That’s a wrap.. PHM’s 2019 year in review

2019 has been a year of rolling with the punches; Brexit stops, starts and delays have dominated social gatherings, the political landscape and not least, the property market.

However, even against this backdrop, we’ve worked on some fantastic campaigns this year and welcomed a number of new clients into the fold. Whatever the background noise, we believe in the power of PR and in great story-telling.

Festive connections

This time of year conjures up images of carol singers, Christingle services and nativity plays so it’s seasonally apt that we’re currently working with Guildford Cathedral and its delivery partner VIVID to encourage the community to get involved in shaping designs for potential new homes near the Cathedral ahead of the submission of a planning application in Spring 2020.

If you live locally but have still never visited this iconic landmark, do pop in; its fabulous white marble interior is an amazing contrast to its red brick architecture. Christmas Fact: Consecrated by The Queen on 17th May 1961, did you know it’s the newest cathedral in the country that’s been built on a new site; Liverpool’s and Coventry’s Cathedrals are built on the sites of existing churches.

 New Year, New Clients

We’re also very excited to be working with a number of new clients as we move into a new year. As well as our work with Berkeley in West London and for St Edward in Hampshire, we’re now providing PR support on three new sites with Berkeley’s North East London division: 250 City Road is a luxury collection of apartments close to Silicon Roundabout, Woodberry Down is an exciting, regenerated urban oasis in north London and Trent Park in Enfield provides an exciting range of new and converted homes set amongst 416 acres of parkland.

Moving into 2020, we’re really looking forward to providing a fresh PR perspective for Abbey Homes; from community events to sales support, we’ll be bringing some new, creative ideas to their marketing plans. We’ll also be welcoming another new client, Fusion, a boutique house designer who is creating fabulous new homes around London.

One sector of our portfolio where we’re seeing much growth is our work with a number of local authorities. A number of London borough councils are getting creative in their generation of income; self-delivering homes for sale to fund new affordable and social housing in their areas. Our first client in this area was Broadway Living, Ealing Council’s development arm. This year, we’ve also started working with councils in Westminster and Bexley to guide their communications programmes and execute PR strategies.

And the award goes to…

Congratulations to all of our award-winning clients this year. Industry awards continue to be a significant part of our yearly calendar; we prepared a whopping 79 entries in 2019 and 1 in 3 of them have won a coveted prize in their respective competitions. We look forward to working on even more award-winning schemes and corporate initiatives across the property sector in 2020.

It’s time for 2020 vision

We’re looking to next year with 2020 vision. We build expert-led comms strategies and specialise in traditional and social media, community engagement, reputation management, events, award entries (including design) and all forms of copywriting. Our work and the advice we provide is underpinned by years of experience, but we don’t believe in always doing what has always been done; we think and work creatively – looking above and beyond the obvious to catch the attention of your audience.

 

If you think you can benefit from a fresh look and a keen, clear eye on your communications, get in touch on 01483 561119.

 

We’re heading into the New Year with 2020 vision

It’s no secret that the PR landscape is ever-changing; in a digital, time-poor age, people are always looking for a faster and more engaging way of communicating with each other and experiencing content. And while no one knows for sure what the New Year has in store, we’ll be starting a fresh decade with 2020 vision.

Here at PHM, we’re very good at rolling with the punches. However, we’ll always have a crystal-clear outlook of what we want to achieve.

Here’s just three of our ‘PResolutions’ for 2020:

 

  1. Be brave(r)

Risk mitigation is part and parcel of our approach to PR, but that’s not to say it doesn’t pay off to do something left-field every now and then. It’s a saturated world out there – journalists’ inboxes are overflowing and online feeds are never-ending – so it’s never been more important to cut through the noise with original, brave ideas.

 

  1. Collaborate

A good PR machine is a well-oiled one; communicate often and communicate well. Brilliant ideas are like gold dust and they so often happen when you are engaging with and bouncing ideas off other people, whether it’s your colleagues or your clients. Collaboration is key to reaching maximum potential – from campaigns to stunts – and carving out time to enable this is essential; getting your head down and things done quickly is sometimes necessary, but investing some time will usually pay off.

 

  1. Aim high

Overall, it’s been a great year for PHM; alongside a range of stand-out digital campaigns, a plethora of media coverage and some brilliantly executed events, we’ve also submitted 76 awards on behalf of clients and one in three went on to win one of the coveted prizes. In addition, we welcomed four new PR clients on board in the last six months. But we won’t stop there; setting clear goals within a time frame and measuring success holds you accountable and drives success.

 

If you’d like a fresh take on your PR strategy in 2020, speak to a member of the PHM team on 01483 561119.

Where PR leads, the industry follows?

By Lisa Flounders, Director

 

Among the many diverse discussion points at this week’s Homes UK conference, there was an unmistakeable theme running through the sessions that PHM attended and it is one we’ve seen a number of our clients embrace over the past year or so. Building homes is not about, well, building homes. Instead, it is about building sustainable communities. It is people, not product.

 

As this focus continues to gain momentum among developers, we’re again reminded of the power of a great narrative and the role of communications in recognising – and staying ahead of – industry trends. The property media has looked for people-led stories for a long time and a humble press release announcing the launch of a showhome or highlighting an impressive specification is no longer enough on its own. High quality product, one speaker at Homes UK noted, shouldn’t be a selling point. Surely, in 2019, it should be a given.

 

At PHM, we have been working with our clients for some time to go above and beyond a milestone-led approach to media relations. Buyers want to understand how a new home will make them feel, not just where it is or how many bathrooms it has. A great story – people not product, remember – can do exactly that.

Three frightening PR superstitions

By Katherine Gallacher, Senior Account Executive

Witches, ghosts and vampires are enough to scare the living daylights out of you this Halloween. What shouldn’t scare you this autumn however, is PR.

For those of you considering a career in the industry, or if you’re wondering how PR might help your business meet its marketing objectives, we’ve taken a look at three of the most frightening PR superstitions and debunked the myths.

  1. It’s all prosecco and parties, darling!

There is a common myth that PR is an extremely glamorous career full of star-studded glitzy parties and glasses of fizz. Of course, there are fun events to attend (our awards success means we get to attend plenty of industry ceremonies with our clients) and we get to organise events too, but our day to day activities have plenty of variety which keeps them interesting and us motivated.

Site visits, media liaison, relationship building, public consultations, award entries, creating social media content, brainstorming ideas; this is just a taster of the things we get up to.

  1. The only requirement is that you have to be a ‘people person’

Although it really does help to be friendly and approachable, this is just a part of it. A PR professional has to be an exceptional communicator and a keen storyteller across many channels, whether face to face or in writing. In an agency, you also need to be efficient, creative and great at seeing the bigger picture.

  1. PR and marketing do the same thing!

As social media becomes ever prevalent, the lines appear to be blurring. However, PR and traditional marketing do differ. PR focuses on the reputation that you earn, such as third-party testimonials and journalist coverage, while marketing focuses more on the channels you own. Both seek to drive sales or share key messages and if you take a collaborative approach, work very well together.

To bust more scary PR superstitions, get in touch with the PHM team.

Dust off the cobwebs: Keep your social media in shape this summer

Here at PHM, we like our content to shine bright on the never-ending feeds of social media and with the summer months finally here, what better time to help you dust off the cobwebs and bring you three essential top tips to keep your social in ship shape:

  1.   Cut waffle in long posts: your audience don’t have all day!

Many people using social media are simply scrolling; recent stats are claiming that the average person scrolls through 300 feet (90m) of social media content daily! With so much to consume, your audience doesn’t want to be reading long paragraphs with no substance. One way to keep people engaged in your posts is to stick to the point and cut the waffle. It’s important to keep content concise without compromising on quality.

  1. Know your audience and stay up to date with them

We know the majority of a beauty blogger’s audience will have no interest in bird watching, so why should your audience maintain engagement with seemingly random and unrelated content? Tailor your posts to trending topics to keep your following engaged and up-to-date without jeopardising your message. Does it suit their interests? Are they the right demographic? Is it the type of content the target audience would choose to spend their time consuming?

  1. Add pictures and graphics

Pictures are processed 60,000 times faster by the human brain than words, so it’s important to keep your feed filled with photos. However, it’s often difficult to keep creating new visual content from scratch. Here at PHM we use sites such as Unsplash and Canva. Unsplash allows you to browse and download high quality images for free, avoiding unwanted repetition. Canva is a site used to create visually interesting content for social media. The website offers templates and graphics which you can utilise to personalise and refashion your posts in order to keep things fresh.

If you’d like to find out more about how PHM can help with your social media strategy, contact the team on 01483 561119.

Work experience at PHM

By Hermione Hampton

After finishing my GCSEs, I was lucky enough to do a week of work experience at PHM to get an insight into working life and have the opportunity to dip my toe into the world of PR. I decided to do work experience in PR as I knew it would be useful ahead of starting to study English A-Level and I have since found out it has been incredibly advantageous for an interest in a writing career. Overall, I have come to know the importance of PR.

What I’ve been doing:

During my time at the office, I was tasked with several jobs which included reading and cross-referencing press coverage to familiarise myself with the property industry. I was also given the responsibility of planning social media coverage for PHM, which allowed me to see the level of work that goes into PR and how the business generally operates. Amongst my other tasks, I also got to research local areas for new and upcoming developments across a range of clients, as well write a press release.

What I’ve enjoyed:

I found that researching was my most interesting job, as I got to learn many fascinating facts about places which I was not familiar with as well get to know the factors that come into play when developing a property. I also enjoyed reading press coverage, as I could see the variety of properties and developments with which PHM is involved. I also really liked the few writing jobs I got to do, especially writing a press release, as I found them engaging and good practice for the future, especially as I am looking to enter a career in writing.

What I’ve learnt:

My week at PHM has been greatly beneficial in many ways. Not only have I now got a better understanding of the property and PR world but my research tasks have helped me develop vital research skills, which will prove themselves useful for further education. The few writing tasks have also been good experience to help prepare me for studying A-Level English in September. In addition, my experience has given me a sense of what working life will be like after leaving school.

Three social media tools we’re coupling up with this summer

By Louise Jarvis, Account Manager

It is official; Love Island has returned. Cue eight weeks of recoupling and viral memes.

Here at PHM, we like to pay attention to every trend, so we’ve been embracing this summer’s hot topic and thinking about how important it is to inject a little love into your digital PR campaigns.

That’s why we’re bringing you details of three social media tools you should be coupling up with this summer…

  1. Management platform

For agencies like us, juggling multiple clients’ many social media channels (not to mention fostering media relationships, strategising, copywriting, event organisation and more) a social media management platform is essential.

This type of tool is really useful for optimising posts for engagement, reporting and scheduling, and doing so consistently and efficiently. But don’t fall for the first platform you meet. Do your research and see whether you’re able to trial a few before committing (speed dating at its finest).

  1. Canva

If you’re not already using Canva, it’s a great free graphic tool with which you should definitely be getting acquainted. The website is home to thousands of social media templates and layouts suited to every kind of platform, which you can personalise and edit to suit your brand.

It’s user-friendly, it’s a great way to mix up message presentation and it has become one of our most-used tools for creating quick and engaging content for social media where visually led-content is the top property.

  1. Unsplash

Where visuals are king and feeds are saturated, it’s important to switch up your imagery on socials – after all, first impressions count.

As photography and stock imagery can be expensive, sites such as Unsplash are an easy way to browse and download high-quality photos for free, implementing fresh and exciting content to avoid too much repetition in your use of imagery.

If you’d like to talk to PHM about how we can bring your social media channels alive – and take on the time commitments you can’t fit into your calendar –  call us on 01483 561119 or email info@housegroup.co.uk.

Life at PHM as a Senior Account Executive…

By Katherine Gallacher, Senior Account Executive

Moving into my fourth month at PHM I now feel I can begin to reflect on life so far as a senior account executive (SAE).

As an SAE working in property PR, you get pulled in lots of different directions – no day is the same and it’s what I love about my job. One day I can be writing press releases and case studies; the next I might be conducting phone interviews or visiting new developments with existing or potential clients.

Three words to describe your time so far: Fun, fast-paced, fabulous!

Most interesting part of your job: Aside from writing press releases and pitching stories to national publications, it’s exciting to meet and often collaborate with the wider advertising, creative and media teams I work alongside.

Most enjoyable aspect of your job: I have to say site visits and seeing the variety of show homes our clients deliver. Whether a one-bedroom apartment in a city centre or a five-bedroom family house in the home counties, the different styles, designs and specifications I come across make me very excited to buy my own home.

What gives you the most satisfaction? Securing coverage for our clients in top-tier titles… Seeing that all those hours spent researching publications, getting to know journalists and preparing press releases have paid off – it’s an amazing feeling!

Reflecting on my thoughts that I had prior to starting, I can happily say that my position here at PHM goes above and beyond what I had hoped for to kick-start my agency career.

In the next few months, I look forward to developing my skills not only in traditional PR but bringing creative ideas to our growing digital media services and facing new challenges and experiences every day.

How has PR evolved over the last five decades?

By Katherine Gallacher, Senior Account Executive

2019 marks the 50th anniversary of the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA), so we’ve taken a look at how PR – our favourite topic, matched only by property – has evolved over the last five decades.

In its earliest form, PR was all about the press release. But, with today’s digital transformation, agencies must find new ways to establish communication with organic and direct reach. Gone are the days where newspaper boys yell, “Extra! Extra! Read all about it!” – Now, PR practitioners focus a large majority of their time on content creation.

Having said that, the key components of information, persuasion, and trust-building remain intact, and we believe they will continue to do so.

So, what has had the biggest impact on PR since the launch of PRCA in 1969?

  1. Going Digital: The rise of social media

Sharing news and fostering engagement has never been easier. The rise of digital platforms has shortened the life span of news stories, pushing journalists to turn around stories more quickly and in turn forcing us PRs to keep up.

  1. PR measurement tools

Getting mentioned in the national media a decade ago was great (and being honest it’s still pretty fabulous), but there’s not really a way to track what impact it has on consumers. Fast forward 50 years and coverage on online platforms have made tracking engagement a lot more accessible.

Traditional “ad value equivalency” measurements are being replaced by outcome measurements such as website traffic, leads, reputation, search rankings and social engagement. And while measuring traditional press coverage remains an art rather than a science, these digital platforms enable us to see who has been exposed to your content, how they have engaged with that content and the actions taken as a result.

  1. Complex and changing roles of PR professionals

PR has changed dramatically through the ages and will continue to do so. As the industry continues to evolve, the role of PR professionals will change with it. Those working in PR need to specialise and show expertise in areas that may have previously fallen outside of the traditional remit of PR.

This means that PR is no longer just about working around journalist’s deadlines, but takes into account blogs and influencers’ content that have a huge social reach across various network platforms.

If you’re thinking of revamping your current PR strategy, get in touch with the PHM team on 01483 561119 or email katherine@housegroup.co.uk

Four things to consider before you embrace influencer marketing

By Louise Jarvis, Account Manager

There’s no denying the rise and rise of influencer marketing, most social media feeds have been peppered with third-party advertisements and brand partnerships for a while now.

But are we becoming more cynical? Does an influencer’s credibility plummet once you realise that they’ve been paid to talk about the product or service they seemingly love? And if so, why bother in the first place?

Despite these concerns, if done properly, we think this is an area of digital marketing that can add a lot of value to your strategies, however there are a few things to consider if you want to add influencers to your toolkit:

 

  1. Research, research, research

If you’re serious about incorporating influencers as part of your marketing strategy, you’ll need to invest some time in researching who’s out there. Find out what they have to offer you: what is their content’s reach and what does their audience demographic look like?  Before approaching them, you’ll need to know why you want to work with them; in short, your brands need to be aligned. Does your messaging synchronise with their narrative? If the fit is wrong, it’s likely your campaign will be less effective, so take your time and make sure you’re connecting with the right people.

  1. Micro vs Macro

When people think influencers, they tend to think big – or macro. Look at Kylie Jenner for example, who has a whopping 130 million Instagram followers. But with a following so vast, how can you ensure you’re targeting the right people? Targeting influencers with a large following will also most definitely be expensive and you may not always reap the return you’re after.

Depending on what you’re marketing, it’s very much worth looking into micro influencers; these people tend to have a smaller but niche and trusting following. This makes it easier to assess whether you’re reaching the right people via their channels.

  1. A tailored approach

As with all PR, it’s important to tailor your approach. With however many hundreds of thousands of influencer profiles to choose from and a sea of content to compete with, you’ll need to think of a ‘big idea’. With the digital marketing landscape so regularly changing, you might not get the best results from merely imitating campaigns you’ve seen before. So, brainstorm and take risks. What type of content would your target audience like to see and spend their time consuming? Decide your objectives, pick your angle and run with a creative approach.

  1. Contracts

Once you’ve cemented your relationship as a brand and advertiser with your chosen influencer, it’s important to get it in writing and create some form of influencer contract. It’s key to ensure everyone involved knows what their role is within the partnership or campaign. Here’s just a few things to include:

  • The basics: names and parties involved, the date and a description of what the partnership should achieve
  • Timeframe: How long is your partnership going to last? Is it one campaign or longer term?
  • Output: What exactly do you want from them? Include details, for example, the exact number of social media posts or the length of a blog
  • Veto list: Write down anything you’d like them to refrain from saying and include brand guidelines
  • Payment terms: in what form will payment be made?

 

If you’d like to talk to PHM about a bespoke approach to your PR requirements, call us on 01483 561119 or email info@housegroup.co.uk.