For lunch on Wednesday I stopped by the Fearey Group, a PR firm that handles accounts like Vulcan, Murray Franklyn and Live Historic and in the past handled accounts like Cristalla. I was invited to talk about Urbnlivn and how I would like to interact with them.
Here’s a summary of what I presented… Minus the interesting discussion and back and forth I had with the great people there.
Who am I?
I have a Bachelor of Mathematics degree with a major in computer science from the University of Waterloo. While there I got distracted by two startups. After school I went and worked at Microsoft for two and half years as a program manager followed by a move to Redfin where I’ve been for a year and half. At Redfin I’m the lead product manager for the search experience and am very involved in how we can change the real estate industry in favor of the customer.
My Real Estate Background
My real estate time line goes something like:
- Bought a house in college thanks to a startup that paid me in USD when they were worth something.
- February ‘06: Signed pre-sale PSA on Meritage based on its view and location. Didn’t look at a lot of places before signing.
- April ’06: Decided to create a list of Seattle condos and started blogging about the projects I was adding to the list.
- August ’06: Sold rental house in Canada.
- September ’06: Joined Redfin as the second product manager
- February ’07: Reserved at Trace Lofts. Flip flopped between units :).
- March ’07: Moved into the Meritage. Tried to fire my agent before closing but failed.
- July ’07: Tried to sell my unit at the Meritage but initially over priced it plus the market soured with the credit crunch. I learned a lot about how we could improve Redfin’s sell product.
- September ’07: Moved into Trace Lofts and rented out the Meritage to Paul, the best tenant ever.
- Today: Happy at Trace and the Meritage is still rented.
What’s the Focus of Urbnlivn?
It all started with my experience with downtown Seattle condos and trying to build a list of Seattle new construction condos (which has since grown stale, which I am sorry about and will fix next rainy weekend I’m not skiing.) The focus then shifted to:
- Condo news
- Condo gossip
- Condo events
- Customer issues
- Interesting resale units
- Urban issues
I of course try my hardest to cover these issues but depend on all our fabulous readers to contribute colorful comments. I’d also love more tips, gossip and rumors! Email me: firstname.lastname@example.org. If you want me to cover something I don’t, let me know (more re-sales? cheaper units? higher end units? different neighborhoods?) If you’d like to contribute, let me know since my day job doesn’t allow much time for blogging.
It’s important to note that I’m not a real estate agent. I don’t care if you buy or don’t buy at a particular project. Yes, I work at a real estate brokerage and it would be great if you used us. I am a shareholder of this company so I do have a vested interest in our business doing well but I don’t run Urbnlivn to generate leads to Redfin. Urbnlivn will not make or break Redfin’s business (Redfin is trying to be a national brokerage.) So why do I do it? I run Urbnlivn because I like living downtown and for the most part condos are more interesting than rentals. Occasionally I make enough off the ads to buy some beer. I don’t do it for the lack of money.
Suggestion for PR Interaction
I know many PR people other than the Fearey Group read this blog. Unfortunately very few ever interact with me (except of course Megan Hilfer who rocks!) I always feel like the ignored step child when agents and brokers are invited to the special events and I’m left out or I read about news about a new construction development in the Seattle PI. I know my traffic doesn’t compare to that of the major papers or glossies but this blog receives many hundreds of unique visitors a day who are all looking for information on condos. So throw me a bone now and then.
After consulting with Redfin PR Queen Cynthia this is what we think is a good way for PR folks to engage bloggers.
Read the blog and comment! Know what I write. Occasionally I get pitches for Bellevue condos. I have never blogged about a Bellevue condo. If you do comment, use your real name, disclose your affiliation. If you’re blogging as a customer, say so.
Treat bloggers like a reporter or real estate agent. Many bloggers will respect embargoes (I will.) I don’t want to read about something first in the Times. And every once and a while make one of us feel special with an exclusive.
Encourage the people involved in the project to also read and comment. If they don’t feel like commenting I’m happy to receive their thoughts over email and post an article. Respond to criticism. Listen to the feedback we give you. There’s so much free customer feedback here it’s incredible that more people don’t take advantage of it.
I welcome pitches! Send pictures or renderings with the press release. Condos are a visual thing! :) Send thanks by sending traffic by linking to my post and blogs from condo marketing sites
Invite me to events. I enjoy going to opening events, ground breakings, hard hat tours, private tours, etc.
I Like Free Lunches, Happy to Consult
If you work for a PR firm, marketing company or are involved in project management for a downtown project hopefully this post sheds some light on things. If you’d like to learn more, I’m happy to grab lunch when I can and more than happy to consult and tell you why your website sucks, how you don’t listen to customers and point out that your advertising campaign is geared towards a bunch of 60 year olds when you’re in fact trying to sell condos to hip urban youngsters. Of course, we’ll need some way to handle the conflict of interest because you can’t buy positive posts here :).