Established nearly 110 years ago, the National Association of Realtors (NAR) enjoys an established thought leadership position within its industry. While it has a solid communications strategy in place, the team must constantly re-evaluate its approach and keep up with the latest trends and best practices to stay ahead of competitors and continuously grow its audience.
“We have very useful and engaging content, but we want it to reach more people. We realized we needed to organize and present that information in a more digestible fashion,” affirms Sara Wiskerchen, MD, media communications, National Association of Realtors.
The organization is one of America’s largest trade associations, representing 1.2 million members, which include institutes, societies, and councils involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. As a leading source of real estate-related content, NAR looks to meet the needs of its audience in four ways: Consumer-focused information, such as friendly tips and advice aimed to inform the general public about home buying, selling, and investing in real estate; data-driven content, including statistics, research reports, and surveys; legislative and regulatory efforts, advocacy, and pro-real estate content; and corporate communications, such as personnel announcements and member benefits, as well as general corporate news
With the need for optimized content being an ongoing challenge, a consultation session with a team of experts at PR Newswire (a Cision company) provided NAR with an overview of recent media trends and how content can be optimized to better meet the needs of today’s media.
It is imperative for us to understand today’s state of the media so that we can better optimize our content and make sure we meet the needs of our audience
Sara Wiskerchen, National Association of Realtors
“We send about 125 press releases annually via PR Newswire’s distribution network,” explains Wiskerchen. “We see good results but know that they can always be improved. Given the high volume of releases we send, ROI is important. It is imperative for us to understand today’s state of the media so that we can better optimize our content and make sure we meet the needs of our audience.”
The consultation uncovered five areas of improvement and offered actionable advice.
1. Headline optimization
NAR press releases cover a range of information from the latest homes sales data to trends in real estate overall. To supercharge visibility on these hot topics, the PR Newswire team encouraged recrafting headlines to be clear and specific, share the news hook or impact immediately, include meaningful, descriptive keywords important to their industry and goals. As well as this, headlines should include number data, when applicable, provide critical information in the first 55-70 characters to keep them tweetable and for increased search value, and utilize subhead space to provide more context.
“One of our key takeaways was to take a closer look at our releases’ headline,” says Wiskerchen. “They weren’t as concise or as compelling as they could be. The PR Newswire team gave us some great tips that we were able to apply right away to our next releases.”
2. Increase in visual assets
In the past, NAR included their logo and a headshot of quoted experts. PR Newswire advised NAR to shift its strategy to integrate more infographics, charts, and visuals that complement the story – helping readers to digest the main news points quickly while also encouraging sharing.
3. Data/survey release makeover
NAR’s pending and existing homes data helps offer a glimpse into the state of the nation’s economy. In converting this information to a press release, the company must convey a great deal of research and statistics. To make this important content more digestible for its audiences, the PR Newswire team suggested NAR implement several formatting best practices.
“Our most popular releases are our data and survey releases and they have a tendency to be very data-heavy,” acknowledges Wiskerchen. “With guidance from the PR Newswire team, we’ve incorporated more bulleted lists and section headers to diversify the look of our release, and help showcase the content, and will be incorporating subheads and click-to-tweets in the future as well.”
4. Release timing
News timing is important. NAR has a 10 a.m. (ET) embargo for its existing home sales and price data. Journalists have come to expect the news at that time. However, this isn’t the only story realtors have to tell, and optimal timing for release pickup varies based on type of news.
We have very useful and engaging content, but we want it to reach more people. We realized we needed to organize and present that information in a more digestible fashion
“For our more consumer-focused content, the PR Newswire team recommended sending it later in the morning or early afternoon, after people have gone through the work of the morning. We have seen an uptake in inquiries since making this change,” says Wiskerchen.
5. Monthly content spotlight
As NAR sends out content quite frequently, one last tip is to send out a release at the end of each month highlighting top content from its consumer facing website, HouseLogic.com. Its audience can find all pertinent information in one place and redirect traffic to past, existing content to give it repeat exposure.
Since implementing the changes suggested by the PR Newswire team, NAR has seen an increase in online visibility, and in media inquiries.
“The infographics have really helped our audience to better understand and share our news with their network. We’ve seen earned media pickup with infographics appearing directly in their stories,” says Wiskerchen. “That’s been a real win for us to see renowned publications use our infographics in their coverage. Additionally, after implementing changes to our headlines, Forbes ran an article with the exact same headline, which was a real win for us as well. It showcases we are delivering content in a very desirable format for media.”
NAR is committed to continuous improvement of its content strategy by following best practices and adding even more visual assets to press releases. “Since our consultation with the PR Newswire team, we’ve hired a motion graphic team that is working on producing videos for our content,” notes Wiskerchen. “We’re looking to release our first video this summer with the goal of creating a video each month.”