Curator

by Victor Lund on December 16, 2015

A quick Google search brings up the definition of curator – it is a word derived from the Latin word curare – meaning, “take care.” A curator is a manager or overseer. Traditionally this word has a connotation of maintaining historical things because it is an official position in museums, but that is not the context intended here.  The role of a curator in today’s business is to keep things current. WAV Group Communications starts projects with an audit. We begin by understanding the variety of audiences that the company engages. We then take a look at how MLSs or technology companies, or brokerages are communicating with their audiences. What we find is typically dated, stale, gross. Under the watchful eye of a curator, this never happens. A curator scours every touch point with every audience and keeps it clean and fresh. Agent images are always uploaded and there are no grey skulls. Old logos vanish and are replaced with new ones. Documents that have not been used or updated in years are refreshed. Social media updates happen every day. Press releases happen monthly. Intranets are hydrated with how-to tips, community stories, and celebrations. Consumer sites have daily contributions and newsletters go out on a regular basis. A curator is not necessarily the person who creates all of this content. It’s a management and supervisory position that draws communications from across the enterprise to leverage the expertise of the organization. They find out from the help desk what the most common calls are and create a task to create training materials. They speak to leaders about successful strides in the business and work with a PR firm to distribute a press release. They monitor social media and build reports on reach and study effectiveness, and so on, and so forth. I challenge you to take a few moments and look around your business. Look at every communication to every audience. I guarantee that you will find dozens of flaws. If you don’t have time to do this, hire us to do it for you. If you need a curator, we can step in and build the plan and kick it off. We can even train or hire someone to manage it after it is on the right track. WAV Group Communications is a full service public relations and communications firm. We work on retainer with brokerages, technology firms, and MLS […]

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Advertising contrarian Bob Hoffman gave a talk at Matt Beall’s Hawaii Life Real Estate Brokers’ Worthshop 5 conference last week, which is a wake up call to real estate agents and brokers everywhere. Why are we spending so much time, energy and money marketing to 18-34 year olds when the greatest, wealthiest, most powerful spending group in the world in nearly every major product category is 50+ years old? Remarkably, Bob helps us answer that question and a more important one: How should we be marketing to the over 50 crowd? Full disclosure up front: The majority of the marketing world hates Bob Hoffman and thinks he’s dead wrong. The only problem with this is that all the facts and research say he’s right. Why do we market to Millennials? Bob has researched this extensively and his findings are jarring. His overall conclusion is that most marketers have a herd instinct: They are marketing to Millennials because everyone else is and somewhere there must be someone who has the facts and knows “why the hell we are doing this?” Bob’s been looking for that someone and looking for the facts to support this movement, but has come up with contrary research at every step. He cites Nielson, saying: People over 50 are the most valuable generation in the history of marketing They are responsible for over half of consumer spending They outspend the average consumer in nearly every product category: food, household furnishings, entertainment, personal care, etc. They account for 55 percent of all package goods sales and dominate 94 percent of consumer package categories They outspend other adults online two-to-one, on a per capita basis They buy about 60 percent of all cars He also shared this nugget: “You know how you see all of those Millennials in car commercials? Well, people 75 to dead buy six times as many cars as people 18-24.” Then he dropped this statistical bombshell, met with gasps from the audience: People over 50 account for more than 70% of the wealth in the U.S. If they were their own country, they would be the third largest economy in the world – bigger than India, Japan and Germany. The biggest problem, says Bob, is this: People over 50 are the target of only 10% of all advertising in the U.S. Marketers are not over 50 Listening to Bob, you immediate start to ask yourself, […]

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Brokers Need To Sharpen Their Value Story

by Victor Lund on November 11, 2015

WAV Group is re-launching a number of brokerage brands today. Re-launching a brand does not require a brand to change, but the brand communication changes. We review how the brand is communicated everywhere, but especially where the brand has the greatest reach – in your technology applications. A brand re-launch begins with a strategy to tell the story about why your brand is a good choice. We identify why your managers (employees) work for your firm so competitors do not hire them away. We define the reasons why agents (contractors) work for your firm so they cannot be recruited away. But most importantly, we identify why consumers trust your firm so they do not wonder elsewhere. The single most important place to reinforce your brand is in your presentations. What is the story that you tell managers when you are recruiting? What is the story that managers tell agents when they are recruiting? What is the story in your listing presentation that agents are conveying at the kitchen table? In most cases, the brand story is old and tired. When I show the story to principles, they are appalled. Firms forget to update their brand story. Moreover, everyone’s listing presentation is looking the same these days, and that is a problem for brands. WAV Group thinks that brokerage firms should perform an hygienic cleansing of a brand each year. We are happy to help. Marilyn Wilson of WAV Group is among the top marketing professionals in our industry. Before her decade-long experience as a founder of WAV Group, she was the EVP of Marketing for Fisher-Price, one of the top 10 international brands in the world. Here is a short paper that talks about some innovative solutions that WAV Group clients are implementing in one area of their new brand communications – the listing presentation. It’s a free paper that hopes to give you some good ideas. If you want to dig in deep, give us a call.

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Is Email Volume Killing Your Company?

by Victor Lund on November 3, 2015

Lingchi is the roughly the word that the Chinese use to describe a form of torture whereby a person is executed by 1000 cuts. Dying the death of a thousand cuts has become a familiar business term that can have any range of meaning. WAV Group fielded a question from large brokerage firm – “how do we reduce email in our company?” Communication in a company is good, but too much communication as an adverse impact. What follows is my reply. Calculate the spoilage – If it takes each member of the company an hour to clean out their inbox each day, how many hours of productivity per day is the company losing? You can only control how many messages you send. Do an exercise where you look at the emails that you send and count the number that you could have not sent. Set a goal for each person to reduce the number of emails sent each day by 20% – 1 in 5 emails sent by professionals is typically the number that is easy to reduce. Carbon Copy is the devil. Never copy someone unless they are pivotal to the conversation. We live in a forward world. We see something that we like and we forward it. Consider putting those things into a folder and creating one email per week with your highlights. Reply with care. Don’t just Reply to All. Reply with a purpose. Turn off Read Receipt – If you are getting a read notice on all of your emails, you are insane. Turn that off. Make it o.k. for managers to discourage email use and coach offenders. Curate Content Expand the range of weekly reporting to bi-weekly or monthly. Develop a corporate bulletin board on your company intranet or send out a company newsletter with notes from around the company. Encourage the use of Facebook for broadcast publishing Here is a series of articles about Inbox Zero: http://www.43folders.com/izero

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WAKE UP BROKERS! Hablas Espanol?

by Victor Lund on November 2, 2015

Today, 85% of homebuyers are white, but that is changing rapidly in America. The new and growing homebuyer population is Hispanic or Latino, and most do not speak English well enough to have confidence in a real estate transaction written in a foreign language, with an agent who is not bilingual. Yikes or Opportunity? We think opportunity. From 2010 to 2012, the number of Hispanic homebuyers increased 38%! Today, only 20,000 of the nations’ 1.2 Million members of the National Association of REALTORS is Hispanic. By the way – all of the stats quoted here look at data collected in 2010 and 2012. You can figure that the growth rates have gone up significantly. From 2010 to 2012, the number of Hispanic Households grew from 4.25 million to 6.69 million – a 58% increase. The number is likely well over 10 million in 2015. A Simmons Market Research survey recorded that 19% of Hispanic American origin speak only Spanish. Ergo – 1 in 5. Only 17% of Hispanics are fully bilingual, and 55% have limited English proficiency. The United States has more Spanish speakers than Spain. Does anyone have a truly end-to-end bilingual home buying or selling brokerage? In the 20112 censuses, 17% of Americans are Hispanic. If you are a Broker in New Mexico, 44% of your population is Hispanic. Texas is 31% Hispanic, followed by California at 30%, Arizona at 25%, Nevada at 20% Colorado at 15% and Illinois at 12%. Total US Hispanic population is now is nearly 35 Million people and growing. If you do not operate a fully bi-lingual brokerage, you are missing a huge opportunity. California has 14 Million Hispanics with housing needs and more than half of them are not proficient enough in English to contemplate a real estate transaction. When we talk to brokers about this, the common answer is that “we have some Spanish speaking agents.” #FAIL! Dive a little deeper and you see that they do not have bi-lingual forms, bilingual inspectors, bilingual appraisers, bilingual property managers, bilingual marketing materials, bilingual listing presentations, bilingual agent contracts, bilingual websites, bilingual mortgage, etc. – Bilingual everything! Whites have a birth rate of 1.1 for every death. Hispanics have a birth rate of 8.9 for every death. Over 1 Million new Hispanic households were formed in 2012 compared to a decrease of 704 Million non-Hispanic households. The market is changing folks, Vamonos! It’s […]

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It’s November, the beginning of budgeting and planning for a successful 2016. WAV Group studies the online effectiveness of many of today’s leading brokers and provides audits and advisory services on optimizing these programs. The true measure of online effectiveness is closing a transaction. Unfortunately, we have observed that closing a transaction is coincidental to online marketing and not a direct correlation. The relationship between an agent and a consumer is akin to dating. Both parties must be attracted to one another. There needs to be a connection and the development of things like trust and confidence. It’s a dating game where decisions are based upon emotion rather than facts and numbers. If I were to build a lead conversion team for a real estate brokerage today I would start by doing a personality profile to find the types of agents who are easiest to like and trust. Smoke that in your lead management pipeline. Obviously this does not work for real estate because of the democracy of a brokerage culture. We are all equally qualified, right? If you agree that you cannot force a relationship between a willing buyer and a random agent who gets a lead, then you can position the process of online marketing differently. Online Marketing is for Sellers, Recruiting, and Retention. Online marketing is for sellers. During a listing presentation, the agent explains that buyers always use the Internet in the process of looking for property. Your firm will place the property on all of those popular-kid sites. This is so easy to do and say that I doubt any seller would be “like-wow! That’s amazing.” So you need to do something different than blast listing syndication because everyone does that. Heck, it’s a free service from every MLS in the nation. That is why I am so bullish on Buyside – it allows the agent to tell a seller how many buyers they are working with today who is looking for a home like theirs. If I am hungry to sell my house, I would choose the agent who has 10 buyers in their hand over an agent that plans to go shake the bush to find one. Show results from online marketing, not your online marketing plan. Tell the seller “every agent you interview is going to tell you about how they are going to plaster your home all over the Internet. I […]

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Preparing for Success in the Coming Year

by Marilyn Wilson on October 27, 2015

As we approach the end of another exciting year in real estate, now is a great time to sit back and reflect on the best ways to help prepare your members and organization for success next year. We have talked many times over the years about the importance of staying in touch with what is happening in the industry today. Here’s what can happen when an organization is out of touch: They can delay decisions because they seem difficult or controversial causing the organization to fall behind or lose its competitive advantage. Instead of responding to the waves of change, organizations can be torn apart by the jaws of defeat. MLSs and Boards that do not stay close to trends can enforce outdated rules and regulations that hinder member success. They can make decisions in isolation of the needs of homebuyers and sellers, weakening the relationship of their members with the buying public. Worst of all, a Board of Directors that does not stay in touch may not even know it is out of touch if it does not reach out beyond its local community to see where the real estate industry is going. When conducting strategic plans we hear from brokers and board members that their organization is out of touch with today’s reality. So how do you get your board in touch? Here are some of our suggestions and ways we can help. Attend an Industry Conference Many of these events can be very valuable for the content that is presented and the networking and peer to peer learning. The NAR Annual conference, CMLS conference and the AEI conference are great opportunities for MLSs and Associations to get in touch. WAVes of Change™ Educational Series WAV Group offers another method for staying in touch with trends and learning from progressive MLSs and Associations around North America. We call it the WAVes of Change™ Series. This exciting new online program allows every one of your Board members and department heads to keep in touch on the ever-changing trends in our business WITHOUT leaving home. This quarterly live webinar will include exclusive, early looks at WAV Group research as well as the ability to learn from industry experts about technology trends, consumer insights and broker and agent issues. Consumer Research Panel WAV Group has been working with Associations for some time on engaging the consumers in their markets, most notably Houston Association of REALTORS®. Through our […]

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3 Ways to Leverage Your PR

by Kevin Hawkins on October 27, 2015

A potential client called recently to engage the services of WAV Group Communications. Typical to most initial conversations with many potential clients in the real estate industry is the misunderstanding of what public relations is. I assured him it was much more than simply writing a good news release and publishing it on a paid wire. That topic alone is another column. But the conversation reminds me of how little time PR people take to educate our industry about what PR is. To help in this effort, let’s explore a crucial area that shows how powerful strategic PR can be using leverage. 3 Ways to Leverage Your PR A major component of public relations is publicity. Once you successfully gain the attention of news media and they run a story about you, your firm or your new product, a lot of companies just sit back and move on to the seeking out the next reporter for the next story. Don’t do that, because once a story runs, you’ve just gotten started. This is where leverage plays a crucial role is strategy public relations. There are three crucial channels you must leverage: External, Internal and Influencers. External Leverage The entire reason you sought publicity in the first place was for a specific purpose, right? Perhaps to help raise awareness, drive sales, incrementally increase revenue, introduce a new product, create a buzz, build moment and interest – whatever your goal, you should take that coverage and leverage it. For example, imagine a story that runs in the NY Times that mentions your new product. Your first act of leverage is to socialize it. Share it through your social media channels: Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram – focusing on the ones you use regularly, even if it is only one. Using popular hash tags are crucial to this act of leverage. Mastering these will exponentially increase your total audience reach. This is where most folks stop. What they forget is not only does your target audience love the NY Times, but so do the major TV news networks. And other newspapers, trade reporters, and bloggers who follow your industry. PR pros will use this story as leverage to gain the attention of other media outlets. The Times coverage not only legitimizes your news, it gives you the opportunity to find another angle to build on what they have reported, giving other media outlets a […]

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Brokers Must Immediately Audit Mobile

by Victor Lund on October 12, 2015

Mobile traffic is 50% for most brokers today. Sadly, the mobile solution that you purchased a year or two ago is probably behind the times. Not only does your website need to be “responsive” to any mobile browser, but you’d better have a damn good app too. The first thing that you should do is try it. Make sure that you download your app, and use it every time you need to look up something on property. Moreover, be sure to use the mobile browser. This consumer experience is lost on most brokerage operating principles. The second thing to do is audit your agents and office managers. Ask them to show you the company’s app on their phone. You will be astonished at the number of agents and managers that do not have the app installed. It’s a good time to ask them “Why not?” There may be a very good reason. Promote Your App On Your Website Sometimes the simplest things can make enormous differences in your business. After getting everyone in your firm to download the app, market it everywhere. We audited a brokerage firm’s online strategy recently and made a simple suggestion. We asked the broker to code in links to their mobile app on every page of their website. It is a simple procedure; place the icons and links to the download sites. We were astounded by the results. Their app downloads went up by more than 3000 percent. The funny thing is that consumers visiting their mobile website were already presented with the “Download Our App” option when they first hit the site. The website would detect the mobile solution and make the appropriate recommendation. Unfortunately, that option disappeared if the user did not select it immediately on the first page. I guess what we learned is that the consumer wants to access the content first, then download your app after you have demonstrated that your website is the one they want to use for home search. In other words, app conversion is happening at a much higher rate on page view 3 or 4 than on page view 1. Promote Your App On Yard Signs Most brokers have some form of mobile call to action on their yard signs. I have seen everything from sign riders to banners, to QR codes. They all work, but perhaps something more elegant is to simply put the […]

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One thing that most executives are not trained for is talking to reporters. Some have a natural talent for it, but most learn the hard way. Having spent more than 25 years coaching executives on how to best work with reporters, here are the seven most important thing that all executives must know before they talk to the press. Getting ready The first thing to remember when a reporter calls is that most of them are writing on a deadline. Even though you may have sent them the material days ago, and they may have already contacted you with a couple of immediate questions, if they don’t file a story immediately and sit on it, they will be likely to call back. When they do call back, chances are they will be on a tight deadline and you need to be prepared. Rule 1: Take a breath and think after every question. You may know what you immediately want to say, but if you take a pause, it gives you time to reflect to make sure you phrase your answer the best way and prevent you from providing an answer from the gut. Rule 2: Speak slowly. One of the most common problems executives have during an interview is talking too fast or transitioning from one subject to another too quickly. Slow down. Some reporters might record you, but most won’t, which means they have to take notes. Slowing down your speech helps increase accuracy. Rule 3. Most important one – You do NOT have to answer every question a reporter asks. This is the biggest mistake that most executives make: They think they have to answer every question. You do not. But you must explain why you can’t answer the question. Example, “How much money did you earn last year.” Answer “As a private company we do not report earnings, but I can tell you that over the last decade, we have been a profitable company.” Rule 4. What to say if you don’t know the answer. Unless you are a highly skilled dancer, don’t dance around the question. This is often the second biggest mistake most executives make: They don’t get their facts right or make up an answer they think they should know. When you don’t know the answer say so and offer to get the information reporters need and circle back. Rule 5: Everything is on the […]

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