The only thing better than being recognized as a real estate authority in your market is getting recognized for free. With some advanced planning and a little research, it’s actually easier than you may think. Public relations opportunities are plentiful, and just a little effort can help you capitalize on your expertise and credibility. Here are six ways you can tap into your own knowledge and local area resources to help you stand out among your competitors without spending an extra dime on advertising.
Create Content: News coverage by a reputable publication or source is arguably the best way to establish credibility. And it’s much easier to get noticed & published with great content. Think of the knowledge and expertise you have about a specific topic and write about it. The key is to make your topic timely and specific. For instance, if national news reports are focused on the most recent housing report, write an article about how the national stats reflect your local area as well, referencing a specific area or neighborhood to serve as an example. Creating content is where most other agents will falter, so if you put forth the time and effort to do this, you will no doubt stand out among your competitors.
Make Connections: It isn’t always what you know, it’s who you know. Make connections with journalists, reporters and editors of local publications that have a real estate focus or section. Most of them have LinkedIn and Twitter accounts that they use for professional purposes. Follow them for a while and read their work. This way, when you reach out to them with your suggested content, you will be able to better connect by recalling a similar article they have written in the past. Another way to connect with them is an organization called Help A Reporter Out (HARO, www.helpareporter.com). They connect reporters with expert sources in order to help them find great content. You can become one of those expert sources. Membership is free, and you can select specific categories or topics for which you’d like to provide articles of expertise. The site also sends you daily notifications of any new story opportunities in the categories you have chosen.
Get Involved: Participate in local events in your community, especially anything relating to construction and home improvement. But don’t stop there. Instead of just the traditional trade show booth, offer to lend a hand in other ways. For instance, Michael participated in a Home & Garden show in Athens, Georgia a few years ago. They were hosting a White Room contest as part of the event, where design students from local universities competed to design an empty room from the ground up. When we saw this on their schedule, we immediately reached out and offered Michael’s services as a judge. With his experience in home selling, staging and renovations, it made perfect sense. He was mentioned on their website and printed materials as well as their press release. This expanded his coverage and awareness much more, and didn’t cost a dime extra. Michael also donated a box truck that he no longer needed to his local Habitat for Humanity organization. This received local press, and as a donor, his logo remains on the truck, providing a free moving billboard in his hometown every day.
Write Press Releases: Whenever you or your company has a newsworthy occasion, write a press release. Not only is it great for search engine optimization purposes, but there’s a chance that news sources in your area may print it. Newsworthy topics might be winning an award, participating in a charity event, hosting an event, helping to launch or market a new development, etc. When it’s time to distribute this press release, if you haven’t already made a list of local sources and contacts, just search ‘local media outlets in [your city and state]’. This search should produce most of them, and most will also have instructions for submitting releases on their website. Then, repeat the same search using ‘real estate publications’ as your key phrase. Always publish your press release to your website as well, and put that link in articles and postings so you can drive traffic back to your site.
Develop a Press Kit: A professional looking press kit can definitely make the difference in getting your content published. When news organizations are seeking expertise, a professional representation of you (along with your accomplishments and background information) makes their decision much easier. It makes them feel confident when you appear as a credible source, not only to them, but to the public. It also gives them all the materials they need to publish your work faster. In most cases, a digital version of a press kit (downloadable PDF) will suffice. A few items you’ll need in your press kit are: a cover letter, biography, photos, contact info, accomplishments, topics of expertise and other previous media coverage (if you have it yet). Add a ‘news’ page to your website and put a link to your press kit on the news page and on your ‘about’ page.
Leverage Your Advertising: You may think this category doesn’t belong here, and you should be right. However, as someone with years of experience working with media outlets, I know there are times when an advertiser will take priority over a non-advertiser for a news story. In fact, most of the time. If you are spending money with a media outlet, try to leverage that relationship (in a subtle and respectful way). Don’t assume that your story should take precedent. Instead, send your submission through appropriate editorial channels, but make sure to copy your sales representative or at least let them know you have submitted newsworthy information for review. Here’s an excellent approach via email, “I have attached some information for a unique story about [insert subject matter] that I thought you might consider newsworthy. I realize this is separate from my advertising agreement with you, and it may not receive coverage. But if it’s of interest to you, I will make myself available at your convenience for further discussion”.