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The Role of Public Relations in Real Estate (Part 3): Crisis Management

No company, no matter how well-established, is exempt from crises. As they say, it’s not always sunshine. And pity the one that’s caught in a downpour when it has a gaping hole in the roof. 

That’s exactly what it’s like for any business enterprise that doesn’t have a storm-proof crisis management plan. When things get messy, years of hard work can get damaged, sometimes irreparably. 

This is the pitfall of many real estate firms. When business is great, they don’t think far enough into the future to plan for when disaster strikes. 

PR in Real Estate Crisis: Why Crisis Management Is Crucial

Real estate agencies and other highly competitive businesses are especially vulnerable to PR crises because when you peel away the layers of what makes a business succeed, the main ingredient is always trust. 

Lose it, and you lose your customers. What’s more, real estate is not only competitive. It’s also often too saturated, with countless firms vying for a larger share in the market. 

Without a real estate crisis management plan, any hit to your reputation could mean credibility lost and rapidly declining sales. Unfortunately, the reality is that a disaster big enough could even shut down your business.

Part 1 of the PR for Real Estate Series: Public Relations for Real Estate Firms

Part 2 of the PR for Real Estate Series: Maximizing Visibility and Building Trust for Real Estate Firms

No Industry Is Safe from Crisis

It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in or how long you’ve been in it. Any business is bound to face a crisis. Ayala Land, Inc. (ALI), a real estate giant, is an example of this.

In 2017, ALI was hit by a Supreme Court ruling that nullified its claims over a prime property in Las Piñas due to errors in its land survey details. 

Though the fiasco put the company in the middle of a messy legal battle, ALI focused on maintaining a position of financial stability. Together with appealing the SC ruling, they reminded the public that the loss of the Las Piñas property could in no way affect their business, as it was only 1% of its total land bank.

It was a hit, to be sure, but they succeeded at taking the focus away from the issue by putting a bigger spotlight on their robust financial condition.

What do we take away from this? However successful you’ve become, you can’t be complacent or unprepared. A PR crisis as big as ALI’s could mean the end for a firm that’s not prepared to take it on.

A Solid Plan is Key to Bouncing Back

Reputation repair in real estate doesn’t start when you encounter a PR disaster. It should begin long before you even have a problem. If you put together a crisis response team when you’re already deep in a scandal, bad report, or scathing review, you’re bound to make band-aid solutions or haphazard decisions.

Having a plan in place beforehand gives you the advantage of a clear direction on how to set a response in motion, the knowledge of pros and cons of potential decisions, and being informed on best practices that apply to your specific dilemma.

This is where PR should enter the picture. A good PR agency knows how to delicately craft a crisis management plan that will act as a safety cushion for the bad times. They can also put you on the right course towards rebuilding your name after a bad hit. 

It’s not enough to simply follow a few best practices on handling crises in business. Every crisis is different. And remember, there’s no such thing as a one-size-fits-all crisis response. 

Crisis Management Tips for Real Estate Businesses

Here are a few things to bear in mind when dealing with a crisis:

Put Together a Crisis Response Plan Early

If you don’t have a crisis management plan yet, put one together ASAP. This entails:

  • Setting up a response team. Your crisis response team is a committee of qualified people who are tasked to make decisions and execute a crisis response. Ideally, you should have a PR team to head this committee.
  • Planning a course of action. Before you act, you need to develop a plan or alternate plans covering every possible scenario, depending on how the problem evolves.  
  • Getting a few experts on board if necessary. In extremely delicate situations, such as when a critical injury, criminal act, or a death is involved, you might need to partner with experts to give you crucial advice and help you arrive at an informed decision.

The best thing to do is to get PR pros to work with you the moment a problem arises. You don’t want to wait until the situation gets too big for you to handle. Chances are, any destructive major crisis could have been handled at the early stages, preventing it from exploding into a catastrophe.

If you’re dealing with a relatively small issue right now, such as a negative amenities review on your social media pages, don’t shrug it off. Instead, use it as an opportunity to start planning for future crises. Having a robust community management strategy is essential for not only dealing with this kind of negative feedback but also for creating positive interactions around your brand. So not only will you be able to turn people around from bad publicity, but you will also succeed at forging good relationships directly with your customers, minimizing the possibility of bad reviews. 

Act Fast

Delaying a response or pretending that an issue doesn’t exist will only hurt your reputation in the long run. With the Internet, news can spread like wildfire, and any negative report about you can spiral out of control if you’re not proactive at shutting it down.

Taking too long to address an issue may also communicate a lack of commitment or a failure to take responsibility for a mistake, which can only further anger people. 

One major factor to responding quickly is establishing good relationships with the media even before a crisis happens. This will allow you easy access to platforms and media outlets to seed press releases to in a timely manner.

Related: PR & Media Relations: How to Build Strong Media Relationships 

Tell a Compelling Message

Every crisis response revolves around a story or message, whether you choose to be silent on the media or put out a statement. 

For this reason, your message has to make an impact, not only on how it’s delivered but, more importantly, because of what it means to those to whom you deliver it and for you as a business.

To be compelling, your message needs to:

  • Be true. Nothing can backfire worse than a lie. Don’t exaggerate details, make up information, or deny the existence of things or issues just because they put you in a bad light. 
  • Show a commitment to be better. If you’re dealing with a mistake, a scandal, or even a criminal act by your staff, you’ll want to be transparent on ways you’re improving or preventing similar problems from happening in the future.
  • Sincere. Let your message reflect the values that you and your customers uphold. Don’t just say something for the sake of saying it, and be prepared to act on what you promise to do.

Is your real estate business in the middle of a crisis? We can help you not only ride out the storm but rebuild your reputation. We’ve been doing it for businesses for over 25 years

Get in touch to know more about how we help businesses shape and rebuild their brand image through powerful storytelling and effective crisis management.

Jossaine Nunez
Jossaine Nunez is a freelance article writer, blogger, and SEO-driven maven. While her true passion lies in writing fiction, her love for storytelling extends to helping brands convey their message in ways that are both engaging and helpful for attaining their business goals. Jossaine’s interests in writing particularly about people, for people – which translates to brand audience engagement – stems from her experience as the Editor-In-Chief of Siliman University’s The Weekly Silimanian, which published slices of life and educational pieces surrounding university life. Her piece, A Review of Leoncio Deriada’s People on Guerrero Street, published in the Silliman Journal on discussions and investigations in the humanities and sciences, earmarks her foray into the world of writing about, and writing for, humans that make the world go round.