If you want to grow your business, to build its reputation and to establish your brand within the property world, then you’ll need to incorporate public relations into your planning.
Why is marketing limiting?
Marketing allows you to introduce the properties on your books to individuals and organisations looking for such properties. Attention is focused on extolling the virtues of the buildings, their values and amenities, with little or no opportunity to mention your company and its reputation. So, over time, a relatively small select group of clients have the chance to experience your company, but the rest of the property-acquiring world remains unaware of you.
This may not matter if you’re happy with the level of success you’re achieving. However, if you and your business want to grow, attract investors, borrow money or move into a different property sector or geographical area then you need to put effort into building your reputation with the wider property world. For this you need public relations.
What is public relations?
Public relations is the process of informing and influencing the people who matter to you, so that they can better understand and buy into your story. Effective PR can be used to promote your business and raise your company’s profile at the same time.
For example, you could use the unique facets of a particular property or development as the starting point for a story that includes details on your company’s values and investment strategy. Conversely, you could illustrate a story about your company’s investment strategy with highlights from particular properties. What you focus on is up to you – with the proviso that the stories have to be news worthy.
Over time you can build the profile of your company, the way it operates and invests, and introduce the people at the top to a much wider audience. And there are definite advantages from being better known.
What’s the catch?
With marketing, you’re in control of the message, where it appears and how it’s distributed. You get this control by paying for the advert, brochure, website, exhibition, or whatever else you use.
With public relations you depend on a third party to present your message to the audience. This could be a journalist or editor on a newspaper, magazine, website, radio or TV station; it could be a reviewer or commentator in any of these media; it could be an influencer on social media; it could be a someone else with a high public profile whose views are believed and trusted.
These people are very busy and are being constantly bombarded with potential news stories, so the challenge is to get your message to them, to demonstrate why it is of interest to their readers/viewers/listeners, and to convince them that they should feature it in their output. You also need to ensure, as far as you can, that they have all the information they need to be able to present your story in a way that is positive and helpful. What they eventually write or say is entirely up to them.
A risk worth taking
So public relations involves uncertainty and risk. Unlike marketing and advertising, you’re not in control of the message, and you only see the final version of the story at the same time as your audience, when it actually appears.
However the benefits are definitely worth it as people are more inclined to trust the views of those who they consider independent. Your target audience are more likely to trust a review than a paid-for advert or sponsored product. For more on this topic, see our blog on media planning and earned media.
People are also more inclined to buy from companies that they’ve heard of or used before, companies with credibility. That credibility may come from comments in the media, from positive reviews or from personal recommendations. It takes time and effort to build a positive corporate profile.
Reducing the risk
You can significantly reduce the risks by using public relations professionals. They understand the way that the media works, they know and are trusted by the key individuals within it, and they know what makes a good story that will gain the coverage you are looking for. They will advise on the things your business should focus on to build a positive profile, and will identify things that could possibly damage your reputation or confuse your message.
At Blackstock Consulting, we have an expert team of public relations professionals, who have extensive and varied backgrounds within the property industry. We work closely with our clients to build their profiles and position them as market leaders in their particular areas of expertise through bespoke strategic communications plans. We have a portfolio of successful campaigns that demonstrate our strong track record of achieving results for the businesses we partner with.