We asked clients and candidates at all levels in the property industry what key issues they are facing today – 3 topics came up again and again.
1. The App Revolution
The latest Ofcom data puts smartphone ownership amongst adults in the UK at 66% in Q1 of 2015. That’s two thirds of over 18s who have instant access to applications on their mobiles – and companies are making the most of it. But how does this impact property PRs?
Firstly, let’s look at social media. Anyone on the street is now a potential journalist – within seconds, details of the bad customer service someone has received in your estate agency branch hits Twitter, a picture of lorries causing havoc outside your development is on Instagram and an incident at one of your sites is being live-streamed on Periscope. PRs no longer have the luxury of the time between a newspaper editor calling and going to press to come up with a well thought-through response – it has to be instant, and PRs have to be prepared. Social media isn’t all bad though – use it in the right way and it can be a valuable tool for communicating directly with your market.
It’s not just the social media giants that have adapted to the app era. The property industry is jumping on the bandwagon too – on January 26th this year, Savills, Knight Frank, Chestertons, Strutt & Parker, Douglas & Gordon, and Glentree Estates launched OnTheMarket.com – an online and in-app portal to rival Right Move and Zoopla. Savills, Knight Frank, and Chestertons also have their own app for property searches. In a world that has moved online and is now going mobile, PRs are tasked with securing their company a voice in a crowded market.
2. London’s ‘Housing Crisis’
Over the short campaign period in this year’s General Election, you couldn’t escape the mention of housing – explained by the Ipsos Mori poll that showed this much discussed topic creeping its way up the list of the most important issues for voters.
With publicity on housing policy intensifying post-election, it is clear that house builders, large and small alike, need to protect their reputation. They are keen to be shown playing a part in the solution, not the problem. Affordable housing, especially in the capital, is something both candidates and clients find themselves talking about more and more.
3. Middle East Investment
The Shard, Harrods, the Olympic Village, New Scotland Yard, The Savoy and a large chunk of the Canary Wharf financial district are just a few of the key sites across London that are owned by investors from the Middle East. A recent report by JLL revealed that interest in the London property market by investors from the Middle East shows no sign of slowing in 2015.
Whilst money pouring into the UK brings the obvious economic benefits, it is also introducing competition for column inches amongst British property investors. PRs need to rely on their established relationships with top-tier property journalists to make sure we continue to talk about the funds coming from investors on home turf.
The health of the property market is a key factor in the overall wellbeing of the UK economy and the recent transformation of the property industry undoubtedly presents a challenging but exciting opportunity for PRs. With Partners and Directors now regarding the communications team as a vital part of the wider operation rather than simply a business support function, the doors are wide open for PRs to play a pivotal role within their organisation.
Warren Madlin is a consultant for the corporate PR and communications recruitment team, and specialises in property. For further information please do not hesitate to get in touch: call 020 7559 6520 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.