We’ve all heard the expression “there’s no such thing as bad publicity,” but when it comes to real estate, your reputation can make or break your business. Your real estate business relies on relationships in order to grow, and most buyers and sellers will seek out a real estate professional in one of two ways: They will go with someone they know or seek out someone they can trust based on personal recommendations.
Building your reputation starts with running a productive business and consistent day-to-day professionalism. Reviews will start to come in as word spreads. Before long, public opinion becomes clear and accessible to anyone who seeks it. From there, it’s time to manage and maintain your reputation and brand awareness through marketing and public relations.
Step 1: Be Visible
Exposure and building publicity bring awareness to your real estate business and helps build credibility in the long run. An overall marketing and branding strategy that includes an online presence, social media, and email marketing is an important piece of your public relations effort. Digital marketing is more important than ever as the majority of buyers start their real estate search online.
Catching a buyer or seller early in their research process is important if you want to gain them as a client. Search engine optimization is critical to improve the visibility of your website and ultimately generate leads. If you’re not in a place to bring on a marketing or PR pro, there are many resources available to help you get started on your own. Just a simple online search for DIY SEO optimization tools can point you in the right direction—Google Keyword Planner, Semrush and Moz are a few of the most popular options.
Step 2: Be Heard
Your reputation will build itself as you work with more clients and become more involved in your local community. Networking and referrals are still largely done via word-of-mouth and are an important marketing tool, but many channels digital give you the opportunity to make your voice heard on subjects related to your local real estate market as well.
Managing your online reputation will help build your credibility and character with potential clients. Lead conversations and discussions by creating and monitoring a social media presence. Respond to reviews and comments where it’s appropriate, on both your social media channels and review sites like Google and Yelp. A response from a business attempting to resolve the situation eases the burn of a negative review in the eyes of the reader.
Consider adding a blog to your website or creating a newsletter where you can share your expertise and highlight your thought leadership. What are other leaders in the industry talking about? What issues are current hot topics in your community? You’re more likely to reach your target audience if your voice is a part of the conversations that are important to them.
Step 3: Be Recognized
When it comes to general publicity, you aren’t always in control of the message. A comprehensive public relations strategy will help you create a message that connects you and your business with potential clients. Data from a Nielsen advertising report shows that while around 50% of consumers say they trust advertisements, 92% say they trust earned media (any material published about you or your business that you haven’t paid for or created yourself, such as a news article). Buyers and sellers are certainly doing their research before they make a decision, and they want to work with someone they can trust – someone who has the knowledge, expertise and skills to get the job done.
The best way to build awareness and raise your profile as a real estate professional is to make an impact in your community and in your industry. An interview with the local newspaper or TV station can show buyers and sellers who you are and what makes you stand out from the competition. Use opportunities like these to consider important topics you might be able to comment on, highlighting your knowledge of the real estate market, and your local area. Research community events that you can participate in, or consider hosting your own. Find local organizations you can partner with that align with your business values to increase your reach to potential clients.
A great way to showcase and share industry knowledge is to create information, resources, and educational content that others can learn from. Even after a deal is done, your client relationships (and referrals) will benefit from sharing information clients can use like home maintenance and repair resources.
Your public relations efforts are directly tied to your reputation and can directly translate into new business (or lack thereof). That's why it is so important to start off on good footing and maintain a strong and positive persona.