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What is PR and why is it needed in the Built Environment? Our PR specialist, Tom Johnson, explains…

At REMM, we’re committed to delivering the best possible integrated marketing service for our clients. We understand that a full-service approach is the best one for the property sector because it considers all communications needs and how they work together. 

We recently sat down with our PR specialist, Tom Johnson, to discuss the importance of PR in the built environment and how this serves the wider marketing function for businesses. 

Q: Tell us a little bit about PR

A: Public Relations, or PR, is a specialist area of external communications that focuses on building brand awareness and reputation. The traditional purpose of PR is to build and maintain a favourable public image for a business or individual, but over the years this has developed into much more. 

PR looks to support integrated methods for brand visibility and considers the long-term picture for companies. Great PR can position a business as a market leader and disruptor, not just to customers, but to peers, competitors, stakeholders and more. This builds trust and credibility, which is key to success in property and construction.

Q: What is the difference between PR and marketing?

A: While the two are similar disciplines that work cohesively, they are not the same thing. Marketing, to some degree, acts as an extension of sales since its main purpose is to help sell products and services. PR differs in that it is more concerned with brand reputation. Although, essentially, you can’t market products without doing some PR and you can’t do PR well without some marketing.

Q: Why is PR so important in the built environment?

A: The sector is an extremely pressured and competitive environment, where successes are determined by reputation and relationships, and implementing an effective PR strategy can help a company to improve in both of these areas.

The property and construction sectors are also, by nature, high-risk and all companies could suffer incidents that have potentially negative ramifications. Having a PR function in place will ensure a communications plan is ready and available, with skilled professionals on-hand to steer public narratives and positively influence conversations.

Q: What advice would you give to companies looking to build their PR functions?

A: Engaging with trusted experts is a great place to start, either with businesses or individuals that have a demonstrated history of delivering successful PR plans and campaigns. If you can get a sector specialist, with a working knowledge of your industry, all the better since they will already possess a comprehensive understanding of what you do, as well as key relationships and messages required across the sector. 

Q: What does success in PR look like?

All PR professionals want to see a busy, active and engaged press office for a business. This should include lots of positive press coverage in relevant media, crossing national, regional and trade publications. 

Other huge PR wins include securing profiling opportunities for individuals to converse on industry topics and issues, award wins at key industry events, increased online presence and forging positive relationships with media professionals, who outwardly support the business.

Q: How are approaches to PR changing?

We are learning more and more that ‘purpose’ is critical to a brand’s 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.

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, but communicating with key audiences is a much bigger objective. PR is no longer centred on promoting work and services but focuses on engaging in thought-provoking conversations across the industry and exerting a positive influence. 

Q: What trends are coming up in PR in 2023?

From my experience, companies that invest in thought leadership and encourage their key spokespeople to engage in topical issues are best placed to triumph. The current economic climate demands businesses work more cautiously and considerately than ever before and thought leadership is a great way to share a firm’s key messages through industry conversations. 

All brands want to be seen as excellent, ambitious and approachable, but brands also need to understand and engage with what’s vital in the built environment at the moment. For example, right now, that’s ESG, with a strong focus on sustainability, placemaking and delivering social value. Therefore, companies must be able to communicate their approach to ESG and a wider commitment to making the industry a better, greener space for all.

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