- Think differently: "Don't do your food drive the week of Thanksgiving and expect for the L.A. Times to come to your company and write a story about the food drive you did."
- Find your hook: think about what makes your listing unique and special, and publicize that.
SAN FRANCISCO — The last time you did something amazing in your real estate business, who learned about it?
Was it a relatively small circle of your friends and family, or did you have the media paying attention to your achievements?
Public relations, explained Audie Chamberlain, is the art of “interfacing” with, well, your publics.
“Everyone talks about spin, and they think PR is a press release,” he said. “But PR is much simpler than that. PR is just the people who you interact with in business. It’s an audience out there cheering you on.”
But how do you scale from letting your immediate circle know what you’re doing to letting the world know — and, more importantly, how do you get the world to care?
Owning your moment
“It’s not self-promotional,” argued Chamberlain. “It’s taking an energy or a moment you’ve been building your whole life and bringing that to people.”
And that’s a lot easier if what you’re doing isn’t what everyone else is doing.
“When we talk about the thing that makes you special and will be talked about, it’s very important to understand that what you need is a contrarian mindset,” Chamberlain explained. “Our industry is so competitive that we all become ‘me toos.'”
Which is fine as far as it goes — but you won’t stand out.
“Think about companies like Tesla; they’ve had tremendous success going into the shopping center instead of the auto mall like everybody else,” Chamberlain pointed out. “Think about how you can think differently.”
What does thinking differently look like in real estate?
Chamberlain’s client Hawaii Life did something different by aligning with Hawaiian Island Land Trust.
“Here is a real estate company helping protect thousands of miles of beachfront so they can’t build any more properties on it,” Chamberlain noted. That is a contrarian mindset.
“Don’t do your food drive the week of Thanksgiving and expect for the L.A. Times to come to your company and write a story about the food drive you did,” he advised. “Same goes for the toy drive at Christmas. It’s going to be the Salvation Army and the Marines — they own that.
“So think about when you can do these things that it’s going to have the most impact in your community and catch the attention of the local media, because you want to get the story beyond your friends and family.”
In practice, this is what that attention might look like.
The contrarian’s playbook
“First, instead of following, let’s do things that inspire,” Chamberlain suggested. “Let’s stop looking at what our competition is doing and let’s just think about what we want to do; and then we do that; and then we see that our competition is now following us.”
Chamberlain also had advice on getting more involved in your community. “Something that had a huge impact on my life was joining a board of directors,” he noted. “Join an organization, national or local, and get involved.”
Press releases are also often worth the effort, he said — they’re “SEO-friendly records of your milestones and accomplishments.” So even if you don’t plan on pitching it to the media, write up a release and post it on your own site. (Who knows? A reporter might thank you later for having such a comprehensive archive of your own work when they’re writing a feature profile!)
And finally: Keep it simple.
“If you can’t tell your story in 50 words, the media is not going to even consider it. So you have 50 words to tell your entire story.
“If you cannot tell your story in 50 words? Go home.”
Finding the hook
Maybe you’re not interested in publicizing your philanthropic efforts. What you would really love is to have the media cover something that’s really going to gin up your business — your listings.
How do you do that?
“Whatever the thing is that makes that listing special, you have to figure out what that is,” Chamberlain advised. “Then look at the newspapers and magazines where you want to be; look at the photos and stories and your own things and say, ‘Is this good enough?'”
Be honest! “Otherwise you’re just spamming them,” he said.
And the press isn’t really interested in your book of photos from that shoot just because you had them taken for the MLS. “It’s not about getting images and getting the listing into the MLS,” Chamberlain noted. “It’s about creating images that could go on the cover of Architectural Digest — no matter what size the property is — and then creating something that’s so media-friendly that you’ll proactively send it to your local media.”
Make sure you’re considering timing; big publications often can’t turn on a dime for anything that isn’t breaking news, so give them a bumper of at least two weeks to slot in your story.
“Do things worth writing about,” he concluded.