By Linda S. Alexander, President, Alexander Marketing Corp.
So many ways to get the word out! Public relations used to be one of the holy triad of marketing mediums, alongside advertising and direct marketing. But today, PR is an umbrella for multiple platforms, not the least of which is social media.
When I started working in this universe known as real estate, first as a marketing director, then as writer and later, a publicist, the focus was entirely on print and broadcast media.
People got their information from newspapers, television and radio. Companies, development projects, property sales, leases, etc. were branded and promoted through those mediums. Receiving media coverage was the primary way for individuals to be identified as experts in their respective fields.
Those days may reflect a more straightforward methodology for us publicists, but there were also fewer opportunities for conveying a distinct brand message. So it’s no surprise that with a wealth of ways to present a client’s message, our traditional publicist moniker has changed to encompass communications on a much broader scale.
I still love to send out a well-written press release or craft a concise pitch for an alert editor; and I am still a newspaper junkie. But other mediums have grown equally powerful for telling a client’s story. There are blogs, digital-exclusive publications and social media with which to effectively provide newsworthy information.
Without question, social media spreads information faster than any other medium. When it is linked to conventional media and blogs, it offers a well-rounded, interactive mode of communicating a story.
Although I was a reluctant recruit to social media, the value it has brought to our clients’ projects and brands is exciting. LinkedIn, for example, expands professional networks universally. In addition, it is an effective platform for discussing deals and development projects, which is why we make sure our clients are well-represented on this platform.
With residential development projects, Facebook is indispensable for providing comprehensive details through words and pictures. Implemented correctly, it will combine editorial quality with targeted marketing. Facebook offers a landscape for creativity with the capacity to engage unlimited numbers of people.
Mea culpa, I was late to the Twitter party: it jarred my inner-verbosity. But I’ve come to regard it as an amazingly effective platform that demands verbal/conceptual discipline, which is why so many reporters use it to push out stories.
The downside is that it is also a digital soapbox for grandstanders, naysayers and bullies who misuse it as a channel for invective and negativity. But in this mile-a-millisecond world, a quick message can induce further communication and with links to digital news, the full stories are available, literally, at our fingertips.
At Alexander Marketing, not only does our social media team provide current content on behalf of our clients, we use it to engage with media. It is as much a part of communications services in our shop as conventional media PR, reputation management, and events co-ordination.
In my role as co-chair of communications for Community Board 7/Manhattan. I tweet during board meetings, providing information about programs being sponsored by area schools, libraries and our elected officials. This summer, we started a bi-monthly live chat hosted by the Board Chair. The result is that we are engaging people throughout the district who would not normally participate in events that may directly affect them.
For development projects, gorgeous homes, exclusive agencies, we help clients tell their stories in pictures on Instagram! We are working on an incredibly sexy, 120-unit residential development in FiDi that is all about curated photography by iconic rock-and-roll photographers from the 1970s and 80s. It is a truly fertile platform for Instagram!
Not so long ago, an erstwhile client asked me about our use of social media and I explained that what we did as publicists was far more effective for her brand. Kind of condescending, as I look back, or just ignorant.
From my perspective at that time, who besides teenagers and Kardashians cared about what was happening on Facebook. Maybe LinkedIn had some professional merit, but not the other platforms. Rather, they were emblematic of a pervasive and collective narcissism in society. Then my graphic designer husband shot an adorable video of me teaching a cooking class on YouTube. But that was educational. The point is, it’s all educational at varying levels, and certainly informative. Every opportunity to communicate a concept, a project, an accomplishment, a deal, whether it’s good news or controversial, has merit.
Communications has hit the cosmos with endless opportunities to tell a story in ways that are more exciting and inclusive than ever before.