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Make PR Your New Best Friend

Public relations is a powerful and virtually free method of building name recognition and credibility in your market, yet many agents fail to take advantage of it. Our PR primer will help you get started.

Think of it as free advertising.

Think of it as a critical component of your personal marketing campaign.

Or, you can think of it as the biggest wasted opportunity in real estate marketing.

It is public relations, a rare marketing opportunity that is usually free. But unfortunately and inexplicably, it is a terribly underutilized marketing approach among real estate agents. We’re hoping to change that by showing you how to integrate PR into your overall marketing campaign. Considering the little effort it requires, the relatively free cost and the vast potential it holds, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t be tapping into this opportunity.

A PR Primer
In simplest terms, public relations is the act of efforting to get your name in the mainstream media, which can mean anything from TV news to newspapers to magazines to online publications. By doing so, you not only build name recognition, but your name receives an added credibility from whatever media outlet prints it or broadcasts it. That’s the beauty of public relations: not only is it virtually free, but it delivers a strong third-party endorsement of your services.

Imagine how you feel when you read an article about a business in your local newspaper, or what it’s like to see a local restaurant featured on the news. Suddenly there’s an air of celebrity swirling around those people and businesses. With an effective PR strategy, there’s no reason that can’t be you.

Looking at the Big Picture
Approaching your business from a marketing perspective means always looking at your personal marketing campaign from a holistic viewpoint. Personal marketing doesn’t just mean developing a brochure and mailing it to your farm. It means thinking in terms of a marketer and acting accordingly, and public relations should definitely be part of your overall marketing strategy. And when you take a closer look, why wouldn’t it be? It’s almost free!

Let’s face it: Real estate agents on the whole are notoriously stingy when it comes to investing in their businesses. Many people get into real estate because they perceive it to be a business opportunity with great earning potential with little investment at stake. But anyone who reads this newsletter frequently should understand that true success in real estate comes by treating your career like a business, which includes investing in yourself and building your brand. Most of this costs money, and that’s where many agents draw the line. But that excuse is eliminated in public relations, which makes it so mind boggling why more agents don’t become PR experts.

Getting Started
The primary tool used by PR practitioners is the press release. A press release is basically a news or feature article written by you (or an advertising or PR agency) about you or some aspect of your services. Press releases are mailed to specific editors at publications and producers at television and radio stations with the goal of catching their interest and providing an interesting angle for publication. The more unique your press release is, the better chance you have of catching an editor’s eye.

Press releases should be written in the inverted triangle format, which means writing the most important and intriguing information at the beginning leading to the mundane details toward the end. You must also grab the editor with a compelling headline. Most editors probably receive hundreds of press releases every day. That’s why you have to make a strong impression right from the start. The more specific you can make your press release, the sharper the angle you provide to editors.

The end goal of a press release depends on the size of the publication you’re targeting. Many smaller newspapers will often print press releases as news or feature articles verbatim in the paper. Larger periodicals and TV stations will assign a reporter to write an article based on the information in the press release.

Express Yourself
The more revealing you can be about yourself, or the more you can put your expertise to use, the better your chances of getting your press release printed. If you have a specialty, you should always write your press releases to emphasize your niche. For instance, if you specialize in selling pool homes, you would write about news related to pool homes. Here is one example:
POOL HOMES EXPERT SAYS ADDING A POOL TO YOUR HOME
INCREASES SALES PRICE BY 18 PERCENT.

Another approach is to provide valuable real estate advice based on your specialty:
POOL HOMES EXPERT SHARES TIPS FOR MAXIMIZING
THE SALES PRICE OF POOL HOMES.

Your press releases don’t necessarily have to be real estate related, either. This article would position you as a good Samaritan while also lending credibility and building your name as a pool home expert:
POOL HOMES SPECIALIST PROVIDES TIPS
FOR SAFE SUMMER POOL USAGE.

All it takes to become a successful writer of press releases is a little creativity and a good angle. One way to develop content for press releases is to carefully listen to the questions customers ask you on a frequent basis. Think about how those questions – or even just one question, could be answered in the form of a press release. For instance:
LOCAL REAL ESTATE EXPERT REVEALS SYSTEM
TO SELL YOUR HOME FOR TOP DOLLAR.

You don’t have to always do it yourself, either. The Hobbs/Herder Gateway Key Kit includes many pre-written press releases ready for agents to use. The two-day Hobbs/Herder MegaMarketing conference covers public relations in depth and shares an abundance of tips designed to help agents augment their marketing campaigns with PR.

Building Your Own Credibility
One of the keys to effective public relations is knowing your audience. Not the end-user reader, but the editors to whom you will send your press releases. First of all, you must always ensure that you have identified the correct editor or else all your effort will go to waste. That’s why it’s always a good idea to call each publication on a quarterly basis to double-check the names and contact information for the real estate and local section editors. Your goal then becomes to gain credibility in the eyes of those editors. You want them to recognize your name so it stands out among the many press releases they receive on a daily basis.

Second, you need to develop what is called a press kit. This can be a presentation folder that includes a personal biography, a copy of your personal brochure, any ads you run and a bullet-pointed feature sheet listing your qualifications and areas of expertise. Obviously, the better the quality of the materials in your press kit, the better impression you’re going to make on the editors who receive it. You should mail a press kit to each editor annually.

The next step is to try to develop relationships with selected editors, especially those affiliated with smaller, local publications. Give them a call and offer to take them to lunch. If that fails, ask if you can stop by and introduce yourself sometime. Your goal is to get that face-to-face meeting so that you stand out among the press releases they receive. Establishing relationships with editors can also have another benefit – if you are the first real estate agent in their mind, they will come to you when a reporter has a need for a real estate resource in an article. Being used as a source in hard news articles lends tremendous credibility to you.

Finally, don’t get discouraged easily if your press releases don’t get printed. Editors have busy news days and slow news days. Your goal is to be there when they have a need, regardless if it’s a slow news day or not. The only way to do that is to be consistent with your press releases and continue to foster your relationship with editors.

A Shining Example
Jada Sparks of Anderson, Indiana is a great example of an agent who has reaped great rewards from running a consistent public relations campaign. After attending MegaMarketing and hearing about the possibilities of public relations, she put together a press kit and began sending one press release a week to various publications in her market.

Before long, one of the local periodicals contacted Jada and asked her to write a quarterly real estate column for the paper. She was writing weekly press releases anyway, so this was akin to the paper guaranteeing to run one each quarter. And the results speak for themselves. Jada has tripled her production in the last three years and says her clients frequently quote things she has written in the articles. She takes those quotes as an understanding of how instrumental her public relations efforts have been on her success.

When you’re in the paper, it’s instant credibility, Jada says. It enhances everything you do. Why not utilize it?

PR vs. Marketing
There is probably someone out there reading this article and thinking, If public relations is so effective and it’s free, why do anything else? Jada provided the answer above.
Public relations will be most effective at enhancing the rest of your marketing efforts rather than building your brand alone. When people are receiving your direct mail materials and seeing your TV spots and billboards, once they recognize you in a news story, your credibility rises. Suddenly the next time they receive your Powerkard there’s a sense of excitement, Hey this is the woman who I read about in the paper or Hey this is the guy I saw on TV. The public relations activity elevates the effectiveness of everything else you do.

Additionally, public relations is not an exact science. You do not have control over what will run or when it will run. Direct mail, TV and print advertising obviously provide you with the control. That’s why PR is a great tool to complement your other, paid marketing activities, but not something that should be done as a stand-alone activity.

What Are You Waiting For?
Jada Sparks estimates it takes her assistant 30 minutes each week to write a press release and maybe another 30 to mail them to the various publications. That effort and the cost of postage is a small price to pay for the rewards that she’s seen as a result. That’s why there are only two excuses for agents not including public relations in their marketing mix: one, they didn’t know about it or how to do it, and two, because they‚’re lazy. Well, now that you know about it and how to do it, that leaves only one reason why you wouldn’t use PR to your advantage.

Schedule an hour on your calendar next week to get started. Then during that time, sit down and write a press release. It doesn’t have to be long, 300 or 400 words is plenty. Then determine who the editors are in your area and begin your campaign. Finally, remember that this is not an overnight process, but with commitment and consistency, public relations will play a critical role in your overall personal marketing efforts.