Press is one of the most powerful marketing tools out there. But, it’s also one of the most challenging to make use of. The best press is the organic kind, and that can be hard to attract.
To land your name in the pages of local newspapers and magazines, you need to build relationships with the media, develop credibility as a trusted source, and maximize exposure of your name.
Here are four ways to get press for your real estate business:
1. Sign up with HARO
HARO — Help a Reporter Out — is a web service that connects journalists in search of a source with field experts with relevant experience and insight to share.
Experts like you, the realtor, sign up as a source. There are several different subscription packages, ranging from free to $149/month. The paid packages come with perks like being able to filter media opportunities by keyword, and phone support, but the free account should do the trick.
Once you’ve signed up, you’ll receive source requests three times per day. It’s then your job to browse those requests for ones that best match your expertise and experience.
When you spot the right fit, you’ll send an email to the journalist’s (masked) email address found in the request, along with any answers their request outlined. If the journalist is interested in speaking with you, they’ll reach out. If the story gets published, you’ll begin building your reputation as a trusted expert on matters relating to real estate.
Voila — free, authentic press.
2. Build your own target list of relevant writers
HARO is a hugely helpful service, but in addition to it, it’s also wise to maintain your own list of relevant reporters so that you can do your own outreach (more on that next).
Read your local and national newspapers, magazines, and web-only publications, and take down the names of the journalists who cover relevant topics. This could include real estate, home improvement, trends in home and home ownership. Then, do a little online digging to find their email addresses (many publications will include these in their online masthead).
In addition to their names and contact information, record what publications they write for, what topics they typically cover, and what geographic areas their focus extends to.
3. Reach out to journalists
In addition to replying to requests on HARO, do your own reaching out and send emails to the writers you’ve researched.
You can reach out with a pitch for a new story that you’ve identified as being unique and worth telling, or by drawing on your experience to offer context or insight on current hot topics or recently published statistics.
Skip the general introductory email: these clog up a reporter’s inbox and you probably won’t get a reply.
If you want to pitch a new story, make sure your idea is a real one (it’s backed up by facts or statistics, and isn’t simply your observation), that it hasn’t been written before, and that it’s of interest to more people than just realtors.
Look for a “news hook” — a detail that makes the story worth telling now rather than later. Perhaps sales in your area have increasingly been the result of crazy bidding wars. So a story about what realtors want buyers and sellers to know about the bidding war process might be of interest.
Other tips for pitching journalists:
- When reaching out, email is best. Reporters are busy, on-the-go people who only answer phones and make calls on their own schedule.
- Be authentic, and casual. Typical PR emails have a distinct sales ring to them, and can reek of desperation. Try to write as though you’re not selling yourself and that you just simply have a great idea or perspective you’d like to share.
- Keep it short. Introduce yourself (stick to a short bio that lists one to two of your achievements), pitch your idea, and provide contact information and a link to your website.
- Don’t count on an immediate response. Journalists receive dozens of pitches a day. If your idea is strong and its timeliness hasn’t died, follow up after three or so days.
4. Create — and promote — thought leadership content
While you’re waiting for HARO requests and responses from the journalists you’ve pitched, start developing your own thought leadership content for your website and for your social media channels.
Take note of the real estate-related topics currently dominating the headlines (market peaks and crashes, wild bidding wars, new builds, millennials entering the market, property shortages, etc.) and write your own blog posts, contextualizing the news and numbers, and offering your insights as an experienced realtor.
Creating this kind of content can help you get noticed by reporters who are googling for subject matter experts, and can legitimize your proactive pitches by proving your knowledge.
Share your thought leadership content via your Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn channels, both by writing your own posts and tweets, and participating in online discussions about the same subject.