Jennifer Wezensky is president of JW Public Relations, a national boutique PR firm based near Kalamazoo, Mich. Wezensky created the new PR Toolkit for Real Estate Professionals. The toolkit is the most comprehensive, journalist-written and reviewed guide on how to develop and implement a low-cost PR campaign, with valuable articles as well as customized press release templates, example press releases, sample public relations plans and news angle ideas for real estate pros. Visit www.jwprtoolkits.com for more information.
Become a Real Estate Expert in the Public Eye
By getting involved in local organizations, media, and government, you can show consumers in your market that you are the real estate expert par excellence.
January 1, 2011
There’s no better time for real estate pros to position themselves as industry experts. As we recover from twin crises in housing and the general economy, people are anxious to get back into the market as buyers, sellers, and investors. And the media is paying very close attention to housing and commercial sales.
If you combine your market expertise with solid public relations techniques, the news media and the public will seek out your opinion — and, in turn, you will get more leads from the free publicity. You can share your insights through a mix of online commentary, news releases, guest columns, media appearances, social media, and participation in trade groups. This mix will increase your contacts, boost your reputation as an expert in real estate, and convince buyers and sellers that they want to work with you.
Here are five ways to reach a bigger audience and build more business.
Focus Your Expertise
Chances are you’re already fluent in several specific areas of real estate. You may know a little bit about everything, but stressing overall knowledge doesn’t let you stand out from the crowd.
Instead, consider your unique interests and experience. For instance, everyone’s concerned about energy efficiency these days; maybe you have a stronger interest than most in green home trends. Or perhaps you’re attracted to historic homes, or to modern design.
Look at your business and calculate where most of your transactions come from. Is it suburban homes, downtown condos and apartments, retail or industrial space, vacation properties, or something else? What’s the mix of your clients, and where do you have the most success? Are your buyers mostly looking for first homes, or are they established families upgrading their lifestyle? What are the lifestyles of the geographic areas you serve? The appeal and features of location are, of course, part of the dream people are looking to buy, and you should have the “insider” information about the unique and even overlooked benefits of specific locales.
In essence, what is it about real estate that attracts you and gets your juices going? Do a strong and precise evaluation of what you know best, what you wish to know more about, and what will get traction in your area. Then focus on those issues that come out at or near the top of the list.
Blog What You Know
Think of the blog as the 21st century newsletter. It’s a written conversation with the public and potential clients about your thoughts on real estate and what they should know as a seller or buyer. Don’t make it sound like an ad: Your blogs should be conversational in tone and informational in content. The more a reader of your blog learns about real estate, the more readily they will give you a call.
Your blogs should be as specific as practical about the areas of expertise you’ve chosen. A blog on how to buy a new home is too general to stand out in an Internet search. A blog on what to look for when buying historic homes in the Midwest will bring in readers who are really interested in just those types of homes, while identifying you as an expert guide. The more you write on the specifics of your market, the more you attract people with the motivation to enter that market.
Also, be consistent. Writing once a week is a good target, but you don’t have to write long. Breaking up topics into a series of two or three blog posts helps bring people back to your site. Continue this way, and your archive becomes a ready resource for new clients.
On the technical side, use a blog service such as WordPress and Movable Type that automate the formatting, layout, archiving, and indexing of your blogs so you don’t have to be a Web wizard to publish online or be found by search engines. You should focus on the content of your blog, not the technological minutiae.
Get Active in Trade Groups
Serving at a high level for a national trade group such as the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® brings instant credibility. But there’s a just few positions like that for approximately 1.1 million members.
Still, associations at the local, state, and national level are often practically begging members to be on committees and boards. And don’t think of strictly real estate trade groups, either. If your interest is in environmental building standards, historical preservation, downtown redevelopment, or another area of real estate, you may have many groups in which you could become active. Active involvement in even one group gives news media an identifying phrase to attach to your name that adds to your credibility and brings you ready fodder for news releases and blogs.
Know Your Local Media
Get to know the business editors and reporters of print, broadcast, and online media in your markets. Get to know the features editors, too. What you’re selling is lifestyle, and that’s the features editors’ business. Read or listen to their stories to find out the specific interests and coverage priorities of each of these journalists. Find out their deadlines and how they want news releases delivered. Make sure any news release you send is about real news. Ask why someone outside your real estate office would care about the story. If you can’t find the answer, it’s not news.
Follow these approaches to get noticed by the local press:
- Respond to the news. Journalists are always looking to localize state and national stories. If a story affects your market, send a short and timely release with your comments about the local impact. Editors eat that stuff up, providing it isn’t fluff. Any release should be straightforward, in a news article style, with any opinions kept in quotes.
- Let the media know you’re writing a blog. Reporters constantly look for news tidbits for columns and story leads, and if your blog is a good source, they’ll pay attention and quote your blog. Online media will link to it.
- Send tips to reporters about stories that aren’t about you and your business. If you send a tip about a great new architect in town, the story will be all about the architect, but you’ll be quoted as someone who knows and appreciates good building design. Your credibility in the eyes of journalists and potential clients will go up another notch.
Know Your Legislators and Local Officials
Don’t shun a government official because you don’t like his or her party. All politics is local, and legislators will listen to you on specific issues dealing with real estate. Position yourself as someone who can be called for public hearings, and when you are, send press a release on what you said.
Gaining a reputation as an expert in your field isn’t as much about knowing more than anyone else as it is about making people aware of what you know. It takes work, but the payoff is a reputation that brings more business through the door.