When the going gets tough, the tough get going. Public Relations agencies and consultants who were able to provide brand recognition and value to their existing clients in this unprecedented time have rightly stood by this thought. PR has always been known to alleviate the sales and marketing of products and services. However, when the entire world went on a snooze mode with the lockdown, the slow-moving inventory clients like Real Estate were left with limited choices for staying relevant in the media.
Real estate firms are propelled by trust, and PR professionals working with developers, advisories, or regulatory bodies have to be on their toes for devising a strategy as per the existing competition and market scenario. It made no sense to propagate sales or talk about expansion plans during the lockdown. The sentiment was grim as a significant chunk of the population was facing the brunt of lay-offs and salary cuts. In such sensitive situations, PR storytellers who were able to offer innovative sustaining plans helped their clients sail through.
Now, if we look back at the pre-lockdown times PR professionals and real estate stalwarts had numerous tools at their disposal for promotion. Outbound activities like press conferences, project launches, felicitations, media interactions, project visits being some of them. The majority of clients focussed on procuring a good positioning in traditional media and kept the share for new media at low. Little did they knew, that lockdown will come as a game-changer and would affect the dynamics of every business around.
People were confined in their homes, events were put on a halt, media houses and publications slashed their circulation to overcome the brunt of Corona lockdown. Subsequently, digital publications and portals gained more significance, and PR professionals were quick to adapt to the changed course of action. Building a story that stood out amid the ongoing global crisis was definitely a unique challenge.
The PR professionals with innovative ideas and strong media relations were able to get their real estate clients a news peg that not only portrayed them as thought leaders but also reinstated their legacy in the business. The lockdown period has definitely been a nightmare, where several businesses were completely shutdown. The PR agencies that were able to stride past through it had definitely established themselves as stronger than ever in the market, which has helped them in garnering new clients post lockdown. A positive word of mouth and successful case study from reputed clients has more power than a creative business pitch.
Real estate is a slow-moving inventory that cannot project their spokesperson as someone who is ignorant or mute to the fact of market dipping low. Times were tough, but developers who understood the importance of media presence in such crisis situations stuck with the agencies and PR consultants to create a plan that presented them not only as industry experts but leaders who hold potential to take care of their stakeholders even in unprecedented times like these. This helped them in creating a strong and stable positioning for the larger audience.
One of the most prominent tools in building media presence was Webinar. The changing paradigm of events was embraced by all industries completely and modified as per their products and services offered. Webinars conducted helped in customer relationship management, took care of the stakeholder interest, and furnished the brand recall & recognition in the most subtle way possible.
PR agencies who have tackled the lockdown phase with their industry and media expertise, are already thinking far ahead and planning for the market recovery of their clients. In the post-lockdown phase, having a media presence has gained all the more important because the homebuyers and investors are keen on understanding the developer’s vision.
Developers who have customized their projects and payment plans as per the changing market sentiment need the support of responsible PR professionals to position them as rational and futuristic leaders. It can be achieved only through a well-planned narrative being featured in leading publications, and platforms. Webinars are still very popular and will continue to be so till social distancing remains the only prevention from the contagion. Participation in stories around relief measures for the real estate sector and recovery support offered by the government also remains vital.
Conclusively, tracing the course of public relations with respect to the lockdown phase shows us that having an experienced, content-driven PR support with your brand is very essential, whatever may be the size of your business. It is not just a tool that will help you drive sales but will also make sure that your business legacy remains untainted and profound in all circumstances.
Authored by Dushyant Sinha, Founder Director, ICCPL.