MetaProp Advisors

What’s Your RETech Communications Strategy?

Blog written by Philip Russo, Founding Partner, MetaProp Advisors

So, you had your idea, you found your seed money and you hacked your real estate technology startup out of thin air. You’re beginning to get traction and maybe even a bit of stickiness, but who knows about your RETech company’s success? Most likely, family and friends and not nearly enough of everyone else. As a lean startup you don’t have any public relations, let alone strategic communications experience, and you sure don’t want to spend much on a PR firm that may or may not understand your business and be a fit at any price.

What’s to be done?

First, prioritize to whom you want to communicate your company’s mission and value. 
Depending on the nature of your startup, you will want to promulgate your message through traditional and social media to any or all of the following:

  • Investors -- Next-round funding might be of immediate importance.

  • Existing and potential clients -- Publicizing your NPS can lead to valuable referrals.

  • Corporates -- Are real estate companies (and potential acquirers) aware of your startup? Do they understand it?

  • Competitors -- Keeping them on their heels with PR is a strong “offense is the best defense” tactic.

Second, define closely what makes your company unique and irresistible. 
A strong USP is based on objective differentiators that resonate with your customers and set you apart from your competition. Ask yourself:

  • What are your top benefits and features?

  • What do you do exponentially better than your competitors?

  • What is unique about the operations of your company?

  • Do you have proprietary software?

  • Do you have competitive pricing that reflects the value you deliver?

Third, choose the media channel(s) that will best help you tell your story. 
Everyone wants to be in The New York Times or Wall Street Journal. That’s not happening easily. Determining the publications, reporters, columnists and blogs that are the best fit for your message is the best way to get started. Then, select your A, B, C plan for pitching your news. For instance:

  • Plan A -- You want to get in front of general VC’s, so you pitch your client growth and search for next-level funding to TechCrunch or CB Insights.

  • Plan B -- Neither TC nor CB bites, so you try the same pitch with your local business journal or daily newspaper business section.

  • Plan C -- None of the above works, so pitch a blogger with a video cast who has begun covering RETech and needs an established startup interview subject to get traction.

These are just some of the many strategies and tactics a startup needs to think through to successfully use the media to grow your business. Aside from direct media relations, there are also conference panel appearances and sponsorship and advertising opportunities to analyze and consider. We will talk about those items another time.

Meantime, as founding partner of MetaProp Advisors, the consulting business of MetaProp NYC, the world’s premier real estate technology nexus and RETech accelerator, I hope this has helped focus your thinking about media strategy for your company. You may contact me at prusso@metaprop.org or at +1-917-499-1447 (m).

- Philip Russo

Learning to Think Along With a RETech Startup

Blog written by Philip Russo, Founding Partner, MetaProp Advisors

In the rapidly growing but still under-serviced world of RETech startups, a prime challenge for accelerator consultants from traditional business is learning what exactly these aspiring companies need to grow. The difficulty of this task is compounded by two common challenges: the startup CEO isn’t sure what he or she needs and in what order, and often, neither does the consultant new to the world of startup thinking.

After 16 years in corporate real estate communications and public relations, just weeks ago I became founding partner of MetaProp Advisors, the consulting business of MetaProp NYC, the world’s premier real estate technology nexus and RETech accelerator. As such, I find myself facing both those challenges, but experiencing the excitement of needing to learn and teach communications solutions at a highly accelerated -- pardon the pun -- pace.

Generally, the first requirement of a RETech startup is communications. The necessity of clearly defining the company’s mission and articulating it internally to colleagues and recruits, as well as externally -- through traditional and social media -- to venture capitalists, potential partners and clients is recognized by even the most unknowing of founders as immediately vital. So, how can a new-to-RETech professional communicator and a new-to-public relations RETech founder bridge this information gap? As always, asking the right questions of each other is the best place to start.

So, Ms./Mr. RETech founder: “What’s your elevator pitch?” Task one is to nail the elevator pitch. The RETech founder and the RETech communicator must be able to describe the business to a stranger in less than 30 seconds. This concise speech reinforces mission clarity for originator, which in turn makes it easier to convey your company’s existence, purpose and value to prospective clients and investors.

Next question: “What are your ‘key words’ to attract eyeballs?” Saying “ReTech,” as a key word is not nearly enough. Specificity is all! So, if you’re in the the DIY landlord business like MetaProp Advisors’ client, Rentalutions, you know that your key words are “landlord software,” “tenant screening,” “online rent payments” and “online rental applications.” Key words should be in every message you disseminate. Do you know yours?

Attracting attention through key words leads to the question: “Do you know the media players with whom you want to interact?” If you don’t, your advisor should know them and educate you on who to target to maximize your time and the promulgation of your message. “Coffee talk” introductions to the media -- whether in person, by phone, email or video conferencing -- is an important early step for the RETech CEO wanting to establish his or her identity and authority with the media.

Of course, media relations is a complex, rapidly growing and highly competitive 24/7 landscape, so the trusted communications advisor must from the outset manage client expectations by demonstrating command of the media, from highest-value domain authorities to up-and-coming bloggers. The advisor will have in place rational and clear procedures to measure the results of media engagements and to demonstrate to the client the efficacy of their partnered efforts, completing at least the initial steps in learning from each other how to think like a RETech startup and communicate that knowledge to the world.

- Philip Russo (Founding Partner, MetaProp Advisors)