Want Publicity? You Gotta' Be
Willing to Give

By Debra K. Traverso

Copyright 2007 by Debra Traverso, OneCall
All rights reserved in all media.

The content of this article may be forwarded in full without special permission provided it is used for nonprofit purposes and full attribution and copyright notice are given. For all other purposes, contact Debra Traverso at dtraverso@makejustonecall.com.

There she is again, staring back at you from that "Ask the Expert" column in your local paper. Once again, she's building trust and familiarity with prospects that should be yours.

What's more, she's dispensing real estate advice that you could have penned with your eyes closed. Why does she have all the luck?

Answer: She doesn't. Luck has nothing to do with it! Nor does the right-place-right-time myth.

Publicity only comes to Realtors and brokers who make it happen. Unfortunately, publicity is often overlooked as a key marketing tool to gain attention and interest in a service or office. Using publicity as a sales tool can be a much more effective method of generating sales than buying advertising, because people assume they'll get objectivity and useful information from articles, columns, news stories, radio and TV interviews, how-to pieces, and the like. And let's face it, publicity is generally free—you can't beat that price tag.

Multiple Choices
So what are your options? Let's take a look—you could: (1) appear on a local radio or TV talk show; (2) be the subject of an article in a local newspaper or magazine; (3) write an article or column; (4) become part of a radio business panel discussing issues that are pertinent to home buyers or sellers; (5) speak at association meetings or chamber of commerce gatherings; (6) serve as a resource for reporters who need background information, commentary and opinions on the real estate industry; and (7) participate in any of hundreds of publicity opportunities that increase image and office/service awareness. (Of course, any publicity opportunity should be pursued with broker knowledge and support, and within the realm of rules and good practices.)

More Than Meets the Eye
Now, take a look at what the ideas above have in common: In each situation you're offering free and useful advice to consumers, or being helpful by offering yourself as a resource for reporters who need background information, commentary, and story ideas on the real estate industry.

That's what I like most about this marketing method—not only does it help you, but it also helps other people. Call me a Pollyanna, but my personal beliefs and experience are such that "getting begins with giving." Witness this article. Someday, somewhere, a broker (my target audience) is going to size up my face and my words, feel a sense of trust with me because they gleaned a useful idea from what I offered, and then will make the effort to ask me about my company's mobile manager service for REALTORS®.

Ironically, we shy away from publicity because we think it's all about "me," but publicity actually forces you to think about giving, not getting. The result could be that you help someone else succeed, while you simultaneously do so yourself. Now isn't that worth doing?

You bet! So let's get started.

And Away You Go
The first thing you must do is make local news media aware that you're interested in being helpful. Call real estate or business reporters and offer to buy a cup of coffee or lunch. Tell them how little time you'll need. (Reporters have busy schedules.) Compliment specific articles they've done (Do some homework). Let them know the areas (commercial, residential, mortgage lending, etc.) in which you are an expert, and encourage them to call you. Tell them about your experience so that they have some facts to work with and to remember you by, but skip the sales pitch. (Reporters don't like to be sold, nor is it their job to promote your business or help you sell your service.)

If you're confidant you can follow through (and you have the authority to do so), tell them you can provide industry reports and tips about trends you see in the industry. Let them know you can give opinions and quotes on legislation affecting the real estate industry, and that you can draw conclusions and/or comparisons to the impact the legislation might have in your town. Be sure to ask them how they like to receive information (e-mail, fax, phone, snail mail), then follow up by sending information in a short period of time. This will put your name in front of them again. Check in with them periodically, without being a pest.

Of course, there are a gazillion other things you can do with/for the news media, but my space here is limited. In short, if you want to write a column, put some samples together and approach the business editor of your paper. If you want to get on the radio, arrange to meet the appropriate talk show hosts, and tell them you'd like to serve as a resource. If you want to pitch story ideas, put a pitch letter together and send it in. (Be sure, however, to include a "hook" or compelling reason why someone should listen to your story. The hook should always be in the form of a solution to a problem. And, for newspapers/magazines, think visuals — reporters and editors love stories accompanied with pictures.)

Bring It On Home
Sadly, many people lose publicity opportunities because they're hard to reach. In a perfect world, any reporter who could give you valuable publicity would sit by the phone waiting for your return call. But the truth is, reporters always work on a deadline, and the moment you don't answer, they've decided to move on. But they don't move on to the other numbers on your card; instead, they move on to another source.

Reporters refuse to play the multiple numbers game—they want one number that will reach you 24/7. If you haven't consolidated all your contact numbers into one number for your clients, then it's time to do so now for your publicity opportunities. (Don't assume your cell phone is the answer to this dilemma—cell phones are notoriously unreliable, expensive, and always need to be re-charged when a reporter calls.) Yes, OneCall provides this service, but you don't have to use us; there are others out there, so shop around.

Awed Shucks!
Are the homework, the time, and the consolidated phone numbers worth the investment and the resulting publicity? You bet! People will read (or hear) your name, pay you compliments, store you in their memory banks, and best of all, will trust you because, without realizing why, they'll feel more comfortable with you because you gave them free advice.

Copyright 2007 by Debra Traverso, OneCall
All rights reserved in all media.


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