Honing and Leveraging Your Public Image
Build your personal brand, control your online image and connect with local media to ensure you are recognized as an authority in your market.
NEW YORK -- The real estate industry is in a state of flux, and it’s likely that won’t change anytime soon. Though interest rates have subsided some, an inventory shortage and high prices still make for a competitive market.
As a result, brokers need to do everything they can to create a competitive advantage, and one of the most effective ways to do that is through public image and influence. When used properly, becoming a recognized authority in your market can create exposure and trust in ways that other marketing channels can’t.
The below DIY approach is one that you and your agents can execute in-house, but it’s worth mentioning that the option to work with a coach or hire a publicist is always available.
Build a personal brand
People want to know who you are before they work with you. A strong personal brand showcases your competence, knowledge and expertise—and that inspires trust and helps build your status as an authority figure in the industry. Where applicable, it also plays a role in whether a journalist will feature you or not.
You want your brand to be representative of your principles. The first step is to home in on your personal core values, which should then drive the values of your brokerage. You want to distill what you know about yourself into an effective personal brand that inspires trust. Start with some questions to help clarify things:
What drives you?
What do you stand for?
Who do you serve?
What’s your backstory?
These factors create the foundation for your brand. Once you’ve answered these questions, you’ll need to identify what I call your 5 Pillars. These pillars will act as the backbone of your content creation. They should be topics that are important to you and relevant to your audience. For example, my 5 Pillars are:
- Public relations
- Overcoming adversity
- Veterans’ issues
- Personal freedom
Anything you share, whether on social media, in articles, on stage or anywhere else, should fall under one of the five categories. This demonstrates who you are and what you stand for, and it gives your audience insight into your competence, knowledge and expertise on the topics.
Take control of your online image
Your first step is to search Google and Bing for your name, each of your agents’ names, and your brokerage’s name. Note what shows up on the first three pages of each search engine.
What you’re looking for is anything that might make a prospective client doubt whether they should work with you. Obviously, anything overtly negative falls under this category, but so does a lack of an online presence.
At a minimum, you’ll want to ensure your brokerage and your personal website and social media profiles show up first. You’ll also want to make sure you have an active and complete Google Business Profile. Next, you’ll want to ensure your agents’ websites and social media profiles show up first when you search for their names. Ideally, you should also build a personal brand website, with your personal name as the domain, which will secure another position in the search results; this site can also be used to help cross promote your brokerage site. For NAR members, the .realtor domain enables you to secure a uniquely branded website tailored with your name that includes the well-known REALTOR® brand.
Secure media features
It’s tempting to focus on the biggest and most authoritative publications, but trade publications and local news outlets are important as well.
Start by building a list of the journalists who cover real estate and topics related to it. This is critical because you need to ensure that you’re only pitching journalists who will see your pitch as relevant to their specific audience. You can find them on each media outlet’s website and on social media. On a publication’s website, simply search for and read articles that are on the topics you’ve identified and look for the author’s byline and bio. These sometimes include contact information.
Finding them on social media is almost as simple. All you need to do is open the LinkedIn company page for a media outlet and click the “People” tab; then you’ll see every employee that has that outlet listed as their employer.
Now you’ll begin pitching your story to the media. The key is to open with a powerful hook that grabs the recipient’s emotions, and then support your pitch with additional information. You’ll also need to distill your pitch into the most concise and potent message possible, breaking it up in an easy to scan and digest format.
Leverage publicity in your marketing
Most people are over the moon with excitement when they get their first media feature, and eagerly share it all over social media, but then they don’t do anything else with it.
You want to make the best use of the publicity you receive, so you need to create a library of content from each piece of publicity. You can extract snippets and quotes from articles and TV segments to use in marketing content. You can also come up with the points you wished you had an opportunity to say but didn’t have a chance to. Add all of these to a document for now, and then create a few templates for quote graphics, which you’ll insert these statements into. Always lead back to the original article or segment when links are available.
As a broker, you’ll want to share this content through all of your marketing channels. You’ll also want to encourage your agents to share this content. Let them know how publicity for the brokerage and for you helps boost their credibility in the eyes of their audience as well. Since the content is already created and available, it also takes some of the onus off of them. They can plug the content into their channels rather than having to worry about creating it themselves.
Take things a step further and make it part of your brokerage’s culture to have and maintain a strong, reputable public image. Teach your agents what it takes to do so and walk them through the steps. Teaching your agents the importance of a public image and how to cultivate one is great for your brokerage and for agent retention.
The bottom line: If you ensure a robust public image and then leverage it in your marketing, you’ll stand out from your competitors in ways you probably have never imagined. It will transform you and your agents into recognized authorities in your market, helping to attract new listings, and it can even help to attract new agents and retain existing ones.
© 2024 National Association of Realtors® (NAR