The real estate industry is constantly making headlines, with current events and developments the reason for its prominence in the news. However, the reasons for its coverage today are vastly different from what they were a year ago.
I’ll preface this article by saying this is not about how the news media covers the real estate industry. We can talk about that another day.
The benefits of media coverage
From a professional standpoint, media coverage can be a valuable asset for real estate agents, elevating their personal brand and that of their teams, brokerages and companies.
There are many benefits to having your voice included in a news story, most notably increased visibility. How many hours do you spend networking, cold-calling and door-knocking?
Having your name (and sometimes face) featured in a story helps you reach tens of thousands of people; it can also help increase your visibility and credibility in the community, and the audience is more likely to trust you and view you as an expert.
Viewers or readers are more likely to remember you when they’re looking to buy or sell. Alternatively, they may reach out with additional questions or comments, which could help generate quality leads.
How to get featured
As a journalist with over a decade of experience, I have had a front-row seat to the inner workings of newsrooms and the process of sourcing and booking guests. My insights may provide some value in understanding the strategies realtors can use to secure media coverage.
Identify the right journalists to connect with
Newsrooms often dedicate a reporter to cover real estate and consumer-related topics, and their contact information can typically be found on the news organization’s website or the journalist’s social media accounts.
Pay attention to their work and identify opportunities for relevant contributions, such as providing additional information for a story or proposing a follow-up piece.
It’s also important to consider the scope of the story. Is it relevant to most Canadians or specific to people living in Winnipeg? If it’s the latter, it may be a story best suited for the local outlets.
Remember that while journalists have a degree of autonomy in their coverage, the assignment desk or news editor often makes final decisions. In the case of live television, it is usually a producer or chase producer who is responsible for booking guests.
Building relationships with these individuals can be key to successfully pitching yourself and your ideas.
Pitch your ideas
A pitch efficiently communicates your story idea or highlights your expertise as a commentator concerning a current news item.
Email is often the preferred method of contact for newsrooms. It allows you to convey your ideas succinctly and avoid adding to the already heavy workload of journalists via phone calls.
To maximize your chances of success, it is wise to anticipate the timing of key events, such as the release of market data, and reach out to producers or reporters in advance.
For example, if you know regional market data will be released at 5 a.m. next Friday, consider contacting local morning show producers well in advance. They often book guests several days ahead and will appreciate your being proactive.
Original content is highly valued in the industry, so if you have unique insights or observations about trends in your area, it is worth highlighting them in your pitch.
If you’ve built a relationship with a journalist or a newsroom, consider offering them the story and giving them the right of first refusal. This may help you solidify that relationship. If they do pick up the story– chances are you’ll hear from other news outlets once it goes live.
Remember to follow up with a single email, but if you do not receive a response, it may be best to move on.
Sidenote: There are many articles online about how to write a compelling pitch. I suggest reading some of those prior to penning yours.
Engage on social media
Social media platforms, particularly Twitter, can be a powerful tool for networking and increasing your credibility. You can position yourself as a valuable source of information by providing a unique perspective, sharing your expertise, and engaging with others in the industry.
Focus on what you know. For example, if data analysis is your area of expertise, share your insights on market reports and statistics. Consistently providing valuable content can help grow your audience and establish you as a trusted source of information.
Engage constructively with journalists on Twitter. When journalists think of real estate experts, they often turn to the people they have interacted with before.
Social media can also be a great place for identifying opportunities. By following journalists and media outlets, realtors can scope out chances to contribute to stories or pitch themselves as sources or commentators. Sometimes, journalists will do a ‘call-out’ when looking for a source for a story.
Be responsive and professional
Journalists operate on tight deadlines, often receiving assignments in the morning and expected to have them ready for broadcast or publication by late afternoon.
It is important to be flexible and accommodate their schedule, whether that means making yourself available at a specific time or offering alternative options such as Skype or Zoom. If you end up interviewing via video chat, ensure your internet connection is strong and ask the person on the other end to check your framing. Ask if there’s anything you can do to improve it.
Be mindful of the medium and adjust your approach accordingly. For instance, print journalism is typically more amenable to phone interviews.
Before the scheduled interview, clarify the story’s focus and request questions in advance. They may not be provided ahead of time, but it’s always worth asking.
During the interview, it’s good to remember the following:
- Strong opinions can make for impactful quotes, but ensure you can support them with data and facts.
- When answering questions, be detailed and informative. This will give the journalist more to work with when pulling clips and quotes for their story.
- Avoid rambling, especially if time is limited. For example, you’re doing a live interview, and the host tells you they only have 30 seconds left. In that case, get straight to the point.
Securing media coverage can be invaluable for real estate agents, but hiring a PR company or a publicist can get expensive.
If it is something you aspire to, consider this advice and remember to focus on your strengths and always be your authentic self. It may take some time and effort, but the reward can be substantial.
Do you have any advice to offer? Please leave it in the comments below!