What Makes a Property Hot in the Eyes of the Media

Garnering coverage for clients in any category is nuanced, as is the case for marcomms pros representing real estate clients. We asked a handful of leaders in this space what makes a property hot in the eyes of the media, and what strategies help make a development coverage-worthy.

It turns out that what attracts tenants and residents is what gets the media interested, too. “The most press-worthy buildings today are stretching the boundaries of what’s possible either through amenities, design, hospitality or technology,” says Sarah Berman, founder and president of The Berman Group. “Buildings today must be tenant-centric or resident-centric and must incorporate ‘genuine’ hospitality, whether it is hotel-quality services in a residential development or within commercial spaces. Fisher Brothers has launched @Ease this year in two Midtown locations and the Milstein’s 335 Madison has created a hotel-like environment with a lobby bar, The Perch and a Murakami sculpture as its centerpiece.” 

Roof Terrace at @Ease Hospitality at 605 Third Avenue | The Berman Group

Suzanne Rosnowski, founder and CEO of Relevance International, points out that a property needs to have that wow-factor for readers, too. “Media are excited by properties that are going to generate attention from viewers and be easily understandable, even if they aren’t in the inner world of real estate,” she says. “Properties with striking imagery, well-appointed interiors, design by a starchitect, a great value or over-the-top price point, or any superlatives or firsts that the property represents are always a hit. Just as with any topic, media are interested in properties or related news that can surprise the reader. Exciting brand collaborations, unique amenity offerings or the way a property meets a wider community need is also great fuel for news value.”

We’d be remiss not to mention the shifts the real estate industry has gone through as a result of the pandemic – especially for office buildings. ”It’s such a competitive space so you really need some element that’s first, newest or best,” says Jeremy Soffin, Managing Director at BerlinRosen. The post-pandemic environment on the commercial side has been especially interesting as the leading landlords come up with really innovative ways to lure workers back to the office.”

Both business leaders and employees are looking for those features that make going back to the office attractive after almost three years of working from home. Not only do spaces need to have some engaging features, but they also need to align with environmental efforts.  “Companies are returning to the office in smarter, greener and more flexible buildings,” says Berman. “The most newsworthy buildings are rich in hospitality, amenities and are super high-tech in terms of providing connectivity, air quality and security. Meeting tenant demands in a post-pandemic environment, buildings must also satisfy new requirements for energy efficiency and sustainability.”

Pantry at 335 Madison Avenue | The Berman Group

Since the physical elements of properties are out of PRs’ hands, knowing what details to pitch to media is crucial. “Journalists are constantly seeking what's ‘new’ and ‘hot,’ and in real estate, an industry that is ever-changing and ever-evolving, there is no shortage of information to share,” says Amy Rossetti, CEO of R[AR]E Public Relations. “When pitching a real estate development, there can be several factors that dictate the newsworthiness, but usually, those that generate the most buzz are the ones that are exceptionally different – anything that is the first-of-its-kind, the tallest, the most expensive or the largest, are what tend to garner the most press coverage. Other newsworthy angles might include a notable architecture or designer, unique amenity spaces, sustainability components, a historic aspect or a celebrity hook.” 

As is the case for the marcomms industry as a whole, creativity is key. “Even with a great property, the media landscape in the built environment is highly competitive and crowded. True comms pros can help build interest by finding or creating stories that aren’t obvious,” says Rosnowski. “Creative activations or brand partnerships—particularly ones that bring real value rather than gimmicks—can elevate a property profile in the media. The idea is to build a creative overlay for a property, such as through an amenity party or neighborhood partnerships. You can also do a lot with property interiors to make them fresh and interesting. It’s the one area of design that you can play with once a building is complete.”

She continues, “The common element of any creative property PR strategy is that it be counterintuitive. If every other developer is doing one thing, then you need to show how a property is doing the opposite and bucking the trend. For a comms pro, this necessarily involves understanding the market and continuously doing research. Media don’t want to keep writing the same story, and a counterintuitive headline is much more useful and fresh.”

The Ellinikon developed by LAMDA Development: The Riviera Tower by Foster + Partners | Relevance International

Rossetti seconds that, saying, “Sometimes you have to get a bit more creative to make properties coverage-worthy, which can require PR pros to get scrappy. For example, one time we were representing a client who was selling multi-million-dollar lots in Nevada...it was surrounded by nature and promised to be an incredible development, but for years, there was nothing built. So, we did what we do best, we used ingenuity to come up with an angle that generated a great deal of press...the tax advantages!”

Overall, a good rule of thumb for getting media interested in covering a development is to consider what tenants or residents will find exciting about the property. Berman concludes, "Press will come for buildings that generally are places that people want to work, live, play or stay. Not only are these buildings exemplary of the new order, but these buildings will be the ones that stand the test of time.”

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