How To Become a Media Pundit

Make yourself available to reporters and receive great publicity.

November 1, 2001

Have you ever noticed that some brokers or salespeople seem to get more than their share of free publicity? What makes them so special? It's a mystery to their peers, as these pundits are usually not the biggest, nor the most profitable, or the best professionals in any other quantifiable terms. Yet they get all the attention. What these people have simply learned to do are work at getting noticed and meeting the needs of reporters.

If you want to become a pundit, here's what you need to learn to do:

  1. Get familiar with news publications.
  2. Learn reporters' needs.
  3. Become the information source.

The first thing you need to do is to make a list of the media where you would like to be featured. Be bold and creative. Real estate is big business, affecting 20 percent of the gross national product, and it is one of the leading economic indicators, along with job data and consumer confidence indexes. What you have to say is important, so don't limit yourself to your local paper. Include local business journals, and the bureaus of national publications that cover economic news in your list of contacts. You can find them all online on the search engines.

Next, find and catalog all the reporters that work for those publications and do stories on real estate and the local economy. Most publications will have a columnists' list. But, you still need to read the publication and identify which ones cover the real estate beat. Read the reporters' columns, so you can get a feel for their personal writing style. Some writers like to give opinions, others don't. Now you are ready to prepare your resume and contact information. If you are representing a brokerage, then the contact person needs to be the highest ranking officer possible, preferably not a PR person. Most reporters prefer to quote decision makers.

That brings us to meeting the reporters' needs. Reporters are always on deadline so anything you can do to save them time and effort will be appreciated. Provide your e-mail address, cell phone number and pager number for quick access. Reporters won't abuse the privilege of having these contact tools, but if they have them, they will be more tempted to use your company or you in a story simply because you are easy to reach. Reporters are also constantly looking for fresh story ideas and new information. You can be helpful by offering ideas and topics of interest.

Become the information source. Offer new perspectives and data that you come across in the industry that might not be so readily available to outsiders. If the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS has come out with a new report, make it available to your favorite reporter. If your MLS has just done the monthly DOMs and solds, make the market conditions available with a comment or one from your president. This is information you are paying real estate organizations for and it should benefit you. However, don't expect to be the focus of the story simply because you gave the reporter an update. Be patient. You will get included in a story sooner or later.

Finally, follow-up. Call and ask the reporter if the information was helpful, or could the reporter use something else? There's a reason why you want to do this one-on-one. If you send out a general release, it will likely be treated as a promotional piece. But, if you take the time to call, and offer exclusives, you could get more results. What you want to do is build a relationship with the media one reporter at a time. Remember, the news media needs information, so you are just as valuable to them as their ability to give you publicity is to you.

(c) Copyright 2001 Realty Times. Reprinted with permission.

Blanche Evans is a writer/editor and CEO of evansEmedia. Formerly, she was a senior editor with Realty Times, where she was named by REALTOR® Magazine as one of the most influential people in the real estate industry.

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