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DECEMBER 21, 2017 //     

Overcoming milestone announcement blues: using data and research to bring your real estate story to life

Credit: Zillow.com

By: Steve Smith

Working in a niche public relations practice area like real estate, I am often asked for ideas about driving coverage for clients outside of the typical announcements around project milestones, sales and marketing activities, new tenants and similar traditional news cycles.

What we hear frequently from reporters and editors – and not just those covering housing, real estate, business and economics – is they’re interested in hard data for stories. Professional opinions on current trends and market activity alone are not enough.

As real estate PR practitioners, this presents us with an opportunity to take a broad view of the resources available within our communities to help our clients tell and secure coverage for stories that rely on research, data and their unique insights.

While we could include many more, here are four best practices we employ to add color to industry data, secure compelling coverage for our clients and elevate their stories beyond the same old recycled announcement themes.

  • Leverage Brokerage Research: Whether you’re helping a client reposition an industrial asset or secure a tenant for a new office project, chances are your local commercial real estate brokerage will have recent market research and data to support your client’s public relations objectives. Brokerages such as JLL, CBRE, Colliers and Kidder Matthews publish extensive volumes of valuable market research data across the country. Build relationships with the research teams and subject matter experts at these firms. You will likely find they can help guide you to a wealth of research and data that can serve as a proof point for your PR strategies and tactics.
  • Position Residential Housing Studies: Studies and reports from real estate companies on a wide range of housing market topics, such as Zillow’s annual Consumer Housing Trends Report, Redfin’s special reports or Realtor.com interactive reports, provide compelling content that can be used to validate or draw contrasts to a client’s offerings. In addition, recurring monthly reports on sales trends from your local Multiple Listing Service, housing price data from the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Indices or new residential construction data from the S. Census Bureau are released on a monthly or quarterly basis. This leads to the next best practice…
  • Recognize Timing is Everything: I cannot overstate this one enough. Particularly in the case of the recurring data sets referenced above, you need to know exactly when these housing reports will be released. As with the commercial real estate brokerages, get to know key individuals at these organizations and companies. Ask to be included on their press distribution list – so you know when reporters know. Once the data is released, you’ll have mere hours to get a reporter’s attention. Try to anticipate what trends you’ll see and identify quickly your pitch angle. Or reach out to the reporter first thing in the morning to let them know you have an industry expert available to provide commentary on the new numbers, the trends they’re seeing in the marketplace (and how they compare to what is reported) and how these trends are impacting renter, buyers, sellers, etc. in the area.
  • Create a Survey: Lastly, one of my favorite ways to leverage data to tell nuanced real estate stories is to commission an independent survey or study. The Allison+Partners Research team, for example, can help conduct telephone or online surveys. Ask survey participants provocative questions about their perceptions of the market. Think about what headlines you would like to see and how your client’s asset fits into the overall narrative. Do baby boomers really want to downsize and move to a shiny new condo or apartment in the city? Does the white picket fence and suburban home still epitomize “the American Dream” for millennials? How do living space and amenities needs differ between generations? These are simplistic examples, of course, but they can help fuel a storyline that positions your client as a thought leader in their industry.
Packaged the right way, with timely, crisp and engaging data or industry research paired with an effective narrative, you can find new opportunities to bring to life your real estate story and help your client gain exposure beyond the typical project milestone and routine news announcements.

Steve Smith is a director in Allison+Partners’ Seattle office.

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