Real Estate Public Relations: You Made A Big Splash – Now What?
It happens all the time in the highly-competitive world of real estate. A new multimillion dollar project is announced with lots of hoopla. Company leadership and elected officials turn the dirt at groundbreaking. Local news outlets cover the story. The developer gets color photos on page one of the major daily and everyone is happy. A few months later – zip.
Hundreds of new real estate projects – office buildings, retail centers, hotels, manufacturing complexes, hospitals and master-planned communities – are announced every day. But remaining “top of mind” for potential land buyers, tenants, homebuyers, retailers, and stakeholders throughout the months and years of construction after groundbreaking requires a news and digital media strategy. By leveraging major construction milestones and distinctive project features, your new real estate project can generate steady media coverage even before tenants unpack the first box.
Solid foundations aren’t just for buildings
As with any structure, a communications strategy is only as strong as its foundation. While the project is still on the drawing board, collaborate closely with project management to clearly define the project’s business goals. Do priorities include leasing the office space, luring retailers, pre- booking corporate and social events, pre-selling hotel ballrooms, hiring excellent staff for the property or attracting homebuyers? Determine newsworthy aspects of the project. Is it sustainable? Is it located in an underdeveloped area? Will it bring new amenities to the neighborhood or significantly revitalize the area? Does it have innovative design features? Are there any firsts? Will it create jobs and other economic impacts? Is there a focus on sourcing contractors and purveyors locally?
Equally important, anticipate your detractors and vulnerabilities. Will landowners express resistance? Will commuters fear congestion? Will homeowners allege gentrification, quality of life issues or home value reduction? Be prepared to counsel management on the need to mitigate such issues since no amount of PR can minimize the reputational damage of poor choices. Prepare answers to the likely questions, and recommend non-media strategies to cause communication – both listening and speaking – with those who express concern since many times the fears are based on lack of understanding or because residents were taken by surprise by the temporary noise, construction vehicles and dust.
Fitting the pieces together
Once you’ve identified potential news angles, match them to a broad range of news outlets and beats/columns to create an extensive media matrix and an editorial calendar to maximize coverage opportunities. Think outside the box – don’t limit your media targets to real estate and business reporters. Identify angles and pitches that appeal to the lifestyle, labor and employment, design, food, gardening, or technology and innovation columns.
Remember to pace your outreach. Don’t give away all your news at once. As the project progresses, continue to provide updates, photos, personality profiles and hard hat tours to interested reporters.
With strategic, business-driven preparation and a robust digital and news media plan, you can build momentum for your project, secure continuous media coverage, positively balance the views of naysayers and stay “top of mind” with your target audiences.