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Become Your Market’s Storyteller

Springfield, Mo.-based brokerage Murney Associates, REALTORS®, celebrates the love of its community in blog posts and videos that rival professional media websites.

June 19, 2018

Last year, Kyle Drenon was driving through the east side of Springfield, Mo., on his way to shoot a listing with his Matterport camera when he ended up in the neighborhood of his childhood home. Drenon, the marketing director for Murney Associates, REALTORS®, took a short detour so he could see the house he lived in from the time he was 4 to 11 years old. Laying eyes on that two-story home on a hill, along with its front porch, brought back a flood of memories. As he sat in his car, wishing he could go in the house and see what it looked like today, he suddenly had an idea.

Drenon decided to create a video series featuring local Springfield residents who revisit their childhood homes. He called it “The Houses We Grew Up In.” As a lifelong Springfield resident, Drenon had been trying to find new ways to tell stories about people in the community and celebrate what local neighborhoods have to offer. “We feel like we’re uniquely qualified to do that because we’re in these communities every day,” he says.

Drenon finds community members to feature through his networks of colleagues, friends, and family. He then contacts the current homeowners to make sure they’re comfortable having the former residents filmed in their home. The main goal, he says, is to share why the community is so special to folks who grew up in Springfield and decided to stay in the area as adults.

He started with 10-year NBA veteran Anthony Tolliver, who’s now with the Detroit Pistons. Drenon solicited the help of Double Jump Media, a local video production company, to film Tolliver at his childhood home near Kickapoo High School in Springfield, where he grew up shooting hoops in the driveway.

Then Drenon and Double Jump Media profiled Doug Pitt, actor Brad Pitt’s brother and founder of Care to Learn, a Springfield nonprofit that supports children in need. Walking through the house he hadn’t set foot in for 22 years, Pitt was able to sit in the working phone booth that his father constructed inside the home—which he was surprised was still there—and see the full-grown tree that Brad had brought home from school in fifth grade as a sapling.

Next, they featured Major League Baseball player Lucas Harrell walking through the backyard of his childhood home, where he learned to play baseball with his dad and acted out wrestling games in the living room.

Most recently, the Murney Associates marketing team filmed Shawn Askinosie, founder and CEO of Askinosie Chocolate, back in his childhood home in the Brentwood area, where he lived from the early 1960s to the early 1970s. During his interview with Drenon and his new production coordinator, Hassan Khan, Askinosie said he felt like he was stepping back in time as he reminisced about his father, his little brother coming home from the hospital after he was born, riding his bike to school, and playing with good friends in the neighborhood.

Twila Hillme, CEO and managing broker of Murney Associates, REALTORS®, was all for Drenon’s video series when he pitched the idea last year. “Kyle developed the strategy we needed to take our marketing to the next level,” she says. “Our vision for this series is to show the people of our city why it’s such a great place to call home.”

About three years ago, Murney Associates, which has about 500 agents in five offices, shifted its focus from traditional marketing efforts to more of a content strategy by putting its creative energy and local expertise into blog posts and video marketing. Today, its blog is filled with information on local startups, restaurants, kids’ camps, historic homes, remodeling ideas, summer events, and, yes, real estate–related tips for buyers and sellers. The quality of the content rivals any local media website.

“We want to be the resource for home buyers to find not only the home of their dreams, but the right place in the right community in our market,” Hillme says. “By sharing the stories of the people who live here, we’re showing our clients and potential clients that we know this city better than anyone.”

Drenon recently expanded to another video project: a series of community guides called “Inhabit SGF.” The title gives a nod to the city’s airport code. They’ve already covered coffee culture, pizza parlors, and Springfield parks. “Video gives us a chance to show what we’re really like,” he says. “If we can show people what we’re all about at our company with video, that really gives us the leg up.”

Erica Christoffer

Erica Christoffer is a multimedia journalist and contributing editor with REALTOR® Magazine.

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