I have been doing PR and strategic communications for over two decades and for much of that time I have serviced a variety of real estate developers, non-profit organizations, and corporate clients.
I enjoy publicity projects around new products or services, often helping to generate significant profile for the company and increase awareness and/or sales for a period of time. This is a positive result.
That being said, PR that generates strong brands, longer-term sales increases, and meeting other communications goals, such as building awareness amongst your key target markets, comes from longer-term PR efforts and consistency.
This is especially relevant when times are tough such as when we experience an industry or economic downturn.
I will use my work in real estate development as an example to illustrate this.
Traditionally, real estate developers have not excelled in engaging with the media or with the public. They have often avoided conversations with media and have not been proactive in educating the public about who they are, what they do, or the challenges they often face. This has resulted in a lack of knowledge that has contributed to the industry’s poor reputation amongst some. The average Canadian does not know what goes into planning, financing, and executing a residential project; building much-needed homes. It is challenging, costly and often risky.
It is vital for companies to lead in communicating with various audiences such as consumers, municipalities, other levels of government and stakeholders.
When you are only connecting with media, and other audiences, when you have an exciting announcement or wonderful product to talk about, you are only accomplishing a short-term communications goal—one that won’t build strong roots for your brand.
Here are several tips on incorporating PR that will provide a clear return on investment:
- Work with a trusted partner and devote a minimum of one year to PR. If you can keep a multi-year consistent PR presence, that is ideal.
- Be open and educate the public about your challenges with a solutions-oriented tone and content strategy. It’s not ideal sharing a list of complaints without positive ideas for solving them.
- Show your personal side. Consumers like to know that there is a breathing, feeling leader, and group of people, behind a company or organization. With the counsel of your PR partner, share your feelings on the challenges you face and the excitement you have for the possibilities of solving these problems. Also, share the authentic passion that you have for what you do.
- Work with a professional who you trust. If you don’t feel comfortable with our recommendation, have an open and honest conversation about it. You will likely find common ground –communications with your PR partner matters too!
- Help media, when appropriate, even if it doesn’t relate to your project or service specifically. Only approaching media when you want profile is not a balanced relationship. Media work hard and often need expert sources on last-minute deadlines. Help them by providing an interview when you can. Media relationships are important for both you and your PR partner.
- Better times are coming! When the economic or industry-related challenges pass, your authentic efforts to communicate, and your consistent and positive brand presence, won’t be forgotten by media or by the public.