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Lawyers, agents and media on international communications in real estate
Posted on: February 22, 2013
Having missed the Profile Network Property Week editor lunch at the end of January following the mini-personal crisis resulting from the theft of my purse and mobile phone, I was keen to get along to a Profile event to catch up with friends and contacts involved in property marketing – not least Rhoda Katz and Duncan Lamb who are the tireless organisers. There were also some folk from DTZ I hadn’t seen for a while who were kindly hosting the breakfast event.
The topic was “Spreading the word: getting your message beyond the UK” and the panel consisted of:
Ruth Blanco, Head of EMEA Communications at DTZ (a UGL company)
Karen Snell, Senior Corporate Communications Manager at solicitors/lawyers Hogan Lovells
Paul Strohm, Editor of Europroperty which has just launched a new digital publication – Europroperty Trends – to provide an alternative to Property Investor Europe and Property EU
The key points arising were:
Global vs local communication
Despite the size and global reach of global firms, the intranet remained an important resource for sharing information and developing messages which were then used by those in local areas to tailor to their requirements (i.e. local adaptation). But there was recognition that there were relatively few truly international stories.
There was tacit agreement that whilst sharing information within the UK remained an issue, the potential to extend into international arenas was limited.
Internal communications – particularly in the area of support for international cross-selling initiatives – was increasingly on the agenda for communications professionals, bringing them into closer alignment with business development professionals.
The role of content marketing was increasing.
Use of channels
There was some debate about the use of different channels – web, microsites, mobile, email and traditional trade, national and regional media.
Some property advisers collaborated with lawyers in order to reach international clients and markets.
Traditional media were seen to continue to play an important part in name recognition and brand reputation management.
MIPIM was seen as a marker for the increase in interest in international real estate transactions although most agreed that its opportunities for face to face contact remained the most critical.
The general consensus of the panel and those present was that the difficulty in achieving fee-earner engagement in conversations and the challenges of measuring effectiveness meant that social media remained relatively untapped except as a method of distributing news from the centre with a hub and spoke approach.
As more people used the Internet via their mobile device, the role of video was increasing. And this was supported by good analytics showing areas of interest and engagement.
Recent Twitter statistics (US 14m users, UK third/fourth position with France, Germany and Italy at 18th, 19thand 20th position) indicated that whilst it had some value in pushing out news the main value was in niche approaches where engagement was more likely. Twitter was not found to be effective in recruitment where Facebook led.
LinkedIn was found to be effective for managing alumni programmes although there was some concern that recent developments had tried to move the platform from its personal networking and conversation strengths to corporate news distribution. Its importance in the Singapore market was noted. Some were trying to encourage their users to distribute central and niche stories through their profiles although there was resistance. Some were investing in fee-earner training and others had concern about “institutionalising relationships” to guard against loss when fee-earners departed.
China and the Middle East presented particular problems – and not just on the language front. Different search engines are used, pictures are preferred over words, the media is highly regulated, social media use is limited and web sites remain the information source of choice.
European information was sent primarily by the agencies and a lot was received from Germany.