Profit by Publicity: PR 101
What does it cost to generate publicity about yourself or real estate company?
One of the biggest misconceptions many real estate agents and brokers have about publicity is that it takes many thousands of dollars to generate news coverage about their services, expertise, or accomplishments.
The reality is that most public relations activities don’t have to cost you anything more than your creativity, time, the price of a postage stamp or the effort it takes to call a reporter or send an e-mail or text message.
The Importance of Research
Most reporters and columnists will not accept anything you tell them on face value. In fact, an editor once told me that he’d often warn his reporters: “If your mother says she loves you, check it out!”
When you tell your story to the media, you will face the same kind of skepticism. An effective way to show the media you know what you are talking about is to have the appropriate real estate background, credentials, and accurate and current facts and figures necessary to prove your points, make your arguments, or bolster your claims.
The research you’ll need depends on the story you want to pitch to the press.
For instance, before you are interviewed by journalists about your take on trends on the local real estate market, you’d best consult your local Multiple Listing Service, broker, or network of colleagues.
Don’t be shy about using your research early and often in your news releases or other press materials, such as printed and online press kits and fact sheets.
Why? Because the sooner you can convince reporters you know what you’re talking about, the more likely it is that your news release will result in news coverage and journalists will contact you for interviews.
The credibility of your research is just as important as any of the facts or figures you use.
For example, a newsletter issued by the Princeton Dental Resource Center reported the results of a study that found that chocolate might help fight cavities. Reporters at The New York Times discovered that the study had been financed by the Mars candy company, and the news-making cavity fighting claims quickly lost their credibility.
Why You Should Prioritize Information
When you tell your story to editors, reporters, or columnists, it is important to guard against the tendency to tell them everything about your story.
For example, if you tell a newspaper reporter 15 different reasons why your real estate services are different or better than your competition, you’ll have no idea which one of those 15 reasons he’ll decide to use in his story. That’s because the reporter must confine his story to the length assigned by his editor. To do that, of course, he must decide what information you tell him will be most important to pass along to his readers.
However, if you don’t tell the reporter what you think are the most important points, then you are leaving the decision about what’s important up to him, and you’ll have no idea which of the information you gave him will wind up in an article. When the story comes out, you could be upset that the reporter did not include what you thought was most important.
Ric Edelman, a national television and radio talk show host and author of Rescue Your Money, says it’s also important that you feel strongly about what you tell the media — and that it shows. Edelman notes, “If you don’t believe in what you are saying and don’t have a passion for it, then you are not going to accomplish very much. You must be willing to give it the amount of effort that it needs, and to sustain those efforts for as long as necessary. Otherwise, people will see that you don’t have the passion and won’t believe in your message.”
To make sure that your story comes out the way you want:
1. Prioritize the information you’d like the reporter to include in the story.
2. Limit the information you tell the reporter to no more than three major points. This will help ensure that the points that are most important to you are the ones that the reporter will most likely include in the article.
3. Keep reinforcing those points to the reporter when he calls with questions or interviews you for his story.
Former TV news reporter Karen Friedman offers this advice: "Some people give reporters too much information. Sometimes during an interview, a person might rattle off eight or nine talking points. They left it up to me to decide which point was most important. If I picked point number eight, inevitably that person would call me to complain that I missed his point.
“In reality, he missed his point because if he had focused on one clear message, I would have easily delivered that message for him."
Edward Segal, RCE, is the author of the Profit by Publicity series that includes live and online classes, an audiobook and a how-to-reference guide for real estate agents and brokers. Segal was the marketing strategies columnist for The Wall Street Journal’s StartUpJournal.com, a PR consultant to more than 500 clients and press secretary to members of Congress. He is now CEO of the Marin County Association of REALTORS® in San Rafael, Calif. Visit his Web site at www.ProfitByPublicity.com
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