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Should a International Real Estate Agency Hire a Public Relations Firm?

The Pinnacle List

It isn’t just the so-called celebrity real estate agents, or those who cater to rarified-air-breathing billionaires and status-seeking social climbers that hire publicists.

More and more real estate agents across the country, in markets big and small, are hiring public relations firms or publicists to help them define their brands and beef up their presence in the market. If you’re feeling the need to get noticed and are considering hiring someone to help you, read on.

First Things First
Retaining a public relations firm or a publicist isn’t cheap. Although there are a number of pricing structures, the most common is the retainer. The agent pays the firm a set amount every month. This fee is based on how much work the firm estimates they’ll spend on your account. Senior publicists will cost more than the juniors in the firm.

Who Should Hire a Publicist?
Niche specialists seem to be the best candidates for working with a public relations firm or a publicist. New York City agent Mike Akerly first hired a publicist to help promote the new construction projects his team was working on.

“We had always made attempts to bring attention to our clients’ projects during the predevelopment phase, but we later realized that a publicist could help us promote them on a much larger platform,” he said.

The publicist took the projects’ promotion from real estate trades and local newspapers to being featured in The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.
“We just wouldn’t have that type of access on our own, nor would we be taken seriously when sending an unsolicited press release,” Akerly explained.

As you can imagine, an agent who decides to specialize as a “celebrity real estate agent, go-to Realtor® for professional athletes and entertainment industry professionals,” will need a solid brand before pursuing these clients.

This is what brought Jay Morrison of Sotheby’s International in Fort Lee, N.J. to the realization that he needed some help. “I was advised … that I needed to brand myself first before I aggressively attacked such a niche and highly sought after market. I … knew I would need some “PR” muscle behind me,” he recalled.

Malibu native and Beverly Hills agent Chad Rogers’ “Team” website page reads more like a Hollywood luminary’s than that of a real estate agent. Not only does he count an “expert publicist” on his team, but a grand total of four separate public relations companies supply him with an entertainment publicist, a public speaking agent and a talent agent. Aside from a slew of media appearances, including two on Bravo’s “Million Dollar Listing,” he sells a ton of real estate, so the team is obviously doing the heavy lifting. It helps, of course, that Rogers is personable and knowledgeable about his market.

So, do you need to be a Hollywood or New York real estate superstar to hire a publicist? Not according to Christian Grothe, agent with Michigan’s Max Broock Realty.

“I think it is a great idea for an agent to get a publicist if their business and budget allows,” he responded. “Effectively spreading the word about your services is a core element in further growing an agent’s business.”
When asked if he feels that big city agents are better candidates for a publicist, he replied: “It seems to me that agents in big cities have a more serious opportunity to benefit from a publicist, since there are so many different media outlets, events and other ways to get involved in the community.

It is more difficult to get noticed in a larger market as an agent, and a good publicist should be able to assist with that process.”
For the average agent in a small or medium market there are lots of marketing efforts that will most likely bring a higher return on their marketing investment dollar. For those agents with a healthy marketing budget, however, who are seeking to dominate a competitive niche – to become the big fish in a very large pond – hiring a publicist might be the way to get there.

Author: Shannon O’Brien