Start Spreading the News: Let Press Releases Tell the Story of Your Community
Over the years at Pace, we’ve used just about every imaginable tool in the never-ending quest to get results and drive traffic for our many builder clients. One of the most consistently successful tactics has been to develop a robust press release campaign for a new-home community. When the New Jersey Builders Association (NJBA) invited us to submit an article for its Fall 2017 Dimensions newsletter, we drafted our resident PR King, Randy Kershner, to share some thoughts on this subject. You can read the article online or download it here. We’re also sharing the content here on our blog – and we welcome your comments and additional tips on how you have used press releases as part of a marketing campaign.
Press releases are often an underused and undervalued tool in a homebuilder’s marketing kit. But with the right strategy and a commitment to a campaign of consistently distributed releases, builders can reap valuable exposure and traffic for their communities. Press releases are a great way to tell the story of your community. But it’s not always easy coming up with topics for an ongoing campaign. So we thought we’d share specific topic suggestions – think of these as potential chapters in the story of your community – along with key insights about using press releases.
Press Releases as Part of a Content Strategy
Today, it’s all about “content marketing.” There are so many ways and different places to share created content – and press releases are just one piece of the puzzle. Telling the story of your community should include a content strategy that includes social media, blogging, sponsored content, and other avenues. But there’s still a strong role for the traditional press release: that news-oriented, informative article that’s distributed to a variety of media outlets and contacts. In addition to disseminating news about your project, press releases provide a well of information you can draw from to use in other content marketing efforts. We repurpose every press release we write, to create additional tools for our clients: paid content; blog posts; social media updates, etc.
Keep Telling the Story!
It’s important to be consistent and frequent in distributing your press releases. If you send out one release every few months, it’s probably going to get overlooked, trashed, filed away, or forgotten. You never want to badger a media outlet or contact by sending too many press releases. But one a month, maybe even two a month, is not a bad schedule. Your name (as a builder/developer and the name of the project itself) will regularly be before the eyes of media outlets, including editors and writers. Maybe they won’t have interest the first, second, or third time they get one of your releases. But they will come to recognize the name. They will be aware that something always seems to be happening at that community; that there is constant activity going on; and eventually, they may run your story, use your release as impetus to develop their own story about your project, or choose to include you in one of their features.
Back to the idea of “what to write about.” The story topics we’re suggesting here are appropriate for traditional press releases, as well as other forms of content marketing. These are essentially the “chapters” of your community’s story. Every chapter may not “fit” or be appropriate for every community, but generally these topics have stood the test of time for new-home projects. They typically prove to be “newsworthy” – or content-worthy – topics to write about. At the very least, they are a good guide for developing your own campaign. You can always add to this list with customized chapters and information specific to your community.
- Initial Announcement: Community Introduction
- VIP List Now Forming
- Now Open for Sales
- Community Ground Breaking
- Grand Opening
- Muddy Shoe or Hard-Hat (Under Construction) Tours
- Information or Sales Center Now Open
- Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony (typically with mayor and/or town officials)
- Home Designs and Pricing Now Available
- Community Features: Latest Home Design Trends
- Lifestyle (focus on community amenities)
- Location (focus on area amenities)
- Model Home Sneak Preview
- Grand Opening (Model Home)
- Model Home Grand Opening Success
- Clubhouse Grand Opening (if applicable)
- Clubhouse Opening Success (if applicable)
- Homesite Section Release
- Introduction of New Phase
- Testimonials (first homebuyers)
- Community Events (could be multiple stories over time) including special incentives, seasonal promos, Meet the Builder-type events
- XX% Sold Out (success story)
- Final Phase / Final Opportunities
- Grand Close Out
Whew – thats’s a lot! All of these could make valuable, credible, and newsworthy topics for your community – so consider which ones you might be able to use.
…and One Final Thing…
One final note about testimonial stories: they are extremely powerful; especially for an active-adult community. Testimonials take more time and effort to develop, but they have proven extremely valuable, in our experience. Potential buyers can relate to these stories, identifying with the homeowners who are featured, and consequently envisioning themselves living there, too. We have heard story after story from different builders over the years who told us that whenever testimonial stories have run, sales representatives at the community have noticed an increase in traffic. Visitors and new prospects not only mention that they read the story, they sometimes even visit with a copy of the story in hand. Now that’s a successful press release – and great news for a builder!
Randy Kershner joined Pace in 2006 and today serves as PR Director and Associate Creative Director, responsible for overall messaging for the agency and many of its key clients. He’s fascinated with words and slightly obsessed with pop culture.