Five Media Relations Tactics Commercial Real Estate Owners Can Use to Help Local Tenants Get Off to a Roaring Start

To me, it’s always surprising—and encouraging—how deeply residents care about what’s happening in their local real estate market. It’s practically a sporting event. Most of us know how closely people watch residential real estate. Well, the same goes for other types of real estate, especially retail.

Particularly in their own neighborhoods, when a new retail space becomes available, people want to know what’s happening. Will there be a new restaurant? A clothing store? Home furnishings? A fancy boutique? People want to be in the know. They get excited.

How can you work with your local media to leverage that excitement? And help your tenant explode from the starting blocks like the world’s fastest man, Usain Bolt?

At PACE Communications Group, we’ve designed a program for property owners to do just that. Here are five things you can do to promote your new tenant immediately after the tenant signing, during the tenant build out, and through the grand opening.

  1. Inform Your Local Media About the Tenant Signing. As soon as possible, send a press release announcing your new tenant to your local newspaper or online publication, such as The Patch. Local reporters love to hear about new businesses; it’s one of the things their readers want to hear about. Your press release should include standard information about the store, its offerings, where it will be located, and a place to call for more information. This is a win-win: you get the news out early, and the publication gets the scoop on a new business coming to town.
  2. Share Personal Stories. If your tenants are willing participants, sharing some personal information presents a tremendous opportunity to generate additional media interest, especially during the traditionally quiet time of the store build out. Beyond details about the store, reporters love personal information about new store or restaurant owners. While gathering information for the press release, talk to your new tenants about their background. Did they grow up locally? Did they attend school nearby? Were they originally from the area and have come back to open up shop? All great information to share with local reporters.
  3. Uncover Unique Elements. Similarly, listen closely to learn whether there will be anything unique about the store, its products or menu items that you can share with the local media. For example, a wine shop we worked with planned to build an in-store classroom to hold wine education classes. Ok, that was interesting. But, what was more interesting was when the classroom wasn’t in use, the store planned to offer it to the community as a free resource. We shared that with a local reporter, who wrote a story about it.
  4. Offer Reporters a Sneak Preview. Who doesn’t love a chance to see something new before everybody else? After all, reporters are people, too! And, practically, a pre-opening tour allows reporters time to take in the details and write a well-rounded piece. By inviting the media to walk through the store a few days before it opens is a great way to generate coverage. 
  5. Promote the Grand Opening. As the store’s grand opening approaches, issue another press release to inform the media about opening day. In addition to the logistics, be sure to communicate any offers or promotions that are part of the grand opening event. Here, you’re working with the reporter to inform customers about what’s taking place. This is a great way to help support your tenant’s advertising initiatives. And, you can always follow up with the reporter about how the opening went and how well the store performed.

Using these steps, you can help your new tenant be mentioned in the media several times before it even opens. In addition to the momentum a grand opening typically brings, your new tenant will be off to a roaring start right out of the blocks—like Usain Bolt.

New CRE Marketing Technologies Hitting Boston Market

Just as you’ve mastered LoopNet and figured out how to keep your CoStar listings up-to-date (sort of), three new commercial real estate technologies are either here or coming soon to the Boston market. CRE technology companies ViewTheSpace, Compstak, and TheSquareFoot were part of a recent panel event called “Real Disruption” hosted by the MIT Alumni Association of the Center for Real Estate. View The Space is already here and the others are expanding to Boston over the next year or so. Here’s an overview of each:

View The Space: Motion Picture-Quality Video Tours

View The Space produces motion picture-quality video tours of commercial spaces to help some of the world’s largest owners and brokerage firms lease space. Landlords such as Prudential and Equity Office Properties use View The Space to highlight availability and engage tenants. Beyond video, View The Space streamlines the entire leasing process by tracking analytics across live, active deal flow.

View The Space has “created a style of shooting video for office space that’s really never existed. Ours is the closest thing to actually being there, where you fly through the space and you actually feel like you’re in it. You just can’t touch the walls,” Nick Romito, founder and CEO of ViewTheSpace recently told The New York Times.

“On the landlord side, we allow you to track how a person is interacting with the tour. So you get to see 1) the prospect who’s looking at it; 2) how many times they’ve watched it; and 3) how engaged are they with it. You’ll actually be able to tell whether a specific firm has taken the tour 10 times — that’s a very, very high level of engagement — and they’re a serious prospect so I’m going to follow up with them.”

View The Space launched in Boston in 2013. It recently closed $7 million in A round financing, is currently in 17 other markets, and plans expand further into the top-twenty markets by the end of 2014.

Compstak: Crowdsourced Lease Comps

Michael Mandel, Compstak co-founder and CEO, realized that residential real estate websites have long gathered home sales comps from public records. But, because commercial real estate deals are primarily transacted through leases, there’s been no public record for lease comps. Until Mandel founded Compstak, that is.

Compstak is a crowdsourced database of commercial lease comps used by brokers, appraisers, and researchers. Through a subscription access, brokers submit the comps they have in hand in return for Compstak points, which can be used to view the comps they need.

Owners who want to price their space and evaluate investment opportunities also use Compstak. For instance, landlords may find that pricing their space can be a challenge; asking rents are easy to obtain, but taking rents can be difficult to get a handle on.

Using Compstak, landlords can search by neighborhood or by using a mapping tool to draw the area in which they’re interested. To narrow results, they can search by square feet and by floor. For instance, one might want to search for 7,500 to 15,000 square feet on floors 25 and above. Search results include starting rent, average rent, concessions, and terms. Compstak also lets you see the brokers that performed the transaction and any notes related to the deal. Finally, data can be exported to Excel for an analyst team to review.

Compstak is currently most active in New York City, but plans to expand soon to major markets such as Boston by the end of 2014.

TheSquareFoot: Helping Businesses Find Space

TheSquareFoot co-founder and CEO, Jonathan Wasserstrum, told the “Real Disruption” audience that he came up with the idea for TheSquareFoot after listening to a friend’s experience. Wasserstrum’s friend had relocated to a new city and had absolutely no problem finding a place to live. But, finding office space was an entirely different story. There was no place online for businesses looking to relocate, expand, or open a new location.

With that experience in mind, Wassterstrum launched TheSquareFoot, which offers interactive online search and concierge services to businesses searching for space. Through its integrated platform, tenants are able to more simply manage the search process while landlords and brokers can better market and manage their properties online.

TheSquareFoot allows you to search by market, drill into individual listings for pricing, photos, and leasing contacts. In addition, you can view a property’s WalkScore®, which measures walkability on a scale from 0 – 100 based on walking routes to destinations such as parks, restaurants, and retail. Further, TheSquareFoot offers concierge services by partnering with office furniture and décor companies as well as marketing, cleaning, and telecommunications firms to help make the tenant’s overall move in process that much easier.

Expect to see TheSquareFoot expand to Boston by the end of this year or early in 2015.