The Real Deal
July, 2004

SPIN CITY:  THE ART OF PUBLIC RELATIONS

By Esther Muller

According to the 2003 National Association of Realtors Member Profile report, brokers and broker associates typically spent $1,700 on promotion and marketing in 2002. For sales agents, the average expenditure was $900.

I find these numbers disturbing.

Public relations and marketing are not frivolous items. They are essential tools that will grow your business substantially when they are used thoughtfully and consistently. Yet many veteran real estate professionals ignore or undervalue these business necessities.

Now is the perfect time to reevaluate your business model. An already competitive industry has become hyper-aggressive as many newcomers
with advanced degrees and business backgrounds are using publicity and marketing to launch themselves into the market. Remember the old saying,
“If you snooze, you lose?” Stop snoozing!

“You have to enhance your visibility,” says Faith Hope Consolo, vice chairman, Garrick-Aug Worldwide, Ltd.

She should know. While Consolo is considered one of the most prominent retail brokers and consultants in the industry, she doesn't rest on her laurels for a moment. To help maintain and strengthen her already formidable standing, Consolo has implemented a comprehensive public relations plan.

As part of the program, she gives at least two media interviews a day and issues at least one press release per week. Consolo is a regular contributor to many prestigious trade and consumer publications, and she lectures at numerous professional organizations throughout Manhattan.

Lisa Krishna, who along with team partner Kay O'Brien was the top 2002
and 2003 producer at DBL Realtors in Santa Monica, California, is an
avid marketer. One of her trademarks is a professionally designed and photographed four-color brochure that she creates for every new listing. Krishna, who has a master's degree in business, also has a very active
public relations program.

“Twenty-five to 30 percent of my total budget goes to marketing, publicity
and advertising,” she says. “And it's worth it. Ninety percent of my business
is through referrals and repeat business. You have to invest if you want to maintain and grow your business.”

You can see that this is also an investment of time and effort. I allot a minimum of 20 percent of my time to public relations and marketing. If you're not willing to dedicate yourself to this endeavor, your program won't work.

And while many of you may turn to your broker-owners' public relations and marketing departments for assistance, keep in mind that the executives in those departments may have hundreds of other brokers to represent. “While
I oversee the overall communications program, my assistant works with Dell’s marketing and public relations departments on an ongoing basis,” says Krishna. “This ensures that we get the individualized attention that we need – and it frees me up to do my main job.”

You may want to consider hiring your own publicist, as Consolo has done. She works with one of the top public relations firms in New York.

Referrals are a good way to find a publicist. Sit down and talk with the person, because personal chemistry is important. As Consolo says of her relationship with her public relations agency, “My goals are their goals.” Be realistic in your expectations and know how much you want to spend. This will help in the planning process.

So if you want to remain competitive, build your business and revel even more in the sweet smell of success, consider a proactive marketing and public relations program.