Get Slightly Famous: 5 Ways to Increase Your Fame

By Melissa Dittmann Tracey


Being a celebrity — if even in your local market — gives you a major edge over your competitors, says PR guru Steven Van Yoder in his new edition of Get Slightly Famous (Bay Tree Publishing, 2007). Be that one person that prospects think of when they hear the word “real estate.” But you’ll need a special marketing plan aimed at generating fame. In Van Yoder’s 304-page book, he shares strategies for boosting star power, from becoming the media’s go-to person to creating buzz from speaking engagements. Along the way you’ll also read informative mini-profiles on how small businesses found fame.

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Your top objectives in becoming a local celebrity: boost your visibility and establish credibility. Here are ways to accomplish those goals, according to Van Yoder’s book:

1. Be a media favorite. Local news coverage offers instant credibility, enhanced status, and expanded consumer reach. But getting reporters to listen to you is a different story. When introducing yourself, let reports know your expertise and tell them you’ll be reachable on tight deadlines. During interviews, focus on being quotable: speak succinctly and conversationally, avoid professional jargon, keep your message simple, and be enthusiastic. Keep in mind that reporters are turned off by sources who merely promote their company and make statements with no inherent news value. Instead, view your business from the media’s perspective and provide reader-centered, timely information.

2. Speak up. Public speaking showcases your knowledge and gives you visibility. Clubs and associations are often on the lookout for speakers for their seminars, conferences, and workshops. Offer to give a speech to a service club, chambers of commerce, industry association, or continuing education program — or even holding your own seminar. Toastmasters can be a good resource for honing your public speaking skills. Some presentation tips: Look confident, start with a personal story related to your business, ask the audience questions, make regular eye contact, and have a beginning, middle, and end to your speech (for example, introduce the scope of your topic, go into more detail and offer illustrative stories, and then point out conclusions).

3. Become an info-entrepreneur. Turn the spotlight on your specialized real estate expertise by producing informational products such as booklets, CD-ROMS, and audio series on a topic that appeals to your target market. Consider creating a video training program, a booklet full of useful home owner tips, a special report or downloadable file, or an e-book. To promote your product, announce it to your existing clients through your Web site, flyers, or by taking samples with you to networking events and speaking engagements. But before you start mass producing a line of information products, determine who will buy your product, why, and how much they’ll spend.

4. Seek virtual fame. Your Web site is a chance to be a “star of your own show” and tell your story, Van Yoder says. The Web’s large consumer reach can help you continue to solidify your brand. The best Web sites are informational, simple in design (avoiding fancy graphics that serve no marketing purpose), easy to navigate, and offer incentives to visit, such as a free report or sample product. To boost your virtual star power more, offer blogs and podcasts on your Web site.

5. Do good. Show your commitment to a worthy cause by building a philanthropic reputation within your market. After all, most consumers prefer doing business with a company that stands for something beyond profits, Van Yoder says. He encourages “strategic philanthropy,” which combines self-interest with support for social causes. Support charitable causes by donating resources, expertise, or service. For example, you might organize a charitable event or offer pro bono work. The charitable or social cause you support can become a central component in your brand identity, which ultimately will help humanize your business in the eyes of consumers.


“In a crowded marketplace, where your potential clients and customers have lots of choices, you can stand out by being just slightly famous. This is the exact opposite of mass marketing. It’s not about being all things to all people but being a mini-celebrity to the right people. It’s about targeting your market and developing a reputation as a great resource — trustworthy, knowledgeable and close at hand. Your goal is to become the lord of a small, profitable domain of your choosing. Within that domain, you will attract more customers and clients, including those you want most.”


Steven Van Yoder is a public relations and marketing expert who manages Get the Word Out Communications, a San Francisco-based marketing firm. He’s also the founder and director of Global Initiative to Alliance Entrepreneurship, a worldwide alliance of business and nonprofit partners that aim to alleviate poverty.

Check back on Tuesday, Sept. 4, to read Van Yoder’s responses to your already submitted questions.

Melissa Tracey

Melissa Dittmann Tracey is a contributing editor for REALTOR® Magazine, writing about home & design trends, technology, and sales and marketing. She manages the magazine's award-winning Styled, Staged & Sold blog.

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  1. It’d be great to be a resource that reporters go to for comments. In a large city like Chicago, where networks are already established, how do you suggest getting acquainted with reporters who are real estate experts?