Ward to the Wise

REAL ESTATE PUBLIC RELATIONS: Are property staff ready for a media ambush?

One of the most critical roles in any real estate organization, whether it’s a commercial office building, an apartment complex or a retail center, is that of the property manager. Not only do they have responsibility for handling onsite operations, they also interact on a daily basis with tenants, customers and, on occasion, the media. To many, these professionals are the public face of the organization. And, when it comes to media, they are the company representative most Media-interview-multiple-microphones--real-estate-property-staff-media-ambush-wardccfrequently on the front line during a crisis. By establishing clearly-defined plans and policies, as well as providing media training, real estate companies can avoid embarrassing and negative media coverage that can damage reputations and create ill-will among customers and prospects.

Understanding potential risks

As with any entity that interacts with the public, real estate companies that evaluate their risk of exposure to crisis situations and implement plans and procedures to address and mitigate those risks are ahead of the game when negative events occur. When a building is on fire and tenants are evacuating, or an apartment resident has called the local television station to show sewage backed up in a unit, you do not have the luxury of time to plan how to deal with the issue. Advance crisis communications planning should be a top priority for every real estate organization.

Developing the message

Once you’ve identified potential risks, develop protocols and individual scenarios around potential crisis events and draft media statements that address the various scenarios. Most organizations have a roster of trained, designated spokespersons who can publicly address different situations. However, many times the people who are actually on the front line when crises happen, such as property managers, are overlooked. Are they prepared to handle a television reporter who shows up onsite with a microphone and camera? Even little things, such as asking a reporter to leave a property or not knowing how to re-direct questions to corporate designated spokespeople when appropriate, can be damaging to a company’s image.

Training the front line

While crisis plans and policies are essential, they are only as good as the training provided to those who are tasked with carrying out those plans and policies. Companies that implement rigorous and ongoing crisis and media training programs for those on the front line have a leg up on the competition. They have empowered their front line to respond immediately and appropriately in adverse situations, thereby protecting the company’s reputation and mitigating possible damaging media exposure.

Is your real estate company’s front line-ready for a media ambush? Ward welcomes the opportunity to put our real estate crisis planning and media training expertise to work for you. Contact us about our program.

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