As a millennial myself, I am acutely aware of the myriad of think pieces and articles that seem to appear on a daily basis trying to understand millennials and how they fit into a wide range of industries. So far, we have been blamed for the demise of napkins, corked wine and cruise ships along with a whole host of other vitally important American institutions. It is clear from each of these articles that my generation (born between 1977 and 1994) and to a greater extent the one following it, Generation Z (born between 1995 and 2012), are disruptors of the highest magnitude capable of hastening the demise of everything from soap bars to home ownership.
Commercial real estate firms are no strangers to this disruption. As millennials have become a larger and more visible part of the workforce, their preference on living and working in exciting and vibrant communities has radically changed the focus of the industry and has led to the total reinvention of buildings and towns throughout the country, especially in New Jersey.
In this spirit of disruption, millennial business owners and residential tenants have radically changed the game when it comes to how commercial real estate companies, whether a brokerage, developer or investor, reach and secure clients. Just as business as usual doesn’t fly anymore in how and where buildings are developed, it doesn’t work in how relationships with today’s consumer are built.
As millennials and Generation Z continue to integrate themselves into the machinery of the economic engine, it will become vitally important for real estate firms to find ways to speak directly to them to attract business. Finding the right public relations firm that can place your company’s name front and center through a consistent and targeted public relations program that resonates with these groups is more crucial now than ever and can be the difference between record profits and record losses.
But what makes the right commercial real estate public relations firm?
Understanding of your target audience
Today’s consumer values authenticity above all else. Millennials and Generation Z are fiercely brand loyal but also possess a heightened distrust of brands, making gaining their valuable trust extremely difficult. Their motivations for financial and commercial decisions more heavily value emotional factors such as a brand’s commitment to sustainability or ethical business practices over how much money a company makes. Whether they are millennial-owned company or a Gen Z tenant looking for a new home, consumers are not just searching for a place to live or work, they are searching for a home and community. With that in mind, millennials and Gen Z alone do not make up the entire audience. Public relations firms with experience in commercial real estate understand the value of segmenting communications to every audience, whether millennial or boomer, and not solely targeting one at the expense of others.
An emphasis on an integrated, multichannel communications strategy?
Previously, commercial real estate public relations strategies revolved around sending out press releases, placing some ads in the leading publications and maybe setting up speaking engagements for an executive a few times a year. That model is dead now.
In order to be front of mind with today’s consumer, an integrated communications strategy incorporating a mix of paid (advertising), earned (media placements), social (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) and owned (thought leadership and blogs) media is vital. This multichannel strategy allows your brand to gain authority among your audiences through a variety of outlets. If executed properly over a period of time, this strategy builds the trusting and loyal client relationships that many facets of commercial real estate business are dependent on and that today’s consumers value so highly. A public relations firm that does not emphasize this holistic approach will be unable to get your message out effectively to your targeted audiences. Yes, it is important that your deals and transactions are in the news, but If consumers do not know who you are or trust your voice, your news coverage will be ineffective as a means for building relationships and brand authority.
A strong value placed in message development
An integrated and targeted communications strategy is useless if the message being disseminated is hollow, boring or, worse yet, disingenuous. Although you may not know what it is yet, your company has a unique voice and a message. The right public relations firm can unlock that brand identity through a deep dive into what makes your company unique and what qualities consumers are looking for in a real estate business. Bland and generic communications do a great disservice to the work of your business, and hiring a firm that builds a communications strategy around those materials is a waste of money that would be better spent elsewhere. An effective public relations firm will evaluate what your business does best, develop messaging around that strength, and ensure that it gets in front of the right people.
What is the firm’s reputation?
A public relations firm specializing in commercial real estate should have a wide range of experience working in the field and the locale where your business does most of its work. The experience and knowledge gained from working with previous clients is vital to understanding consumers and the media landscape surrounding real estate. Just like you wouldn’t trust a contractor who has only constructed houses to build an office building, you shouldn’t trust a public relations firm that has never worked in real estate to effectively work for your company.
Making the right choice when hiring and retaining a public relations firm for your commercial real estate business is a task that should not be taken lightly. Just like you continually evaluate markets, your portfolio and the competition, you should constantly evaluate your public relations needs to ensure your public relations firm is capturing the right audiences to grow your bottom line.
Looking for a change in direction? Drop me an email and I’d be happy to show you how R&J can make a difference for your company.