Ask These Eight Questions Before Hiring a PR Firm or Launching a PR Program

If you’ve wondered how a public relations program can grow your business or elevate your expertise, you probably have a lot of questions.

So, I’m providing your answers all in one place, since I recently was asked about PR for beginners during the popular webcast, Lunch with Lucy, by VHT Studios (watch the video interview by clicking here).

Host Lucy Edwards focuses on PR for real estate brokers, or B2B real estate businesses. However, my answers apply to any business professional who wants to make news through a PR campaign.

Why do companies in the real estate industry come to you?  What do you do for them?

Companies turn to me when they are in growth mode and realize they must do more than advertise to attract the attention of prospective customers, or their key stakeholders.  They realize when you’re quoted in the news or featured in a podcast like this one, the host or the outlet considers you an expert. That is independent validation that you are smart and great at what you do. It’s a huge credibility boost.  It makes you look bigger than you really are, when you’re quoted alongside giant companies. 

When you say you help them make news  — do you mean on TV, in the newspaper, online, in podcasts or blogs, on radio? 

That’s a great question. Because these days, we have so many places to share your news, and it all depends on your strategy and your target audiences. For example, I have helped VHT’s CEO Brian Balduf, make news in Realtor Magazine, online and in their Facebook site, which has 1 MILLION  followers. I’ve secured interviews for Brian on Cable TV networks, Chicago newspapers, Chicago business outlets, business radio, and trade publications such as Inman news, RIS Media, and real estate podcasts. It depends how big your audience is and where they are most likely to get their information. 

When I speak to real estate agents, I often talk about the value of their brands. How does being in the news improve your brand or your image? 

Being in the news strengthens your professional brand.  It elevates your position as an expert. It proves your are sought after and that your insights and opinions are valued by media outlets that have tens or hundreds of thousands of followers.  And when you make news, you are boosting your brand when you can say to others, or on social media, that “The Chicago Tribune asked me for my thoughts on current real estate marketing trends.” That is a giant differentiator between you and your competitor, especially when you can provide  a link to that story online. 

Can you give us a few examples about how a company can make news?

PR can take a variety of forms – but the main thing is that you have news and information that your customers or other key audiences care about. I help businesses and nonprofits identify that news, and how to attract attention by presenting news in an eye-catching or compelling way.  You may want to do Event PR, to make news about a holiday Giving Season appeal or a new business opening. Or there’s Public Relations for a new product launch. Or you are promoting a webinar and seeking registrants. Or you may be announcing a new acquisition, a new CEO, a new headquarters or an expansion to a new city.  My clients turn to me for all of that for more, and they ask me to write press releases and other materials to help get their news out to their priority audiences.

How do you position yourself so reporters want to call you and get your opinion.  

You have to make the first move. If you want to talk to reporters and get in the news, you need to initiate the conversation by reaching out to journalists or podcasters or producers. And you shouldn’t feel intimidated by it, because they’re human too, and they need a steady stream of fresh sources. Contacting them can be easy, if you have a plan.

If you don’t know where to start, ask yourself this: “Where do I get my industry news? Is it from a local news outlet? A national online outlet? A real estate trade publication, or an industry influencer?” Who is your favorite reporter at that outlet?   For example, some of the best real estate writers work at major market news outlets such as the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, Crain’s Chicago Business, Crain’s Detroit, The Miami Herald, the Seattle Times. And of course, there are the trade outlets such as Realtor Magazine, Inman News, RIS Media.

Subscribe to one or a few of them and follow the journalists you like the most. Read their stories and better yet, comment on or share their stories on your social platforms.  When you share their news with your clients, you demonstrate you’re staying on top of the industry.

Send a note to that report, telling her what you liked about a recent story and offering a tip or insights for a future report. 

For example, this week, the New York Times published a story asking “Will Real Estate Ever Be Normal Again?” That question will be debated for months to come! Share your answer to that question and provide an anecdote about your personal experience. 

This week, Crain’s Chicago Business reported on rats running rampant in city neighborhoods. I’m sure you all have a story to share on that, and you can use it as a launching point for contacting Dennis Rodkin, who is extremely responsive to emails and is very active on Facebook as well.

Offer to stay in touch, and tell the reporter that you often come across beautiful or unique properties that may interest him.

How can you find those reporters in other markets?

Look for their email addresses (which you can often find in their byline). If they don’t publish their email address, you can often find it in the Contact the Newsroom section of their web sites,  their Twitter profiles, or through a Google search. 

Another thing I talk to agents about is their marketing strategy. Do you have a PR strategy when you work with your clients? 

Definitely! In business and in life, a strategy makes all the difference. Before I launch any PR program with clients, I ask: 

  • Who are you trying to reach? 
  • What is your message? How are you presenting that message in the most compelling way?
  • What actions do you want your audience to take?
  • How will they learn about this?
  • What results do you want to see?

Our strategy is based on the answer to those questions. And our strategy dictates the tactics we will use to execute a PR initiative.

So after they’ve made the news, what happens next?

Repurpose it. Capitalize on it! Take Full Advantage of It!Leverage it. Extend its long tail! All those answers are marketing jargon for this simple phrase: Share it far and wide! With your friends, families, customers and prospects. For example:

  • Send out an email to your list, sharing this interesting story that you happened to be quoted in. Mention that the reporter asked you to comment on this most interesting topic affecting the industry.
  • Use it in a blog post. Write a blog that further expands on the topic you’re quoted about.
  • Buy copies of a print publication and send them out to your most important customers or prospects. Or have a reprint made and frame it on your office wall.
  • Use a reprint in your brochures that you hand out to prospective clients.
  • Excerpt your quote for the landing page on your web site with the promotional phrase: “As seen in…”

How can real estate agents and brokers learn more about how PR can help their business? 

I have several examples and insights to share on MichelleDamico.com. You can see other firm’s PR success stories. And you can reach out to me and we can set up a time to talk and bounce ideas around. 

 

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