Real Estate Public Relations: Houston Business Journal’s Paul Takahashi talks about why real estate is the hottest beat in Houston
Q. A significant number of articles in the Houston Business Journal are real estate related and the real estate beat is the only one with two reporters. Why is that?
A. Real estate is the bread and butter of the Houston Business Journal. It ties into all industries and touches everyone, both commercial and residential development. Regardless of whether it’s a law firm, an oil and gas company or a healthcare clinic, all businesses need properties to house their operations and all Houstonians need a place to call home. There is an incredible demand for real estate news in the Houston market and I joined the paper a year ago to specifically cover residential real estate. Together with Roxanna Asgarian, who writes about commercial development, we provide comprehensive coverage of the real estate market in Houston.
Q. How do you decide which story is covered only online and which also in print?
With the 24/7 news cycle and the demand for instant news, the Houston Business Journal has created a digital news platform with daily news stories posted to our website. We also provide two daily e-newsletters featuring stories of the day and send breaking news alerts to subscribers, giving our readers instant access to the news stories that matter to them.
We continue to produce the well-read weekly print edition, which provides a more comprehensive overview of the week in the news. Not every online story can be included in the print, so we prioritize them based on reader interaction including page views, comments, likes and shares. The digital and social platforms act as a barometer for what will get covered in print.
While our website focuses on breaking news, the print issue delves deeper in the story and provides a broader, more detailed commentary. It explores not only why things happen but also their impact. The two products really complement each other.
Q. You are very active on Twitter – do you look for stories and sources on social media?
A lot of realtors have social media presence that allows me to connect to my readers directly and get a sense of not only what is read, but more importantly, which stories resonate enough to be liked, shared and commented on. This guides which stories I cover and how I cover them.
I do come across stories on social media, for instance the now famous $150 house in the Heights. The news was trending on social media but offered little detail. We were able to take it further, talk to the owner and provide the full story to our readers, enhancing it beyond what was shared on Facebook and Twitter.
With the advent of digital and social media, people have the power to self-publish their news, and it is a reporter’s role to ask why they are doing things, what is their motivation and present comprehensive, objective information to the public, not just retweet a link.
Q. The Houston Business Journal tracks click-through rates of its online stories. What are your readers most interested in reading about?
Transactional stories always do well – a property that sold, a community that broke ground. We always go beyond the basic news, and talk to different players, the developer and the broker, so we give our readers the full picture.
Trend stories, such as latest apartment and house amenities or how the market is doing are also popular. People want to know what drives their homes’ values.
Lastly, people are voyeuristic, so the “first peek” stories showing what the best home builders and best apartment developers are offering also fare well with our readers. They know we go beyond just a slideshow and provide a robust business story along with the photos.
Paul Takahashi covers residential real estate for the Houston Business Journal (HBJ). He came to HBJ from the Las Vegas Sun, and previously held editorial positions at The Jersey Journal in New Jersey and The Times in Johannesburg, South Africa.
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