Every business enterprise has a story to tell. And being proactive about how your story is told can definitely help your business. As in: impact the bottom line.
Press mentions are more powerful than most any advertising. Good press gives your business a third-party endorsement, and a legitimacy that can’t be acquired any other way.
As a complement to your advertising and marketing, Public Relations makes sure you show up where your audience is reading, watching, and listening. It helps position your firm and serves to reinforce your business presence. It’s a powerful way to project the power and intent of your brand.
“We help you figure out what your story is and who needs it,” says Jenn Weyand, head of boutique PR and marketing firm BouncePath. “Then we work to get that story in the right places, in front of the right audience.”
Press mentions can also elevate your Internet presence or Google Juice. That’s critical these days, with everything online. For good or ill, articles from weeks and months past will appear in a search, associating your name with the publication or media channel.
It will also make it easier to get additional press, because you’ve become more visible, and obviously ‘newsworthy.’ Many of the guests on the Commercial Real Estate Show end up getting other press, guest and speaking opportunities from the visibility.
Reporter Jared Schenke of Bisnow, the lively online commercial real estate news service, noted that, since business is all about relationships, it’s important to be able to talk to people, directly and through the media.
“Do you need PR?” he asked. “No, but, it’s quite a valuable tool to elevate your business presence.”
You already have great connections in business, but building these with key media contacts is skilled work, and you might not have the available time or in-house talent to handle it. Plus, an outside agency can often promote your firm more effectively.
“Not only do we have the press connections,” explained Weyand. “We can get a clearer picture of you and your audience since we see the bigger picture.”
Interesting to Whom?
There’s more to this game than blasting out press releases. In a niche industry like ours it’s wise to cultivate the reporters that aligns with the story. Ultimately, you want to have your story told by the person who ‘gets it.’
I asked Jared Schenke what makes him want to read a press release, and what might tempt him to write about my company?
- DON’T give me 2 or more pages.
- DON’T give me quotes; I’ll get my own.
- DON’T leave off your contact info!
- DON’T expect us to run it verbatim. That’s not how it works.
What We’re Looking For:
- Interesting facts
- The human element
For Example: Promoting a New Development
Map out the news points. What makes it of interest, to your stakeholders, to the community? Who are the tenants or prospective tenants? Are there zoning issues? Is transit or transportation involved?
Consider the audience of the publications you’re pitching. Which publications would be interested in this? Some report only report on transactions, zoning or local politics. What is of interest to their readers?
Who, What, WHEN
As much as you can you want to control the story, to decide what is published about you, and when. Pay attention to the rhythm of the news cycle.
In our business, timing can be everything. For example a big public project like the Atlanta Braves stadium, the deal had many public and private stakeholders. Despite the tremendous buzz about the whereabouts of the new location, the developers PR team kept it secret until they were ready, despite the hundreds of people involved.
How did they keep quiet as long as they did? Developers and other commercial real estate professionals are well acquainted with the critical role of confidentiality. It’s a business essential. But it’s tough on reporters, and it can also be tough on brokers.
“The upshot is,” advised Schenke, “if you are being peppered by reporters, you may want to go upstairs and let them know something is about to break, so the firm has a chance to get ahead of the news.”
Social Media Sizzle
It’s no secret that Commercial Real Estate is the slowest industry to adopt any new trend, and Social Media has been no exception. But we’re on board now, and plenty of commercial real estate professionals have found good business value in blogging, tweeting and Linked In, and sometimes even Facebook.
“Social media just gave me another way to tell a story,” quipped Jenn Weyand. “It’s a way to extend your narrative.”
It’s definitely an investment in manpower to get up and running, so for some firms Social Media is still optional. Weyand recommends a focus on blogging relevant content that is tweeted and reblogged to LinkedIn. Photo blogging with Instagram works for style conscious firms. Facebook is too personal for most businesses. Although, with the right touch, Facebook is an excellent channel for reaching consumers.
“We’ve created Facebook accounts for shopping centers, and encouraged all the tenants to participate. By posting center-wide sales and events we drive traffic to their web sites and stores.”
News is Inherently New
If a transaction has been out in the marketplace over 90 days, it’s not news. Don’t bother with a PR campaign.
You can take an old story and try to make it new. It’s critical to get ahead of the water cooler conversation.
“Even if there’s not much storyline,” Schenke offered, “I still want to tell you something you didn’t know. That’s how Bisnow stays relevant.”
A client completed a shopping center in Myrtle Beach. It was the first Publix in that market, competed over 90 days ago. You could say no, not a story, but what NEW tenants are there that no one knows about?
The rest of the tenant lineup is completely new, and for the neighborhood, that is a sign of more good things to come. So it’s a bigger story that it seems at first glance.
Turn Bad Press to Good
In another Florida redevelopment of a fading retail center, the Publix store hung on despite the deteriorating neighborhood. A new owner purchased the center and began redevelopment. As changes began, there were rumblings from the community about pushing out the old mom & pop stores.
Our PR folks developed stories emphasizing the relocation benefits provided to those small retailers, the benefits of new retail now available in the renovated center, and helped generate more enthusiasm in the community.
Avoid Crisis Communications if at All Possible.
In a crisis situation, get the real facts, craft your message and stick to it. Stay visible and communicate consistently. If you disappear, you can look guilty. You don’t want to get on the defensive.
The best way to get in front of the press is to:
- Have valuable content
- A compelling story
- What your audience wants to hear
- What your reporter wants to cover
- Avoid the negative
- Be authentically contrarian (occasionally)
- Fact based, great information, of broad interest
These tips could even help land you as a guest on the nationally syndicated Commercial Real Estate Show. You’re invited to watch our show “Press and PR Strategies”
Michael Bull, CCIM, is the host of the Commercial Real Estate Show, heard by millions of people around the country on 42 radio stations, iTunes, YouTube and the show web site www.CREshow.com. Michael is also an active broker at Bull Realty, Inc., a U.S. commercial real estate sales, leasing and advisory firm headquartered in Atlanta. Connect with Michael on Twitter and LinkedIn.