Developing a PR strategy for the property sector
An effectively managed PR strategy is vitally important for any business and since the introduction of Internet social media channels some would argue that the task has been made simpler. If monitored and regularly updated these channels can play an important part in raising the visibility of a website and in improving the public image of a business. They can also be monitored for criticism that can be quickly dealt with by responding directly to someone that has submitted an adverse comment on Twitter, etc. Much of the property sector has already embraced social media regarding it as a positive development.
How it used to be done
There was a time, in the not too distant past, when people would wait for their local weekly or evening paper to come out so they could scour the pages – frequently many pages – to either look for a house or to simply see what was up for sale in the area. Estate agents and other property professionals would seek to make their logos and pictures stand out to lure buyers either into their offices or to make a first telephone enquiry.
It’s not that they don’t still advertise in local papers, or produce glossy brochures, but the property industry has been revolutionised by the Internet, as indeed has just about every business in the world. The ether is teeming with voices, millions upon millions of them, and individuals, especially in the younger age groups, are particularly tech and media savvy.
The new way
Every person with access to the web has a voice and they want information quickly and effectively as well as publishing their own. It is not just individuals demanding instant, 24/7 access to information. There are other stakeholders that property professionals need to consider, such as suppliers, others in their own line of business and journalists.
Those looking for property or keeping in touch with the market don’t just want a couple of pictures and some copy, they want a wide range of images as well as videos and they want a platform where their questions will be answered.
A good PR strategy in the property sector is the be all and end all for success in the industry, and the Internet has ushered in a new set of tools to add to the ways information is disseminated and to maintain and manage reputations.
Embracing social media
Social media, such as Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Pinterest and YouTube have colonised the Internet allowing instant exchange of information. They’re a new set of tools that should be an integral part of any PR strategy. It doesn’t have to be expensive to start using social media as a business, but all property professionals should be aware that using it effectively could take time to learn. Building it into a forward strategy will provide superb opportunities for managing how a business is perceived as well as reaching new audiences as the platforms for PR social media are developed.
Social media is a different way of conducting PR and it can be highly effective. A business can engage directly with a range of audiences, and because many others will see responses to questions and how they are put across positive or negative judgements can be made. Creating the right perception is a key part of handling this type of PR as it moves so fast, so property professionals need to know how to develop appropriate strategies to manage the various different social media types. Those managing it need to be responsive, proactive and to understand their different audiences.
One major estate agent, Whitegates, uses Twitter and Facebook to get a variety of messages out, including advertising houses and congratulating staff, or flagging up staff members that are doing some fundraising for charity. It is expected that many more companies in the property industry will have to develop their property social media strategies in the coming months and years.