How a PR Firm Gets Into The Product Business


As a PR company we sometimes liken ourselves to a NASCAR team, we don’t just represent brands we love, we wear our hearts on our sleeves (and laptops). When we decided to build our firm one of the things that was most important to us was that we work with companies who did work we loved and who aligned with our common vision. Doing a co-branded product with a firm we represent was a natural evolution of this. 

We are a bit different than other PR firms in that we didn’t start our business out of a love of public relations, we started with a love of real estate and the people we’ve met during our years of connection in the industry. 

When we worked with agents we started to realize just how much knowledge and intelligence it takes to understand the ins and outs of the real estate market. Every agent is their own business and has to both demonstrate expertise and do so in a way that appeals to their client base. Every detail, every mention, every piece of marketing contributes to how they are viewed in the community and to their bottom line. 

That’s why we are so proud to introduce our collaboration with W+R Studios, the new Luxe edition to the popular Power Packs for Cloud CMA. CMAs are so important to how an agent is represented. They are the document that clients really consider and they tell a story in every small detail. Cloud CMA are the leaders in creating beautiful and easy-to-understand reports both quickly and comprehensively.

We worked with Michael McNamara of Shooting LA, someone we considered the most talented real estate photographer in the business to select the most beautiful shots for these covers. Michael has shot some of the area's most impressive homes including properties owned by Kanye West, Madonna and many more. We hope you love these covers as much as we do. 

Check out the Luxe Power Packs here:


Defining Luxury In The Modern Age

What makes an experience, a product, or a service luxury? Luxury is more than a label, it's a combination of what a brand delivers and what it represents. While the word luxury sometimes loses its meaning through overuse, true luxury is a level above what is expected. Some of the brands we most respect as a company deliver on this promise every day. 

Luxury is a moving target. Some of friends in the real estate press have talked of an amenities race in luxury developments and we've certainly seen this in projects like Waiea that take the expected amenities of pools and fitness areas and then add on a theater and performance space, dog park, quiet lounges and more. 

Venerable brands such as Ritz-Carlton know they have to do more today than they did yesterday. That's why the company has taken the step of having an innovation database that gathers up ideas from their properties all around the world. Together employees contribute to this living and breathing experience of luxury that continues to surprise and delight their guests. 

Recently in an article for Luxury Daily, Pam Danziger compared two brands, one esteemed and legendary, Montblanc, one current and trendy, Shinola. Both brands deliver on a specific set of values and while each may appeal to a different personality, each balances both a sense of timeless tradition, history, and craftsmanship with a sense of sophistication and creativity that feels fresh, personal, and individual. 

This week Inman brings its Luxury Connect event to Beverly Hills. The conversation centers around real estate but also around what the true nature of luxury is. Our clients who are speaking at the event including Ben Bacal of Roofshoot, Paul Boomsma of Luxury Portfolio, and Chad Roffers of Concierge Auctions are more than just people involved in luxury real estate, they are students of luxury as a whole. Each has spent time learning not just the demographics of their audiences but the true psychographics of the motivations and aspirations of the luxury buyer. Join us this week for plenty of stimulating conversation, and yes, a fabulous party or two. 


The Value Of Your Face

We've known for a long time that video is taking over the internet but the shifts in the last few months to live broadcasts have been dramatic and have truly changed how we receive information. As more and more people discover Facebook Live, Snapchat, and Instagram stories, our feeds are increasingly full of little vignettes of people living their lives and talking to us directly from their phones and laptops. 

Sometimes a technology comes along before the public is ready to adopt it. When Flip cam first came out, the early adopters rushed out and made videos that by today's standards seem a little rudimentary.  Just as with the early e-readers, the audience wasn't quite ready and the early days of live video were mostly confined to a few technologists. Now video is everywhere and for some people that may not be great news. Being on camera may not be everyone's favorite task. 

It's not easy putting your face out there, but it is what moves the needle in business. Just as we need to be face-to-face with our clients, they also need to see our faces on video and to see us, not as stylized and beautiful flawless presenters, but as humans, who smile and speak and occasionally flub a sentence or two. 

Brad Inman and Danielle Riley recently started Inman Provoke partly because it was a natural evolution of what Inman has always done, move the conversation in real estate forward. Getting two or three people together to talk about the news of the week is a fast and fun way to deliver a lot of information quickly.

The printed word isn't going away, podcasts aren't going away, but video both live and recorded, is increasingly a smart way to communicate. For the camera shy, starting with Snapchat can be a fun way to get your feet wet, the filters can be like wearing a mask and the videos aren't long and disappear in 24 hours.  As Ben Bacal said in his Provoke episode with Danielle Riley, the ability to be on camera easily is a muscle that you have to train. 

Decades ago, people would train in speech classes and be videotaped giving speeches so that they could learn their tics and habits. Now we can do this for ourselves nearly instantly, we just need the courage to watch ourselves and to be willing to experiment.

Check out the two recent episodes of Inman Provoke featuring Ben Bacal of Roofshoot and Chad Roffers of Concierge Auctions below and be sure to tune in every Friday for the live broadcasts.

What It Takes To Rank

In the past year we've learned a lot about starting a company.  Many people start a company every year even knowing that the odds may be against them. According to the Small Business Administration,  only 66% of small businesses will survive their first two years.  What it takes to go the distance varies but a strong mission, a great team, and a customer-centered mindset can take you a long way.

In a couple weeks, the Inc. 5000 will convene in San Antonio for the annual conference and celebration of these businesses who have achieved the honor of being named to the Inc. 5000. These companies are the fastest growing private companies in the United States. Inc. calls these businesses the superheroes of the U.S. economy because they provide innovation, jobs, and growth.  The list showcases the ingenuity and determination of those who found companies and are able to help them thrive.

We are honored to work with three Inc. 5000 companies who have made the Inc. 5000 list for multiple years in a row. Each of these companies isn't just a fantastic team, they are also consistently evolving. In the last year, Concierge Auctions rolled out the Instant Gavel app providing customers the ability to bid on a property with a few taps of a screen. W + R Studios brought the CloudMLX product to the market and quickly nabbed an Inman Innovator award for the Most Innovative Technology. Hawaii Life, marked their eighth year and the launch of their vacations subsite designed to connect vacationers with the temporary home of their dreams. 

In each of these cases, the company had a strong and successful core business but also had the courage and vision to augment their original offerings to better serve their customers. This is at the core of what it takes to be a bold private company in today's ever-changing world. 

In a presentation at last week's Encon conference, our founder Audie Chamberlain reminded the audience of the Isaac Newton quote: "If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." Working with the best means we get to see a little further than most. Follow these companies, they are ones to watch and may help you see a little further too. 

Innovation Is A Moving Target

When do you know you've made it? Is it when you get the big deal, ink that huge contract, get that big promotion? 

These days the concept of "making it" being a permanent platform of ascension seems at best a bit naive. Things are always changing, and, as our client Ben Bacal, shown above speaking at C.A.R. Expo says, you are only as good as your last deal.

That's a lot of pressure, only being as good as your last deal. It means two things, the first is that you are starting fresh each time. You have more experience certainly but that experience is not a guarantee of success, it's simply proof you have done it before and can potentially do it again. The second thing it means is that you raise the bar for yourself a little higher each time. We only ascend when we continue to challenge ourselves to do more.

It's easy to stay complacent, it's easy to groan when there is yet another new technology or platform to adopt to. It's easier to say no. In her talk this week at C.A.R. Expo, Lisa Fettner of ReferralExchange gave three keys to adopting to new social platforms: be consistent, be relevant, and don't be afraid to have fun. 

Those are actually three good keys to anything in life. Careers are no longer linear or assured. Brands can be here today and gone tomorrow. But if we are resilient then we show up, we do the work, and we adapt to the times, we stay humble, and we keep moving forward. And we can be proud of ourselves when we take on something new as well as laugh at ourselves when mastery isn't immediate.  

Ben Bacal is one of the country's top real estate agents. He still door knocks as many agents do when they are starting out. He knocks on fancier doors now and with a billion dollar sales record behind him but that's not what he leads with, he leads with how his experience can help the person in front of him, in this moment.

As we innovate, we do it with an eye toward the end goal, so that we can be of value, today, and tomorrow, no matter what the future brings. 

Heading To C.A.R. Expo

The annual California Association of Realtors® Expo is one of the country's biggest real estate events. It's also a great time to connect with our clients and friends who work with and support California real estate and California Realtors.

We are kicking things off on Tuesday with with App-y hour. This is part of the Expo's Tech Tuesday focus that centers on the ever-growing role of technology in real estate. We are so excited to see the Roofshoot app (now in beta!) in the hands of the public. Come demo it and we promise you will be impressed. Our friends from W+R Studios will also be there showing off the magic that is Cloud Streams and Dizzle will be showcasing their app that easily connects homeowners and service providers. It all takes place from 10:10 a.m. - 11:40 a.m.  in Room 102 A/B.

Mystified by Snapchat, Instagram Stories and Periscope? Join Lisa Fettner, VP of Marketing at ReferralExchange for New Kids on Your Screen: Snapchat, Periscope & Instagram at 2:35 p.m. - 3:20 p.m. Room 104 C.

We wrap it all up on Tuesday with a meet up event hosted by Giveback Homes, ReferralExchange,  Summit Funding - The Mazzo Group, Exeter 1031 Exchange, and The Pango Group. Join us from 5-7pm at the Sky Room for networking with a view. 

On Wednesday we have two clients participating in the Broker Conference room 104B
Join Roofshoot founder Ben Bacal from 10:00 a.m.  – 10:45 a.m. for part of a panel called: The 90s Called, They Want Their Marketing Back. It promises to be a spirited discussion of how to evolve your marketing to suit today's consumers.

Hawaii Life's Matt Beall talks sustainable growth without sacrificing company culture from 2:00 p.m. – 2:45 p.m. as part of a panel called: Growing Your Firm - Tactics on how to build culture and grow as a company.

Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® is in a position to offer a unique view on real estate's international side. From 3:45 p.m. - 4:30 p.m in Room 102 A/B, Erin Koops, Executive Vice President of Member Services, Leading Real Estate Companies of the World will be moderating a panel of Communication Across All Borders. 

As part of Evolve Conference 2016 which takes place in Room 104 A Caroline Pinal, Co-Founder, Giveback Homes will be moderating a panel titled, Evolve Your Leadership, which will offer a thoughtful mediation on the changing workplace and how to lead across all levels. 

On Friday, Caroline will also be lending her expertise to Understanding the Generation Gap: Marketing to Appeal to All 9:45 a.m. - 10: 30 a.m. in Room 101 A/B.

We hope to see you there. Register at the C.A.R. Expo website. 

Days On Market And Price Setting In A Changing Marketplace

Audie Chamberlain and Laura Brady at last year's Worthshop conference.

Audie Chamberlain and Laura Brady at last year's Worthshop conference.

One of the reasons for the current podcast trend is that we can all learn so much for listening to two intelligent people in discussion with each other. Podcasts are one of the best ways of gaining information and an insight into someone else's world. 

Setting a price is one of the most important and often delicate parts of real estate. In episode 7 of the new Hawaii Life Procast podcast, Matt Beall, Hawaii Life co-founder and Laura Brady, Concierge Auctions President, delve into the delicate question of pricing and the harmful effect of days on market. Listening to two of the smartest minds in real estate talk data and strategy is a glimpse into greatness. 

Laura and her team often liken days on market to UV rays on the skin. A home that sits on the market for a long time, becomes, through no fault of its own, perceived as less valuable. When a  home is overpriced it can rack up days on market quickly but setting price and expectation with sellers is not always easy. Matt and Laura discuss the challenges and offer a few ways to be open and direct with clients about pricing. 

The world of luxury real estate is changing. It's more global than ever, and quicker than ever. The Instant Gavel app from Concierge Auctions is a great example. You can watch, in real time, as a home transacts on the auction marketplace. In the podcast, Matt shared the experience of being in San Francisco while at the Inman event at Facebook headquarters and being able to watch as a property was bid upon and ultimately sold.

Matt and Laura also talk about the value of having a support system in place and how to use time blocking to make sure that you balance work, family, and personal time, as well as the challenges of leadership. 

You can find all episodes of the Hawaii Life ProCast here or subscribe via iTunes. We promise it is worth your time. 

Audie Chamberlain Named Inman Ambassador For Luxury Connect

In just a few short years, Luxury Connect has become one of the key events for luxury real estate professionals each year.  The event takes place in Beverly Hills and is known not just for the exciting panelists and influential speakers but for the parties surrounding the conference itself. It's truly the place to see and be seen.

Last year, in describing his experience at the event, Audie termed it "where smart meets sexy" and that is certainly the case again this year. One thing luxury agents and brokers know is that face to face connection matters more than ever in business and there is no better opportunity to meet those at the pinnacle of the profession than in Beverly Hills. 

This year Audie has been named as an Ambassador for the event, a fitting honor that reflects his genuine enthusiasm for the conference. Roofshoot Founder Ben Bacal will be sharing some of the secrets to his success and how to grow your business by strategic investment in your marketing techniques

So many of the agents we meet say they want to get to the next level in their business but they aren't sure how to get there. Luxury Connect each year delivers tips and tools from those who have shown that it can be done with style, grace, and plenty of hard work.

Tickets can be ordered here and if you want the scoop on all those parties, just talk to Audie, he'll fill you in. 

Real Estate Marketing Tips From The Experts recently rounded up tips from 19 real estate marketers including our own Deidre Woollard. Some of the tips overlap but they serve as important reminders of the basics for marketing success in the modern real estate landscape. 

Don't skimp when it comes to your marketing materials

Many of the experts profiled stressed the importance of using professional writers, videographers, photographers and other marketing experts to create their materials. This serves two important purposes, it makes sure you have the best marketing materials you can and it also frees you up to do the things that are most important for helping you continue to grow your business.

Gets specific with your marketing

The old days of just creating marketing and hoping for the best should be long gone. Use Facebook's demographics to target your ad campaigns and take full advantage of tracking codes and other technology to make sure you are getting the most for your spend.  If you aren't taking advantage of every technological tool at your disposal you are putting yourself at a disadvantage. This also helps better prepare you when your client asks for a summary of your marketing efforts on their homes. 

The basics still work

Face-to-face connection is still one of the most important ways to grow your business and should never be overlooked. It can be very tempting to focus on the wide pool of potential clients in the world rather than the people you already know but the core of your network is the center of most of your return and referral business. 

The top professionals that we see in the field are both tech savvy and people savvy. They use every technological tool at their disposal but they don't use these tools as a way to avoid one-on-one interaction. Instead, they use their online networks to build their human ones. 


Finding And Refining Your Story

Our founder, Audie Chamberlain, recently appeared on Homesnap's Snapshot podcast to talk about digital storytelling. You can listen here or on iTunes or Stitcher

Over and over people talk about the value of storytelling and we are no exception. Our research has shown time and time again that people buy the story as much as they buy the product or service. The story tells us not just what the experience will be like but how it will make us feel.

Story is how we connect to each other.

It's easy though to lose story to modality, to get caught up in and overwhelmed by platforms, apps, and the rising tide of information. We can forget sometimes that story can be, at its core, service.

In the early days of man, why did we tell stories? It wasn't so we could brag about our hunting (although perhaps that was part of it), it was so others could learn both from us and about us. Story can serve as experience, it can shorten our learning of a skill or show us what not to do. It can also shorten the time it takes to learn about someone or something.  The stories we tell about ourselves, our brands, and our products can't just be about how awesome we are. They have to entertain or inform, or ideally, both. 

We've been fans of Simon Sinek's work for years and we return to it again and again because we believe you really do have to know not just what your story is but why you are telling it and why it will matter to others. We check in with our own "why" on a regular basis. We exist to help others tell their stories and grow their businesses in real estate and real-estate-related industries. Public relations, media relations, content marketing and social media are just some of the "hows" we use.  Your story takes many forms in today's world in words, video, imagery, and the nascent world of virtual reality, once you know and nail the core of what you want to say and how it will improve the lives of others, you have the power to go anywhere.