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A Beginner’s Guide to PR in the Built Environment

The number of public relations professionals operating in the UK has almost doubled in the last 12 years, with more than 70,000 people now working in this specialist area of communications. 

Even in challenging economic climates, the need for PR continues to rise, especially as the way we consume brand messages changes. PR is a business service that’s no longer perceived as a luxury but as a necessity for success. 

With this, it’s no surprise to see the built environment investing heavily in this skill set. But, with PR now encompassing so much more than traditional media relations, it’s difficult to assess where to start. 

At REMM, we’ve got decades of experience working with property professionals to build their PR functions and it ultimately comes down to the two fundamentals; understanding the benefits of PR and the varying ways it can be delivered.

The benefits of property PR

PR is an essential business tactic that benefits all companies, but for those operating in the built environment, it’s imperative to build trust and reputation. The sector is an extremely pressured and competitive environment, where successes are determined by relationships and respectability, and implementing an effective PR strategy can help a company to improve in both of these areas.

Perhaps the most obvious function of property PR, but an imperative one nonetheless, is that it helps to maximise exposure for developments. It can communicate project intentions, updates and results at every stage of the process, from the planning stages right through to completion, to key audiences.

A strong and busy press office will also position property firms among leaders in the industry, alongside peers and competitors. For example, the built environment has a strong and active trade press, widely read by stakeholders, contractors, and the supply chain. Businesses that engage with these publications are much more likely to be front of mind for their vast audiences.

The property and construction sectors are also, by nature, high-risk and all companies operating in this space – whether you are a developer, architect, contractor, manufacturer or supplier – could be drawn into incidents that have potentially negative ramifications. Having a PR function will ensure a crisis communications plan is in place, should it be required, with skilled professionals ready to take control of the media agenda to influence positive conversations.

Varying PR tactics

Like every other industry, the communications sector is ever-changing but traditional methods of PR are still going strong, particularly within the built environment. Therefore, covering the fundamental aspects of media relations and press office activity is key.

For example, press releases should still be used to announce project updates or company news, but communicating with key audiences is now about so much more. PR is no longer centred on promoting work and services but focuses on engaging in thought-provoking conversations across the industry.

From our experience, it is companies that invest in thought leadership and encourage their key spokespeople to engage in topical issues that prove to be the most successful. The current climate demands businesses work more cautiously and considerately than ever before and thought leadership is a great way to share key messages through industry conversations. 

For example, driving forward narratives on topical issues, such as ESG, regeneration and placemaking, are successful PR strategies that build a company’s reputation and encourage flourishing relationships with like-minded clients and companies. 

Prioritising PR and communications

We are learning that ‘purpose’ is critical to a brand’s financial success and long-term relevance in the built environment. And the most successful companies that engage with their clients, peers and the supply chain in a meaningful way are those that understand the value of PR.

Without question, great PR comes with an abundance of benefits. It raises profiles in key areas and can position a brand as an ambitious and forward-thinking marketing leader, committed to long-term and profitable success across the industry. Moreover, it can positively influence stakeholders including landowners, investors, planners, local government, sub-contractors and customers.

After all, people will not be aware of the values that set you apart in the competitive property sector if you aren’t communicating them effectively with key audiences. 

If you’re looking for more information on how to elevate your business communications with PR support, get in touch with us at info@realestatemarketingmedia.co.uk