By LISA KLEIN
Public relations is a fundamental building block for any media campaign, and promoting a luxury real estate listing is no exception.
While traditional advertising and the newer social media landscape can certainly get a property into the public eye, savvy consumers appreciate learning about homes through editorial avenues, which also often reach a much wider audience.
“Today’s media landscape is ever-changing, and the volume level is at an all-time high in terms of the clutter,” said Caroline Underwood Burman, senior vice president at Kreps PR & Marketing, Miami, Florida, during a Luxury Portfolio International webcast.
“PR allows you to cut through that chaos, to build your credibility and trustworthiness and really begin to build or maintain a foothold in your marketplace,” she said. “It’s essential.”
Mickey Alam Khan, president of Luxury Portfolio International, hosted the Luxury Hour webcast.
Owned or earned
Paid ads and social media posts often get lumped in with PR efforts but are very different.
“Advertising is obviously what you want to say and what you want to convey, and people know that you’ve bought that space,” said Fiona Harris, managing director for the United Kingdom at Relevance International.
“Your social media and Web site are owned media,” she said. “PR is actually going through the filter of a journalist, so we called it earned media. And they wouldn’t be writing it and printing it if they didn’t think it was of value to their readers.”
This is an important distinction for consumers, who, especially with larger outlets, tend to trust what is published by a media source since the information has been vetted and is not paid self-promotion.
“It’s the ultimate credibility,” Ms. Harris said. “Because what you’re doing is delivering stories, really through the voice of a journalist, and therefore the newspaper or media platform they work for.”
An agent who appears on the record as a source in media outlets, or has a property featured in an article, is viewed by clients and potential clients as a true expert in luxury real estate – what Ms. Harris calls a “destination insider and a trusted advisor.”
This coveted position is something that has to been built up and maintained by continually being seen in editorial settings, which in turn will make a brokerage or agent stand out from the competition.
“The more you are on the record and visible and showing that you have the trust of a journalist, and that you have the facts and information to back that up, translates well to your target audience and to your client base and can often generate sales,” Ms. Burman said.
Cultivating relationships with journalists and publications is key to becoming a go-to source that they will call on when in need of a real estate expert or the perfect property to feature in a piece.
Agents should always be prepared to answer questions about their market and be willing to supply background information, if needed.
“If you can supply a journalist with market data that they’re not able to get anywhere else, that can truly strengthen your bond with the outlet and make you more of a go to source for other articles that you may be quoted in,” Ms. Burman said.
In the mix
These days, those articles are not just printed in newspapers, but appear on digital-only blogs, YouTube shows, TV and podcasts – the list of media options is endless. Consumers now get their information from a wide variety of sources, and it is important to think about all of them when it comes to PR.
“We are all omnichannel now,” Ms. Harris said.
Agents must be able to share their knowledge and properties in a number of ways, from a traditional print spread to taking a journalist on a video tour, to being able to speak in an entertaining way about the market.
“But just as we’ve seen coverage become a little bit more widespread, the scope and the parameters have narrowed somewhat,” Ms. Burman said.
Architectural Digest now favors celebrity homes, and The Wall Street Journal’s price threshold for its private properties section is now $30 million, per Ms. Burman.
With all of the noise to sift through, properties must truly stand out to get noticed for media coverage. Agents should think about what makes a home unique – they cannot pitch a home simply because it is large or expensive anymore.
“They would prefer to see a home that has a little bit of gravitas,” Ms. Burman said. “What makes it important? What is the selling point of the home that might be a little bit beyond the norm? What about the home speaks to market trends?”
From families searching for more space during the pandemic to millennials placing sustainability at the top of their list of needs, properties that provide good examples of real estate trends are perfect to pitch to media outlets, and agents must pay attention to what is getting coverage.
“In terms of global PR, we have to match what’s going on in society, but also what’s being written about in the media,” Ms. Harris said.
No matter the subject, firsthand perspectives about the market or a specific property are especially important – agents who can speak to what they have noticed going on in an area or the sellers of a home telling personal stories about their lives there.
“More and more consumers want to read about those stories,” Ms. Burman said. “They want to know what it was like to host a grand party there, or to have raised their grandchildren in the backyard. Think about those elements.”
Relevance International wrote a news story about a development in the U.K. that converted an old television studio where a number of famous actors and comedians had filmed into residences, which featured interviews with buyers talking about why they wanted to live there.
“That brings it alive in a really visceral way,” Ms. Harris said. “They’re a human telling another human a story. You bring it alive.”
Aside from a compelling story, a story must also have stunning visuals to draw in readers or viewers: curb appeal, beautiful interiors and quality photography are king.
“Seventy-nine percent of all we remember as human beings is visual,” Ms. Harris said. “So where we’ve got listings with beautiful photography and awe-inspiring interiors and gardens and locations – that is something we feast on.
“We’re naturally sort of voyeuristic,” she said. “We like to look behind the scenes and into other people’s lives and homes. The media reflect this – our natural inclinations to understand how other people live.”
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