The BR Digital team asked me to write a blog to help us celebrate our seven years in business and I must admit, I was a little unsure as to what I might say that anyone would find interesting. I am so busy in my day to day, thinking about new ideas for our property clients, that the prospect of coming up with something profound myself, left me a little daunted.
So, I thought about it for a while; what advice would I give my own clients? What have we achieved in the past seven years, and what has changed in this time both in the PR industry and the world of property in which we work?
I think the one thing that stood out to me the most – the biggest change that we have seen – is the way in which we consume media. And not just the way in which we read about things but the enormous speed in which news can now be delivered. Literally you can share your news to an audience of millions of people with the click of a button, so you can probably imagine – the days of stuffing press releases into envelopes with a big embargo label at the top are long gone.
Social media certainly existed seven years ago but it’s fair to say that it wasn’t half the beast that it is today. LinkedIn has since quadrupled in numbers, Facebook now has nearly 1.5 billion active users every day (not quite the dinosaur that some reports suggest!). A baby by comparison, Tik Tok hadn’t even been born in 2015 – and now has over 800 million users. Each outlet has its own audience, and each has its own purpose.
So what’s my point? Property PR is ever evolving and changes continually. PR is no longer a press release churning machine pumping out corporate news with a big embargo header. PR and most importantly communications is a deep and varied world of sharing stories, visualising concepts, talking, influencing and most importantly in order to do so successfully – is being one step ahead of everyone else who is trying to do the same thing. PR is no longer a one way comms tool – readers are invited (and even encouraged) to comment, reply and share the words of the web. And there is an army of keyboard warriors out there ready to oblige.
Getting your messaging right has never been so important. It’s harder to retract something that has been out there and shared by so many people – your digital footprint sticks with you. And in the ‘cancel culture’ climate in which we live, brands need to ensure they strike a balance between remaining relevant without damaging their reputation. While it can be tempting to jump onto the latest TikTok trend, does it really add value to your property business to see your team dancing to Rod Stewart (yes this is a real trend)? While the answer may be yes for some, if only to show the human side of the business, if there are wider industry issues ongoing perhaps think twice before posting. As we know, timing is everything.
The digital world is a minefield on an easy day, but the power it wields for property companies is undeniable and could be the difference between your brand taking off or sinking before it’s even begun. I won’t dwell too much on the pandemic, but a shift in consumer patterns over the past two years has caused the digital world to propel forward at a rapid pace. Consumers expect brands to be online and present everywhere at the tap of a finger or click of a button – and it’s no different in the property sector. Whether it’s having a nose at the latest house tours or looking at company reviews, if it’s not accessible quickly, consumers will lose interest and look to a company that can provide a digital offering.
And for one final thought given that we are discussing the number seven; it turns out that recent research suggests that (on average) we will all spend a total of seven years of our life on social media. Whether this idea doesn’t surprise you, or fills you with dread – it’s important to make your messages count.