Great Ideas In: Consumer Outreach

The Maryland Association of REALTORS® builds REALTORS®' credibility with the public and the legislature by directly educating consumers on housing issues with its homebuyer education program. It also has a REALTOR®-branded consumer-focused website (marylandhomeownership.com) where members can refer clients for reliable information on homebuying, housing assistance programs, and avoiding foreclosure. These tools are also used, when needed, for issues advocacy.

Encourage members to spend some of their free time serving on non-REALTOR® local boards or planning committees, transportation task forces, or even public groups such as their local PTA. This creates valuable opportunities for them to influence public opinion about the association and what REALTORS® bring to the community.

Seattle King County REALTORS®' Housing Translator campaign (HousingTranslator.com) is designed to reach out to consumers and demonstrate REALTORS®' understanding of today's complex real estate market and to position the association and its members as leaders in proposing solutions for those who desire to be homeowners in the region.

"Hosting an affordable housing program in our distressed city was our greatest success [in 2016]. Many potential buyers didn't realize they could afford and qualify to buy a home. They didn't even try because they didn't think it was a possibility until they came to our event."
— Della Csehoski, RCE, CEO, Cambria Somerset Association of REALTORS®, PA.

The Spokane Association of REALTORS® hosted the first enterprise drone conference in the Pacific Northwest in 2017. The one-day conference focused on understanding drone applications, operations, safety, legality, and potential. JD Claridge, CEO and co-founder of drone manufacturer xCraft, was the keynote speaker. Tickets sold for $150. 
    
The San Antonio Board of REALTORS®' inspired members to share why they became a REALTOR® in a savvy Facebook campaign promoting the hashtag #UseARealtor.  

Repost NAR's social media materials and videos on your association's Facebook or Twitter page and encourage members to add the local perspective. Find materials on the NAR ­Facebook page (@NARdotRealtor) and follow NAR on Twitter (@NARdotRealtor). 

The Richmond Association of REALTORS®' long-running "We Are The R" public awareness campaign is successful because the association got members to back the content and drive the campaign to consumers. "If your campaign is a top-down, all staff-driven effort, it will cost much more and be far less effective," says Kelsey R. Croston, vice president of brand experience. "Video has yielded our highest engagement rates with members."

The San Antonio Board of REALTORS®' most popular and successful consumer outreach has been paid segments on local morning television talk shows. "In these segments, our spokespeople, who are current association volunteer leaders, discuss buying and selling tips while emphasizing why a REALTOR® is a necessity in each step. These segments allow us to go in-depth on the REALTOR® value, but they appear as interviews rather than sponsored content, which lends increased credibility," says Suzanne Westrum, vice president of communications and marketing.

The Northeast Association of REALTORS® in Westford, Mass., holds an annual food drive to benefit a local food bank. Members work with local grocery stores and the food bank to coordinate a day to staff donation tables outside the stores and collect thousands of pounds of food.

Dozens of local associations take part in the Pennsylvania Association of REALTORS®' annual REALTORS® Reach Out month by sponsoring events ranging from food drives to neighborhood cleanups.

Michigan's Greater Lansing Association of REALTORS® created an Adopt-A-Park program as part of its placemaking initiative. Every year the association adopts a neighborhood park where REALTOR® and affiliate volunteers gather to paint, refurbish, plant, and create a community destination. 

The Santa Cruz County Association of REALTORS®, Calif., partnered with the Soquel Unified School District to produce an 18-month calendar called "Protecting the American Dream," which promotes the use of REALTORS®.

A woman standing in front of a house, smiling.

The Emerald Coast Association of REALTORS®, Fla., along with other area organizations, has for many years sponsored a day of fishing for 65 wounded warriors as part of the annual Soldiers on the Water, an event designed to be a token of gratitude for their service and sacrifice.

Although many associations are mainly focused on promoting the value of using a REALTOR®, it's critical to set aside resources to promote the value of your association. After all, members who understand the value of membership create stronger associations.

"I drop in to members' offices when I'm in the neighborhood, just to make sure I'm staying in touch with what agents deal with on a day-to-day basis. Our association bought a van recently and wrapped it with our logo, so we're more visible in the community." 
— Laura Crowther, RCE, CEO, Coastal Carolinas Association of REALTORS®. 

The Fort Collins Board of REALTORS®, Colo., established its Future of Housing Community Foundation as a 501(c)(3) organization to formalize the association's commitment to community outreach, boost its public profile as a contributor to the community, and enable the association to leverage additional dollars from the state.

Fourteen homes in an urban Kansas City neighborhood were revitalized by 300 REALTORS® during the 2016 Rock the Block, an event sponsored by the Kansas City Regional Association of REALTORS® and Habitat for Humanity to improve quality of life and home values.  

The Coastal Association of REALTORS®, Md., prepares year-end market reports for local municipalities and counties as a complimentary service for elected officials. These reports contain statistics on sales, prices, days on market, and more. Association staff also give presentations on these reports at local government meetings. 

Associations of any size looking to boost their consumer outreach initiatives can modify any of the Consumer Outreach Strategic Plan Templates and follow the great ideas of other REALTOR® associations uploaded into the Consumer Outreach Best Practices database. Both are available at nar.realtor. 

When associations promote the NAR consumer awareness campaign That's Who We R materials in their local market and association communications, members see the association doing something for them and their business. Download at ThatsWhoWeR.realtor.

Joining forces with colleagues from the local chapter of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers and the National Association of Gay & Lesbian Real Estate Professionals, Columbus REALTORS® hosted a Cost of Poverty Experience and dramatized a mock trial to highlight issues addressed by the Fair Housing Act that are still at play in their communities.

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