It’s become a tradition: in the first week of the year, ERA (the biggest realty group in Flanders) publishes its annual real estate barometer. This analyses the real estate market over the past 12 months in collaboration with the University of Louvain. We used these data to create a news story to underscore ERA’s expertise.
A realty group which generates over 4,000 individual sales per year automatically accumulates a mountain of interesting data. There’s bound to be – at least – one news story hidden in all those figures. The only problem? The mountain of data is so huge that it becomes unmanageable. So it’s important to decide on your story’s central message first.
For the ERA Barometer 2020, we chose to explain why it had been such an extraordinarily lucrative year for the real estate market. We did this by comparing the increase in house prices to the low rate of inflation: ‘House prices in Flanders have risen four times faster than inflation; this is unparalleled over the last 10 years’. It’s a clear and strong message.
A key message is even more powerful if it is supported by a neutral expert. Together with Sven Damen, a real estate economist from the University of Louvain, we set out to find the most relevant, statistical analyses. We wrote a press release with facts and figures, perspectives and analyses. Are we buying smaller or larger homes than before? Which big cities are the most expensive and which are the cheapest? What impact will the cancellation of tax-breaks for homeowners have? And so forth.
Is a press conference still useful these days? For most of our clients we would not recommend it, since a lot can be done digitally. And nowadays, journalists have less time to be physically present at these press moments. However, a press conference can sometimes be a good idea. In the case of the ERA Barometer, it gave the media a chance to challenge Sven Damen and Johan Krijgsman, the CEO of ERA Belgium, face-to-face.
This strategy turned out to be a success. Eight media outlets turned up, the story was picked up by news broadcasts on both the largest public and the largest commercial TV station, and there was widespread radio and newspaper coverage, including three front pages. ERA was clearly presented as the country’s main real estate expert. Mission accomplished.