Writing the introduction to my recent book Promoting Property: insight, experience and best practice, I discovered some fascinating facts about the property and PR industries.
The world’s real estate is worth US$280.6 trillion: on average 3.5 times GDP and significantly more so in Europe, China / Hong Kong and North America. In the UK, the total stock of property assets has grown at an average rate of 6.1% over 30 years – close to double the rate of inflation – primarily due to a significant rise in the value of residential property.
Unsurprisingly then, over those 30 years a lucrative market for public relations (PR) in property has continued to grow. Of the UK PR and communications industry – itself worth £14.9bn and employing more than 95,000 people – approximately 17% now work in property and construction (According to the PRCA’s PR and Communications Census 2019).
In very broad terms, the property ‘lifecycle’ can be seen as an ongoing process which comprises:
- Land acquisition, appraisals & permissions
- Design & planning
- Sales / leasing
- Property management
- Demolition and remediation
Given the size and diversity of the property industry, property PR is inevitably wide-ranging, encompassing most of the industry’s skills and specialisms. The industry benefits from many different sub-disciplines of PR – which include business to business PR, community relations, consumer PR, corporate PR, crisis management, corporate social responsibility (CSR), education and arts work, sponsorship, financial PR, local government lobbying, media relations, public consultation, social and online media, stakeholder engagement – are deployed at most stages.
While the property lifecycle consists of various stages, each is intrinsically connected to the next. There is no isolated discipline or sector, or indeed a single property sector. For this reason, it is vital that a communications professional working in a specific field has a good understanding of the broader context.
Sectors as diverse as social housing and interior design, masterplanning and proptech might appear worlds apart, but the essential communications skills – the basis of research and understanding; planned, two-way, clear and transparent communication; monitored and evaluated – remain constant and there is no better way of benefitting understanding of one sector than through a knowledge of the bigger picture.
Furthermore, the end product varies considerably. In Promoting Property: insight, experience and best practice, we cover the function of promoting a large scale mixed-use scheme and the variety of property types which may exist within such a scheme (commercial and retail, private housing, social housing, student accommodation, build to rent, and the ‘top end’ of the residential market). It goes on to cover interior design and looks at how properties are marketed, with sections on estate agency (both on and offline) and the growing function of proptech. A chapter on property consultancy describes the communications function of companies which provide advice and services at each stage of the property process. Communications professionals working within any of these disciplines are advised to read not only about their own area but to gain a greater understanding of the PR practices in other specialisms.