These days, you may be more inclined to run from the media than aim to be on their speed dial. But by having your face on the nightly news or your name in an article, you could present yourself as an expert in the field, build your reputation, and make yourself a go-to person for listings. Before you start drawing attention to yourself, though, you’d be smart to read Edward Segal’s how-to book, Profit by Publicity (iUniverse, 2007). It has 226 pages of ideas on how to form a publicity plan, get publicity on a shoestring budget, draw from strategies of other real estate pros, and talk to the media to get the results you want.
So what do you want to publicize – yourself, your company, an aspect of your real estate expertise? Also, who’s your target audience? Knowing the answers to such questions will help you to pinpoint appropriate newspapers, magazines, or other media outlets to pitch stories or offer up your expertise. A list of such considerations appears in Segal’s book to help you start to form your publicity plan.
Once you have a well-mapped out plan of your goals, you’re ready to head on the publicity trail.
1. Have a news hook. When approaching the media with a story idea, make sure it’s newsworthy for more than just yourself. In his book, Segal identifies some of the most common story angles where real estate professionals are often successful in landing in news stories.
For example, stories where you can talk about real estate trends and developments, advocate for affordable housing, raise money for a good cause, market listings in a unique way, showcase unusual properties, or comment on a recent real estate transactions. Also, realize that you may face skepticism from the media so arm yourself with a solid real estate background, credentials, and facts to back up your key points when talking to the press. (Watch an online video of media tips to put you at ease when talking to reporters.)
2. Give speeches. Speaking in public offers golden opportunities to make people aware of your real estate expertise, accomplishments, and activities, Segal writes. Talk at a conference or seminar and, beforehand, make the most of your presentation by issuing news releases, e-mail and newsletter announcements, and conduct press interviews to highlight your talk ahead of time. (Listen to REALTOR® magazine’s podcast on how to become a better speaker.)
3. Get publicity in cyberspace. You can increase your exposure using the Web, too. Comment on others’ blogs, create podcasts, and have a Web site that you promote everywhere — these all can be ways to showcase your expertise and ramp up your exposure. On your Web site homepage, set up a “press room” or “news” section. In that section, have news releases, fact sheets, and news clippings that highlight your company or your accomplishments.
4. Offer up your opinions. Opinion pieces and byline articles in newspapers and magazines also can be a publicity generator and allow you to express your viewpoints and share your experiences on an issue. By submitting letters to the editor to publications to comment — in your own words — on current events, a recent article, or to correct mistakes in the media, you’ll reinforce your credibility and promote your name and expertise, Segal says. When writing these letters, respond quickly to the story issue or event that you’re writing on so they don’t become dated and keep them short and focused, avoiding lengthy tangents, and base it on your experience.
5. Hire a pro. Too crunched for time to maintain the publicity machine? Then have a professional do all of the legwork for you so you can just reap the benefits. Work with a PR agency or hire consultants who already know best strategies for breaking through the clutter to get to the media. Prices range from less than $100 per hour to more than $10,000 per month. Segal suggests finding a professional from such sources as Public Relations Society of America, International Association of Business Communicators, or your local chambers of commerce.
“News organizations are the most important stepping stones to publicity in our society. That’s because television stations, radio stations, newsletters, Web sites, blogs, podcasts, magazines, and newspapers are among the most effective ways for individuals, companies, and organizations to communicate with the rest of society. … Many news outlets have a tremendous vacuum to fill every day, week, or month in finding and providing enough information to fill hundreds of thousands of hours of airtime and millions of pages of print every year with news and information.
The challenge of these news organizations have in finding and providing news to their audiences also represents an important opportunity for you – if you are able to present your real estate expertise, activities, and opinions, or accomplishments as news. If you can, then you may have an excellent chance to convince news outlets to do a story about you or your real estate company.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Edward Segal is CEO and communications director of the Marin Association of REALTORS® in California. A popular PR consultant and media trainer to nationwide companies, Segal is a marketing strategies columnist for The Wall Street Journal’s StartupJournal.com. He also has served as a press secretary to members of Congress and an aide to presidential and congressional candidates. Visit his book’s Web site: www.profitbypublicity.com
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.