The role that public relations plays in real estate can be crucial to the success of a project or a listing; the real estate market, whether industrial, commercial or residential, is facing converging financial, environmental, and social pressures and continues to be a popular -- and polarizing -- topic in the media.
In a saturated market, having a strong PR strategy can help developers, real estate brokerages, and agents amplify their public profiles, company reputation and credibility, giving them an edge with buyers by increasing their brand visibility and strengthening consumer trust. As an agent, earning editorial coverage for listings is an excellent way to increase ‘social proof’ and close sales.
With that said, not all property stories are created equally, and knowing what makes a listing buzzworthy is the key to successfully earning positive media coverage. Specializing in the real estate, construction, architecture, and development industries, my team at Talk Shop intimately understands what is required to make an impact with journalists. Here are some of my top tips to help you decide if your listing is media-worthy.
Timing Really Is Everything
The media is built on rapidly evolving news cycles and trending topics. Certain narratives we can anticipate to take over during specific times of year, while others become hot topics that remain relevant throughout the year, like housing affordability or -- right now -- interest rates.
The ability to tie your listing to a trending topic, event, or breaking news story will increase the odds that a journalist will cover the story. This, however, can be a risk vs. reward situation, so it is important to have a strong media relations strategy in place to consider all potential outcomes. The last thing you want to do is list a beautiful luxury property at the height of an election cycle focused on housing affordability, accidentally making your project or listing a target for negative conversation.
On the flip side, this can also work in your favour. Journalists are often intrigued by anomalies in trending topics and will typically take notice if a pitch angle is anchored to a trending topic. This can provide a positive opportunity to insert your listing into the conversation, and get some additional eyeballs on it from potential buyers. For example, supply chain issues have been in the news frequently this year, and we’ve worked with our clients on strategic storytelling around how they have faced this adversity head on to meet construction deadlines and push forward with their projects through early planning and innovation.
Oh, The Humanity!
The media loves human interest stories. Human interest stories create an emotional connection with readers -- it is in our nature to be interested in the trials and tribulations of other human beings, especially when those stories end on an inspirational note.
The best journalists are able to recognize impactful buyer/seller stories while also recognizing that exceptionally heartwarming stories can help to set the news agenda. The ability to anchor your listing to a human interest story is a powerful way to intrigue and engage journalists in covering your property.
When you are considering if there is a strong buyer or seller story related to your listing, consider the following questions. Has the seller of the home overcome any odds in pursuing the dream, or have they achieved something that most people dream of? Is there a reason why they are choosing to buy or sell in this community? Is there an interesting motivation for selling? These elements may increase the chance that a journalist will take notice of your listing, as long as you have a cooperative buyer/seller who is open to speaking with media directly.
Embrace the Unique and Unusual
This Toronto home looks like its right out of a fairytale
There is something uniquely satisfying about exploring other people’s homes, and something that feels slightly voyeuristic by providing an unfiltered look into their reality. Homes that feature unique, elevated, or unusual elements offer an additional fascination to the general public.
Property listings with an unexpected hook and strong creative assets give journalists a great place to start when crafting a compelling, aspirational story for their readers. Properties with interesting architectural elements, intriguing interior design choices, unexpected locations or amenities, and unconventional construction materials increase the story's impact and add a newsworthy component to your listing.
It’s important to note that it is one thing to list a property online. It’s another to share it with the media. Having seller permission before you share photos and details with a reporter is critical. Not only out of respect for the homeowner, but often media will request an interview or discussion with the person selling the home. Having a spokesperson with intimate knowledge of the property is a huge draw for media and speaks to the “human” element.
Further to asking permission, it’s important to communicate to the homeowner that although you can try your best to control the narrative, media may grab on to a different angle than what you anticipated. Similarly, your “hero” photo might not be the one they choose to use for their story. The more creative assets you have at your disposal, the better, including video content and, especially, interior photos.
Celebrity Worship Is Real
Celebrity culture is a driving force in our society, and it has a huge impact on buyers’ perception. Though celebrity coverage is often laughed off as inconsequential, as a general rule, journalists know they will attract more readers when covering celebrity news.
If you can tie your listing to a celebrity, it gives journalists an extra “hook” for the story and enables them to pitch this angle to their editors successfully. Property listings sold by celebrities or public figures, that were once owned by celebrities, or that were designed by famous architects, hold an extra element of intrigue for journalists and readers.
We also see strong media interest in “celebrity-worthy” price tags. Homes in the multi-million dollar ranges often get picked up by media when we include these figures in our outreach -- and even moreso when it is a record-breaking price for the area.
Sometimes It’s Just Not
At Talk Shop, we are very transparent with our real estate clients that not all listings are newsworthy, regardless of how beautiful or luxurious they may be. In fact, in most cases, the odds are that your project or listing is not overly newsworthy, and it is then our job to work with our clients to dig a bit deeper to identify any unique elements. Sometimes this isn’t about the listing itself, and is more focused on a business angle profiling the developer and why they are investing in that particular community, or a story about how the commercial or industrial space will provide much needed jobs in the region, or even highlighting a record breaking listing price for that area.
Bike rooms, dog wash stations, and proximity to a local park can be important inclusions for buyers, but these features are not typically going to get your listing in the news. As PR professionals, we understand the importance of articulating unique angles to help journalists understand why the story is captivating, and why it would be of interest to their readers.