public relations

What is Public Relations?

by Kevin Hawkins on April 30, 2018

I am still stunned by the number of people I meet in the real estate industry, including prospective clients, who really don’t understand what Public Relations is. More importantly, many people often have misconceptions about what PR can do. Most often, PR is confused with activities and outcomes that are entirely in the realm of Advertising.

{ 1 comment }

Paid Newswires: Are They Worth It?

by Kevin Hawkins on March 19, 2018

PR

One of the tools in the Public Relations’ publicity toolkit to communicate for decades has been a paid newswire. PR Newswire and Business Wire early on dominated the business in the U.S. What people don’t realize is that the reason one used a paid newswire has evolved with technology and our times. 

Initially, the popularity of newswires was fueled by federal regulations that required public companies to meet specific disclosure laws. With the digitization of news and the expansion of the Internet, firms like Marketwire and PRWeb emerged (and much later, GlobeNewswire), and so did the value proposition of newswires. Technology firms became the client of these more Internet-focused firms, and the value proposition became SEO.

{ 3 comments }

Consolidation: What PR Tactics Can Help?

by Kevin Hawkins on November 29, 2017

Process Integration

2018 could very well be the “Year of Consolidation” in the MLS industry. With the recent NAR move towards an “MLS of Choice” policy, we are likely to see a huge momentum build towards consolidation, especially in the second half of next year. That’s because smaller MLSs are going to find profitability under their current pricing model impossible. The simplest (and most often the best) solution will be to merge. By failing to plan for the role communications and PR plays within a consolidation, you are planning to fail. That’s because an effective communications and PR plan is vital to the success of any consolidation. Without it, at the very least, you will fail some of your members as they will not feel included, and at the worse, you will fail all of them, as they all, may feel, in some way, left out. Importance of PR PricewaterhouseCoopers wrote about mergers “the need for effective communication is often overlooked or underestimated in the flurry of activity surrounding a deal. Executing a strong and clear communication strategy is critical to successful integration.” That came from an accounting firm: the folks that typically ask why you are spending so much money on advertising and PR?! Ask any professional consultant who has lived in the world of company consolidations about the importance of internal communications and external public relations. You’ll quickly understand this is a corner you do not want to cut. It is a vital business tactic. In some ways, consolidations are all about communications. Let’s look at just a few of the practical tactical communications and PR activities that are needed for planning any successful consolidation: Strategic Communications What are we telling our employees, our vendors or strategic partners, our investors, or other stakeholders about the goals, timeline and expected outcomes of the consolidation? When are we telling whom, what and when? What are the best internal communication channels we can use to communicate to our staff? What are the right messages for each phase, and when do we communicate these and why do we use just these channels and the right timing? How do we mitigate the chances of internal communications being leaked externally, keeping internal messages internal? Pubic Relations What is our story, the story we want to tell? What are the key phrases that we want to emphasize and resonate with our key audiences? What are our core […]

{ 0 comments }

It’s the Biggest Marketing and PR Mistake

by Kevin Hawkins on September 18, 2017

Targeting Consistency

Stay on message. Those three little words sound so simple. But it amazes me how difficult it seems for companies – and their messengers – to do this. It should be the core of their marketing and PR compass. Consistency and repetition: That’s what every well-crafted marketing and PR program adheres to over the long haul. Unfortunately, most companies forget these crucial tenets and they stray. Or worse, they veer so far from their original course, they completely undermine what they have already have accomplished. Building brand awareness takes time, often a very long time. Building brand loyalty (a.k.a. understanding and being able to explain your brand to others), takes a lot longer. To accomplish either requires – you guessed it – consistency and repetition in your communication. You have to stay on message. You must repeat, I say repeat, and repeat it again, and again and again. Yes, everyone at your company, especially you, if you are running the company, will grow tired of your messaging. And if you are like most folks, you will grow tired of it literally years before it has even come close to needed to be changed and refreshed. Yes, there are exceptions, but these two ideas — consistency and repetition — are pretty much an iron clad, time-tested (oh, say since the invention of Marketing and PR) fundamental truth. Set in stone. Make that steel. The Challenge in Real Estate I get that it isn’t easy to implement a marketing and PR program in an industry that requires independent contractors to play a key role in the public execution of your communications. I feel for real estate brokerages, in particular, and their unique challenges when it comes to the communications equivalent of herding cats. Independent people like to do things independently: like creating their own unique communications. Their own logos, their own flyers and brochures, even upon occasion (Egads!), their own new releases. I’ve seen and read many of them, mostly in horror, because the vast majority of them are awful. And I don’t fault the creators for the creative: they are not trained marketing and PR professionals. They didn’t spend a couple of decades or more perfecting this stuff, much less going to grad school for a degree in this area. Yes, there are exceptions and on occasion, exceptional work. But even then, those independently produced pieces often stray from the corporate […]

{ 0 comments }

MLSListings Shares Best Practices for Public Relations

by Victor Lund on September 5, 2017

MLSListings

Public Relations is a key communication practice for leading MLSs. Silicon Valley, California-based MLSListings is leveraging Public Relations to promote the relevancy of the MLS in the best possible way. They have developed communications for the real estate trade media and the consumer media that are both having positive impact. Consumer Media Trade The real estate industry has brokers and agents who continue to invest in newspaper advertising. By and large, newspapers may not display real estate listings from the MLS unless there is a special consideration. To save brokers and agents money, MLSListings has developed an agreement with 12 BANG Bay Area newspapers that allow the newspaper to display the broker and agent contact information and listings (fair display) if the newspaper provides MLSListings with a monthly bi-line. Articles written by MLSListings CEO James Harrison or their Board of Directors President appear each month in these newspapers though the agreement. As a result, MLSListings has gotten $400,000 in media trade. MLSListings subscribers further benefit because every article points buyers and sellers to the value brokers and agents provide. Consumer Press Release MLSListings’ press release strategy has shifted from market statistics to lifestyle and is generating incredible results. For example, a snapshot from March of this year generated $120,000 in earned media advertising. It has become very difficult for Associations and MLSs to get decent exposure to their publication about market stats. For a variety of reasons, newspapers publish data from Zillow Group, CoreLogic, or RealtyTrac. This shift by media company pickups has caused MLSListings to innovate around lifestyle. Here is a sample headline that talks about foreign buyers – MLSListings Becomes the First Real Estate Platform in California to Offer Chinese Translation Silicon Valley Property Information Translated for Agents and Brokers MLSListings Compiles List of Most Affordable Bay Area Homes Silicon Valley Property Information for Homes Under $300k As MLSListings issues press releases, they not only capitalize on supporting journalists with interesting consumer stories, but also educate consumers about the MLS, working with real estate professionals, and viewing listings on MLS- powered consumer websites. MLSListings has parlayed their PR strategy into tens of thousands of consumer visits to their consumer facing website, MLSListings.com. Moreover, the press release gets published to hundreds of news wire sites driving links back to their website for improved search engine optimization. The secret behind the success at MLSListings is Myra Jolivet, the vice president […]

{ 0 comments }

Using Market Data to Drive Media Coverage

by Steve Cook on March 22, 2016

real estate data drive news

Are you getting published in your local media? Is your firm shaping the way opinion leaders and real estate consumers view critical issues in your housing market Associations, MLSs, and brokerages have access to the best local data ever available on trends in their local markets. Sales, prices, inventories, time on market—every day real estate professionals interpret these and other data to win the confidence of their customers and clients. You have a significant opportunity to turn market data into news that attracts business and establishes credibility. National data services like RealtyTrac and CoreLogic as well as sites like Realtor.com, Zillow and Redfin have perfected the practice of building awareness by creating news from their data. As a result, it is easier for consumers to track the non-existent “national” real estate market than their local marketplace. They are hungry for a better understanding of current trends where they live. Market trends aren’t always positive. Lower sales, falling prices, distress sales and tight inventories are part of the real estate business, but they can also generate negative coverage. If you are a credible source and on top of the market, you can mitigate potentially damaging data by putting it into perspective. Remember, the market is always working to someone’s advantage. Lower prices advantage buyers and first time home buyers. Distressed sales create opportunities for property management and investors. Tight inventories drive consumers to sign up with brokers for new listing notifications. Great communications programs highlight the good in everything. Your communications staff or PR firm can help you create news from local market trends, or you can turn to WAV Group Communications to create an effective communications program for your market. Below is an example of how we might handle one of the hottest stories in real estate—chronically low inventories: February Housing Market is Shaping up to be the Sellers’ Market of a Decade February home sales were stronger than normal as demand continued to reduce the average time that houses are selling in Ourtown, according to the latest data available to XYZ Realty. Lower inventories of homes for sale could reflect a national pattern that is creating unusual opportunities for sellers as the spring buying season opens. Sales rose 2 percent from January and now are running 5 percent higher than they were a year ago. New listings also increased 6 percent, but total homes for sale are still below […]

{ 0 comments }

Do you have a PR plan for 2016?

by Kevin Hawkins on January 21, 2016

Public relations may be one of the most underappreciated and misunderstood tools in the average real estate brokerage’s marketing arsenal. Yet, the more you understand public relations and how it can be fully integrated into your marketing plans and sales activities, the greater your ability will be to make both more effective. As we begin a new year, ask yourself this question: Do you have a PR plan for 2016? What is PR? It’s no wonder most people are confused when trying to describe what PR really is. Trying to find one universal definition is futile: there are dozens. Here are just a handful of definitions from PR practitioners that show you the breadth and depth of what PR actually is: “Public relations is the art and science of sharing genuine, credible, relevant news and information to grow, maintain and protect brand acceptance, awareness, reputation and sales, when appropriate. Public Relations creates measurable, fact- based conversations, events and activities conceived to generate positive, third party endorsements and target audience buy-in.” –Deborah Weinstein “Public relations is a highly strategic discipline that’s integrated with marketing to achieve business goals. It positions companies and spokespeople with key audiences, whether internal or external. Public relations complements an integrated marketing campaign with measurable results garnered through media relations, social media, thought leadership, industry analyst relations, investor relations and/or special events.” – Jayme Soulati “Public relations communicates the news, influences the news, receives the news, and responds to the news for a brand via the media. It’s the art and science of talking to the right audience in the right voice. PR is the communication hub of an organization. It influences and shapes a company’s image, reputation, brand perception and culture. PR connects a brand and its public via direct messages or editorial media including print, broadcast, radio, digital, video or social media.” –Lisa Buyer “PR is the process of making a heartfelt connection between a person or organization and the people who can truly benefit from and care about their message. It’s an awareness of what makes people tick, facilitated by a desire to build communities, engage and discuss, and give voice to worthy projects. PR isn’t mass messaging, spinning truths, or a barrier between the public and the person represented. PR should make genuine connections.” -Shennandoah Diaz What can PR do for your brokerage? Because PR has so many different components and uses every communication channel […]

{ 0 comments }

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 […]

{ 2 comments }