How The National Association of REALTORS® boosted earned media and audience engagement with a new content strategy
The National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) is America's largest trade association, representing 1.2 million members, including NAR's institutes, societies, and councils involved in all aspects of the residential and commercial real estate industries. A leading source of real estate-related content, NAR meets the needs of its audience in four ways:
- Consumer-focused information: friendly tips and advice aimed to inform the general public about home buying, selling and investing in real estate
- Data-driven content: statistics, research reports and surveys
- Legislative and regulatory efforts, advocacy and pro-real estate content
- Corporate communications: news such as personnel announcements, member benefits and other corporate news
Need for Optimized Content
After 109 years, NAR enjoys an established thought leadership position within its industry. NAR has a good communication strategy in place, but to stay ahead of competitors and continuously grow its audience, the team must constantly re-evaluate its approach and keep up with the latest trends and best practices. “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,” said Sara Wiskerchen, Managing Director, Media Communications, National Association of REALTORS®.
A consultation with team of experts to better optimize content
NAR turned to a team of experts at PR Newswire (a Cision Company), who offered them a consultation session to discuss recent media trends and how content can be optimized to better meet the needs of today’s media. “We send about 125 news releases annually via PR Newswire’s distribution network,” said 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 areas of improvement and offered actionable advice.
Headline optimization: NAR news 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
- Include number data, when applicable
- Provide critical information is in the first 55-70 characters to keep headlines tweetable and for increased search value
- Use subhead space to provide more context.
“One of our key takeaways was to take a closer look at our releases’ headline,” said 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.”
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. “The infographics really help our audiences digest the information and visually summarize the news releases. For example, pulling out the five takeaways from a 40-page report,” said Wiskerchen.
Data/Survey releases 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 news release, NAR must convey a great deal of research and statistics. To make this important content more digestible for its audiences, NAR implemented several formatting best practices, as suggested by the PR Newswire team.
“Our most popular releases are our data and survey releases and they have a tendency to be very data-heavy,” said 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.”
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. “For our more consumer-focused content, the PR Newswire team recommended sending 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,” said Wiskerchen.
Monthly content spotlight: As NAR sends out content quite frequently, one last tip given to them was to send out a release at the end of each month highlighting top content from its consumer facing website, HouseLogic.com. Their audience can find all pertinent information in one place and redirect traffic to past, existing content to give it repeat exposure.
Increase in both media attention and online engagement with content
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,” said 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.”
More optimized content and videos
NAR is committed to continuous improvement of its content strategy by following best practices and adding even more visual assets to news 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,” said Wiskerchen. “We’re looking to release our first video this summer with the goal of creating a video each month.” “For anyone looking to stay on top of latest PR trends and make the best out of their content, I would really suggest using the PR Newswire team,” said Wiskerchen. “They truly work as our partner in content.”