A Pubic Relations Analysis of Zillow's Impact

John Cook, Seattle P-I’s VC reporter, asked the public relations professionals at Waggener Edstrom (HQ’d just down the I5 from me in Lake Oswego incidentally) to come up with a media map of the media attention surrounding Zillow.

WagEd’s Narrative Network software data mined all the media coverage around Zillow over the last year to create a visual map of common words used to describe Zillow in the media. The image uses color and weight to illustrate the relationships between the terms.

(Image: Waggener Edstrom)

A couple terms leaped out at me right away; “video” and “Youtube” being the most oddball. I doubt they’re referring to Zillow’s VNRs (some examples here)
or actual property videos on Zillow, which don’t exist as far as I know. Though, come to think of it, that’s an intriguing idea – WellcomeMat mashed with MakeMeMove….

More likely they got thrown into the mix as Zillow was mentioned in generic terms, along with Youtube, as examples of Web 2.0 companies.

In any case, based on their analysis of this data, WagEd highlights some of the core themes in the coverage – the accuracy of Zillow’s valuations being one of the biggest issues (highlighted in blue on the map). No surprise there.

Further, WagEd suggests in order to combat “attacks” on their business model, Zillow should continue to build their branding around their Zestimates, because:

  • Zestimates take the edge off of appraisals
  • Zestimates are built upon “publicâ€? information

At the same time they should further build their brand image around “key category words” like:

  • Accuracy
  • Estimate
  • Value

The last two seem doable. The first, however, seems to me to be a loaded word I’d avoid at all costs. I think a term like “research” would be much more appropriate, but it’ll be interesting to see if Zillow heeds any or all of these recommendations.

The full PowerPoint deck with all of WagEd’s recommendations is available on John Cook’s Venture Blog.