July 20, 2011
When it comes to the public relations side of housing and condo development in the GTA, there are very few people as knowledgeable as Rhoda Eisenstadt.
Rhoda is a managing partner at The Communications Group, one of Canada’s largest independent public relations firms. She’s been in the business since 1976, amassing a wealth of unique experience providing real estate clients with strategic planning and consumer relations services.
Let the buzzing begin!
BuzzBuzzHome: How did you come to work in PR?
Rhoda Eisenstadt: I was actually a grade two teacher in the public school system and I was on maternity leave, so I had a year off. After about three or four months, I had cabin fever and my partner had just started The Communications Group at that time and they needed someone to come in and do things that nobody else wanted to do.
I came in and started to work two days and then three days and then very quickly it became a full time job. So I didn’t go back to teaching, this was more fun.
RE: The variety that this job affords me. I start thinking about what we do in our office everyday and the different things that we do in a day or a week is just mind blowing.
For example, where else would you get to put out a news release and work with the world news media for the sale of the $28 million penthouse at the Four Seasons. We also do so many events. We worked on a celebration of the new ownership of the King Edward Hotel. We threw a huge 60s/70s themed party where we had a Beatles cover band and John and Yoko in bed with peace signs and Marilyn Monroe in the lounge singing.
At NY Towers, when the first four buildings were completed, they had designed the towers so the tops would light up at night — they’re quite stunning. We had a lighting up celebration for that particular thing and the TV stations had sent their helicopters over. There are so many different types of events. We do about 200 every year.
Other times we work with various development companies when they first buy a piece of land to reach out to the stakeholders to let them know about the company’s plans for that piece of land.
BBH: We were going to ask you about what a typical work day is like… But it sounds like there’s no such thing as a typical work day for you.
RE: That’s very true. That’s what makes it so wonderful and what keeps everyone on their toes. You need to be very organized to be in this business and as long as you’re organized it can all happen. You can really enjoy everything that you’re doing.
BBH: How has the industry changed in the years you’ve been a part of it?
RE: There a number of ways that it’s changed. The first way is the consumer is so much knowledgeable now. A number of years ago, Hugh Heron of Heathwood Homes, used to say “you know people spend more time shopping for a pair of shoes than they do buying a house and that needs to stop.”
Fortunately, this has changed. Everyone really does their homework now and there are some many ways for them to become well educated. Using the print media and knocking on doors, I guess, those are the traditional ways of doing that. But also, turning on their computer or iPads and exploring the different social media platforms. They can view and builder’s website. There are all kinds of purchaser chat rooms. They can review purchasers’ experiences with builders on various sites. They can read the blogs.
We’re tapping into BuzzBuzz to get our clients’ messages across to the consumer. We’re tapping into existing blogs, we’re writing blogs for our clients or helping with websites for our clients and Twitter and Facebook messaging. It’s just terrific.
Another big change is that the purchaser is not necessarily an end user anymore as Toronto has become like other major cities in the world. Like New York and London, it’s considered a very good place to invest. The Canadian economy is so solid and the housing industry is giving very good returns. Over a long period of time there’s been a steady increase. Toronto is now a very competitive market so people are getting tremendous value for their money.
Also the number of developers in Toronto who are dedicated to building condominium or low-rise homes that really enhance the skyline — both in the city and the ‘burbs. There are so many in the city now.
BBH: What’s your favourite summer neighbourhood in Toronto?
RE: That’s a hard one. I think my favourite area is the Yorkville/Annex area. It’s not too far from my house. It’s great to walk down there. It’s very green, you’ve got Bloor Street and the shops but if you go to Philosopher’s Walk all the way down — it’s really beautiful and it’s really something to have that in the middle of the city. Koerner Hall is also gorgeous there. The architecture is gorgeous, the way they put the old and the new together. That for me is the most charming neighbourhood in the city.
BBH: What do you know now that you would have liked to have known when you started working at TCG?
RE: I would have loved to have known from the beginning that you need to keep a pair of construction boots and a pair of socks in the back of your car at all times for construction site visits.
Thanks to Rhoda for taking the time to BuzzTalk with us!