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How to achieve positive media coverage

publication date: Apr 23, 2006
author/source: Bob Ward
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Building an image in the community is one of the objectives of successful real estate agents. Along with participation in community activities, public speaking and sponsorship of community and sporting events, media coverage is a strategy which will result in enhancing both the image of the principal and that of the agency. Media coverage is a critical strategy as it leads to a belief in the community that the person quoted in the article or appearing in a radio or television interview, must be an expert as they wouldn’t be there otherwise. There is no perception that the “expert” is there because he or she initiated the article or interview by issuing a press release.

Bob Ward outlines a blueprint to achieve media coverage, which is not exhaustive but covers most of the relevant bases. For some this feature may be considered elementary but believe us – there are many that need a little ‘concentration of the mind’!

His ten point plan includes the following strategies:-

1. Determine details of the media outlets in your catchment area and the names of the journalists/ presenters, who cover property issues or are radio or television news reporters.
It makes good sense to check out where you are likely to obtain coverage and who the decisionmakers are at each media outlet. Media outlets include newspapers, radio stations and television stations.
This won’t take long but will be a list that you will continually refer to before generating media coverage.

2. Make contact with these journalists/ presenters and ask them what topics are of special interest to them for publication or interviews. You need to know what stories or angles are going to interest property journalists or presenters.
They range from celebrity purchasers or vendors to hard news stories such as your take on the impact of changes to the land tax rules and how property owners can reduce their land tax liability.

3 Don’t overlook local or community radio. Whilst the audiences are substantially smaller than their commercial siblings, they offer specific opportunities, even though they don’t command the same size audiences. Features of local and community radio stations, which offer opportunities are:-
• it’s generally easier to obtain an interview
• the interviews are usually longer than on commercial radio
• you can finetune your interview skills before commercial radio interviews

4 It’s time to schmooze your contacts. This simply means getting acquainted with them over a cuppa or another type of beverage and establishing rapport.

5. Develop a hit-list of topics on which you can obtain coverage in the media. These topics could include:-`
• celebrity purchasers or vendors - celebrities could include sportsmen or sportswomen or movie, television or radio personalities. One point, which should never be overlooked here, is that you must obtain the express permission of the celebrity before releasing any details of the transaction to the newspaper and never mention price.
• first home buyer market activity
• first time residential property investors
• local property price movement and sales volume
• auction results

6. Write your press release and ensure it includes your contact numbers, e-mail address and website details. Include your photo with the release.Press releases should:-
• Be based on the five ‘w’s’ Who Why What When Where

And the 1 ‘h’ How
• Be a double spaced single page
• Be addressed to a particular journalist
• Include a snappy headline – to obtain the journalist’s attention. As journalists and radio and television presenters or producers receive a large volume of press releases, you need, not only to appear professional with your press release, but also be able to grab their attention with a headline, which is just a bit different. Make it as easy as possible for journalists to do their jobs – they may simply publish or read what is included in your press release or ring you and ask for further details.

7. Ring your contact and let them know that you have a press release on its way to them. They may indicate to you that they are not remotely interested in that topic or knock you over with their enthusiasm to look at it.

8. Wait for publication of your release or for the producer/presenter to arrange an interview. Don’t follow up and ask when it will be published or go to air or this may never happen. Journalists and presented hate being harassed about whether a story is going to be published or going to air. There aren’t too many overnight successes in the area of media coverage. You will definitely have some challenges (disappointments) but you can always learn from them.

9. Thank the journalist/presenter for publishing or interviewing you.
A little bit of courtesy can often go a long way and will distinguish you from others.

10. Take advantage of talk-back radio programmes
It’s not uncommon for talk-back radio programmes to respond to listeners’ calls regarding real estate related issues. When these calls go to air, there is a window of opportunity for a real estate agent to call the programme with a response or comment. You then become an unscheduled guest on the programme and it could lead to a more formal role when the presenter is covering a real estate issue, himself or herself.
At the very least, it’s a major boost for your credibility, as long as you can slip your name and that of your agency into the conversation
We have only scratched the surface with these ten tips but, hopefully, they’ve whet your appetites for media activity.

If you follow these tips, you could reach the situation where the media is contacting you for your opinion on a particular issue, rather than you always initiating the contact.

Attribution Bob Ward, a licensed real estate agent and trainer, is a director of the Australian company, Lot 109 Pty. Limited You can subscribe to Bob’s free monthly public relations and training e-mail newsletter, “The Lot 109 Letter”, at http://www.