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Publicity Tips for Real Estate Agents

Wednesday, October 24, 2007 - By: Joan Stewart

Does this sound like you?

• You can’t understand why the business reporter at your local newspaper has quoted your competitor in five separate stories but hasn’t called you once.

• Your real estate office sends out more than two dozen news releases every year about new agents and promotions, but they result in little more than a few lines of type.

• The speech your boss wrote when he spoke at the local Rotary Club luncheon would have made an excellent column for the local business magazine. But after you mailed it to the editor, you never heard a word.

If your attempts at media coverage have fallen flat, quit grumbling and start taking a proactive approach to free publicity. Hundreds of other real estate agents are doing just that. They are being helpful and offering themselves as resources for reporters who need background information, commentary and story ideas on the real estate industry.

How to be helpful

Dave Delahunt never missed a chance to toot his own horn when he owned RE/MAX Lakeside Realty in Milwaukee, Wisconsin a few years ago. He made sure he got to know reporters. When Del Jones, a reporter from USA Today, called to do a story on how school districts affect he price of homes, Jones mentioned that he was coming to Milwaukee to do research. So Delahunt invited him to lunch. As a result, Jones quoted him in the story, and Delahunt's photo accompanied the article. "Now, the reporter calls me every six months just to check in and find out what's new in the real estate industry," Delahunt said.
Here are other ways to be helpful:

• Call reporters and invite them for lunch or coffee. Let them know the areas (residential real estate, commercial real estate, mortgage lending, buyer agency etc.) in which you are an expert, and encourage them to call on you.
• Fax or mail copies of industry reports, articles from trade publications and tips about trends you are seeing to your media contacts. This helps them understand the real estate industry and it keeps your name in front of them.
• Tell the media about the biggest problems that buyers and sellers are facing and how you help them solve those problems.
• Offer your opinions on proposed legislation that deals with changes in the real estate industry. See http://www.publicityhound.com/publicity-products/marketing-tapes/editorialpages.html.
• Give the media news tips and story ideas, even if they don’t relate to real estate. Establish yourself as a valuable resource and reporters will keep coming back to you for more information.

Think creatively

Delahunt also hosted a weekly radio talk show about real estate and got free air time. The station lined up sponsors, and he frequently recruited sponsors on his own. If you can't get your own show, at least try to book a spot as a guest on other people's shows. See http://www.publicityhound.com/publicity-products/reports.html.
Delahunt also submitted a photo of himself inside the radio studio to the official RE/MAX newspaper distributed to 50,000 agents worldwide. Three other agents saw the photo and sent him referrals, all of whom bought or sold houses through Delahunt's office. See http://www.publicityhound.com/publicity-products/marketing-tapes/publicize_yoursmall_business.html.

Write, write write

Establish yourself as an expert by writing for local, regional and national publications, as well as trade publications. If you’re an agent who cannot write well or you don’t have the time, call on your marketing director for help. Or hire a local freelance writer to “ghost write “ under your name. See http://www.publicityhound.com/publicity-products/reports.html. Here are some other ideas to help you get started:

• Write letters to the editor of your local newspaper. Letters that have the best chance of being published are those that comment on stories the newspaper has printed. Keep your letters as brief as possible. See http://www.publicityhound.com/publicity-products/reports.html.
• Submit opinion columns on hot local topics for the opinion page. It’s best to call the editor first and pitch your idea for a column. Ask about specific guidelines such as the word length and deadlines. Don’t forget to include your photo. See http://www.publicityhound.com/publicity-products/marketing-tapes/editorialpages.html.
• Write articles for print newsletters, an often overlooked publicity vehicle. Newsletter editors are hungry for material. A great resource is the Oxbridge Directory of Newsletters which lists more than 18,000 newsletters, by category and industry, and includes contact names and phone numbers. This resource directory is available in most major libraries.
• Write for electronic newsletters and magazines that serve the real estate industry, or those publications that are read by people who you want to get in front of.
• Write White Papers or special reports on hot topics in the real estate industry, and offer them free to the public. See http://www.publicityhound.com/publicity-products/reports.html.
• Get the editorial calendar for your local business journal and see which special sections are devoted to real estate. Call, write or email the editor of that section and pitch a story idea about your industry. It can be anything from creative ways that agents are hosting open houses to the advantages of buyer agency. See http://www.publicityhound.com/publicity-products/marketing-tapes/usebusiness.html.

Speak, speak, speak

Public speaking can pay huge dividends. Not only can you snag free publicity through newspaper stories about your presentation, you can attract the attention of people in the audience who might contact you later to list their homes. Ideas include:

• Hit the “chicken and pea circuit.” Chambers of commerce, Rotary clubs, business groups and even local community groups always need speakers. Pick a topic that no one else is speaking about. Collect business cards from audience members and give away a door prize. Then add the business cards to your database for future marketing campaigns.

• Conduct classes through your local college or university.

• Join Toastmasters to learn platform skills and become known as someone who loves to speak.

• If you want to make money from speaking, join the http://www.nsaspeaker.org/, or a statewide speakers association. See http://www.publicityhound.com/publicity-products/reports.html.

• Whenever you write articles, include a paragraph at the end telling readers that you are available for speaking engagements.

• Call local TV stations and invite them to call on you for comment when they’re doing stories about the real estate industry. See http://www.publicityhound.com/publicity-products/marketing-tapes/getinthenews.html.


Joan Stewart is a speaker, trainer and consultant specializing in developing
and maintaining good relations with the print and a broadcast media.
Reprinted from "The Publicity Hound's Tips of the Week," a free ezine
featuring tips, tricks and tools for generating free publicity.

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