Putting Your Profession in the National Media Spotlight

NAR launches public awareness campaign to educate consumers about all you do for them.

July 1, 1998

Consumers are about to get a clearer picture of the substantial contributions you make to the real estate transaction.

The NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®’ much anticipated public awareness campaign is set for a nationwide rollout July 1.

Information about your profession and the value of your services will reach the general public over the next three years through national television commercials. In many areas, the national campaign will be supplemented by local television and radio commercials, as well as newspaper and magazine ads.

“For years, members have identified a public awareness program as an important issue for NAR to pursue,” says NAR President Layne Morrill. “Now we’re delivering on it.”

The campaign takes national a successful California Association of REALTORS® effort. The slice-of-life commercials show consumers that REALTORS® save them time and reduce the hassles associated with real estate transactions. The campaign's cornerstone message: “You have a life. We let you live it. We'reREALTORS®.Real estate is our life.TM”

Creating a positive perception of REALTORS® and keeping you the chief point of contact for consumers—now and in the future—are among the campaign's goals.

Morrill believes the campaign ranks among the most important member benefits, along with NAR’s work on legislative issues and providing professional standards. “I think this campaign will be right up near the top with those two issues.”

Impeccable Timing

With fundamental changes sweeping the industry and technology bringing vast amounts of information and choices to consumers, it’s critical for REALTORS®to position themselves as professionals who provide service, experience, and expertise, says Sharon A. Millett, NAR president-elect.

“Consumers are questioning the value of REALTORS®, and now it’s time for us to stand up and say, ‘Take a look at the things we really do for you,’” she says. “I don’t think the campaign could come at a more timely point for the industry.”

Donald “Jerry” McKeon, NAR’s Communications Committee chair and vice president of Max Broock Inc., REALTORS®, Birmingham, Mich., says: “Right now things are changing dramatically on the national scene. Now is the absolutely perfect time for Realtors® to establish their place in the real estate transaction.”

Media Strategy

The campaign kicks off July 1 with television spots airing during peak viewing hours. Commercials will be broadcast during morning shows such as Good Morning America and Today; during early evening news programs such as ABC's World News Tonight, CBS's Evening News, and NBC's Nightly News; and on cable networks such as CNN, Headline News, A&E, Discovery, USA, and Lifetime. During the first 18 months, the spots will be shown nearly 1,800 times. (For the 1998 broadcast schedule, see “Mark Your Calendars: Your Profession Hits the Networks.”)

The media buy is designed to reach those consumers most likely to purchase a home—people aged 25 to 54, with combined household incomes of $50,000 or more. It will also reach other audiences—first-time buyers and sellers, move-up buyers,and nonresidential clients.

According to Bill Porter of Richardson, Myers & Donofrio, one of the advertising agencies involved in the campaign, the media-buying strategy is aimed at reaching the maximum number of people for the most economical price.

“The morning shows and evening news programs are good places for us to lend credibility to our message because they’re news and information programs,” he says. “We selected A&E, Discovery, and USA because their audiences have a heavy concentration of the demographics we’re targeting.”

The national campaign uses two spots developed for the California Association of REALTOR®, which saw a big return on its statewide campaign: As a result of the commercials, people actually changed their mind and chose to work with a REALTOR® on their next real estate transaction, according to C.A.R. research.

Research also showed that during the first eight months of the campaign, there was a 21 percent increase in consumer awareness of the role of a REALTOR®.

Before deciding to piggyback on the California campaign, NAR leaders looked at what several state associations were doing on the public awareness front. “The California message is clear and crisp, and the commercials have a national appeal,” says McKeon.

Two new commercials, produced by NAR to reach first-time buyers and sellers and nonresidential consumers, round out the TV portion of the campaign.

NAR plans to spend $30 million over the next three years for the public awareness campaign. The program is being financed by a special assessment of $15 per member per year for 1999, 2000, and 2001. The NAR Board of Directors approved the special assessment at the 1997 REALTORS® Annual Convention & Trade Exposition in New Orleans last November. NAR has also committed $4 million as an advance to launch the campaign in 1998.

In addition, RealSelect Inc., the company that operates REALTOR.COM, NAR’s official Internet site, is supporting the program with a $1.2 million contribution for the first year.

“Collectively,we all spend millions of dollars to advertise our properties and promote ourselves and our companies,” says Millett. “When members see the positive reaction to the campaign, they’ll find that $15 is a small amount to pay.”

Local Game Plan

The campaign isn’t intended to be limited to national advertising. State and local associations can reinforce the message by making their own media buys regionally and locally. Although the television, radio, and print advertisements aren’t intended for use by individual brokers and practitioners, NAR has developed guidelines for those who want to use the campaign's tag line—We’re REALTORS®. Real Estate Is Our Life—on company ads and personal promotion.

“This is a perfect example of our collective strength,” says Millett. “Here's an opportunity to pool our resources to achieve a very important member benefit.”

NAR has developed two strategies for maximizing the impact beyond the national level. One approach is to have local and state associations buy local media time and run print advertising and television and radio spots during the weeks when national advertising is airing.

NAR has negotiated preferred rates for local and regional buys, and it'll also pay for preproduction to customize TV and radio spots for each market. Currently, six state and approximately 30 local associations have committed to making regional buys.

“We're all trying to achieve the same thing at different levels of the organization,” explains Jeff Lubar, NAR vice president of public affairs. “For instance, a state association may decide to launch a radio campaign. And a local board might do a print campaign, while national is covering TV.

“Through a synergistic effort, all the media will be covered in that one state,” says Lubar. “That kind of joint effort builds on the national campaign. The national program is an overarching umbrella campaign. Anything done locally or regionally helps buttress that.”

Understanding Brings Business Opportunities

The result of all this, NAR leaders believe, will be an improved consumer attitude toward your work and an increased likelihood that consumers will call on you when they buy, sell, or lease real estate.

“Public awareness leads to an understanding of and preference for dealing with REALTORS®,” says Frank J. Sibley, NAR senior vice president of communications, “and that preference should help increase REALTORS®’ business opportunities.” Sibley also notes that the campaign is expected to dramatically raise awareness and usage of REALTOR.COM among homebuyers.

To gauge the effectiveness of the campaign, a benchmark study was completed last month by Audits & Surveys, New York City, to measure consumers’ attitudes toward REALTORS®. And NAR will follow up with annual studies to measure the three-year campaign's effectiveness.

Getting Help

State and local associations that need help with making local media buys should call the media placement hot line, 888/627-8858.

Mark Your Calendars: Your Profession Hits the Networks

Starting July 1, the National Association of REALTORS®’ commercial TV spots for the public awareness campaign will hit the airwaves. During 1998 the 562 spots will run during July, August, and September. The calendar below shows the number of times during the weeks indicted that the commercials will run.

1998

  Week of
JULY
1 6
Week of
AUG.
3 10
Week of
SEPT.
7 14
Total network spots: 82      
Good Morning America (ABC, 7 a.m. CST) 3 5 4 4 3
Today (NBC, 7 a.m. CST) 3 5 4 4 4 3
World News Tonight (ABC, 6 p.m. CST) 2 2 2 2 2 2
Evening News (CBS, 6 p.m. CST) 2 2 2 2 2 2
Nightly News (NBC, 6 p.m. CST) 2 2 2 2 2 2
Total network cable spots: 180      
Network: CNN & Headline News 30 30 30 30 30 30
Total direct response spots: 300      
A&E, Discovery, USA, Lifetime, Nick at Night 50 50 50 50 50 50

Editor’s note: In 1999, the number of spots being broadcast will nearly triple.

Elyse Umlauf-Garneau is a Chicago-based freelance writer and former senior editor with REALTOR® Magazine.

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