Before founding Relevance, Suzanne was the Partner in charge of the Real Estate division at Quinn & Co., where she helped build one of the industry’s largest PR teams. We chatted with Suzanne about thinking big, standing out and staying relevant.
BuzzBuzzHome: What sets Relevance New York apart from your PR typical firm?
Suzanne Rosnowski: We are both a brand building and public relations firm. What that really means is we’re very strategic with our PR approach, starting everything at the brand level and building from there. We don’t look at a brand in a vacuum, but look at the competitive set, too. Then, we create a custom strategy that works across all brand touch points — website, social media, press, direct-to-target, events, etc.
We have hands-on, experienced team members who think at the highest level, many with years of promoting real estate, specifically.
BBH: What are some of the biggest misconceptions that people have about branding?
SR: Branding is not just logos. You must constantly hone your brand’s messaging, positioning, sales proposition and refresh it over time. It isn’t something you do once; you need to revisit it often.
Relevance = Value + Attention. There are three steps:
1.) Create value
2.) Find ways to garner attention
3.) Keep the attention
The last part is the hardest. That is why you should look at PR as a long-term strategy. Success is not built overnight.
BBH: What are particular challenges that firms face in branding and promoting themselves?
SR: For a residential development, for example, I sit in a lot of meetings where team members spend time focusing on what other buildings are doing. There isn’t anything wrong with that, but the key to doing something innovative is having the guts to break away from the norm and create something original. Surround yourself with a smart creative team who will innovate with you.
Some companies bring their public relations person onto the team late – at the very end of the marketing process to just push what they’ve created. Sometimes, despite the best intentions, the publicist just inherits a brand that is just not positioned well, not doing anything new and is not newsworthy. We make sure the positioning is right well before a proactive media push. You need someone who can give the brand that litmus test on your team early on. It will help save a lot of time and effort in the long run.
It is a competitive market and everyone is vying for attention in the same places: same real estate columns, same blogs, same events, etc. It is imperative that you have a strategist by your side who can help advise you on how to break through the noise. Sometimes, it’s by not making any noise at all.
BBH: How can real-estate firms, whether they’re developers, brokerages or other companies, start building relevance?
SR: Consistency: Are you the same brand on all social media, internal communications, external communications, in the media, in your brochures, on your website, etc.? And is your staff also describing the company in a consistent manner on all of their communications platforms? Create brand standards to rein this in.
Assert an opinion: Don’t play it too safe. Safe isn’t that interesting. Some of the best thought leaders I know in the business are called upon by the top-tier media because they know that person will add color, examples, excitement and original thoughts to their stories.
Ground yourself in facts: While it is important to assert an opinion, the more data, examples and hard facts you can base those opinions on, the stronger they are. Know what’s happening in the market. Be well read. Be specific.
Consider your audience: Don’t talk about things that aren’t relevant to your audience because it serves you. It’s not all about you – make it about the audience/user/client.
Have a well-rounded presence online, but don’t try to do too much at once: It’s better to be on fewer platforms and do them really well than to be everywhere and not able to effectively use any of the social media platforms.
BBH: You said that the key to brand success is not making it “all about you.” Could you elaborate on that?
SR: It is important to create a “WIIFM” – What’s In It For Me – for your audience. Great ways to show why they should pay attention to your brand include useful quick tips, timely news, insights on trends, forecasting, advice grounded in experience and explaining how working with you will be helpful to their bottom line.
BBH: What are some quick tips you have on great public relations, whether for a company or for an individual?
SR: Be open to feedback: In order to be advised by a strategic PR person, you need to be able to hear that something is not news, that it needs to be revisited or strengthened, it isn’t perfect yet.
Don’t try to do everything yourself: The most successful clients have a designated in-house point person who helps keep brand/PR deliverables moving.
Think big and be bold: Don’t be afraid to make bold moves. The little ones take almost the same amount of time and effort and don’t result in the same reward.
Be authentic: People can see through inauthentic brands, whether they are a single personality or a large corporate brand.
BBH: In your career, what techniques have you found helpful for building your own relevance?
SR: I am a connector and I pay it forward: I connect people all the time and help add value to their business beyond my core competency of PR/brand advisor. Everyone should do this; it’s a part of paying it forward. For every time I have helped people out with their business, it has come back to me several times over. Give people your time and attention.
I keep my eye on their business: I know the real estate business and I know what drives their business. At the end of the day, that is what I’m hired to support.
I keep challenging myself and evolving: In the last decade of doing real estate PR, my technique has had to evolve with the market, with trends, with pop culture, with technology. That is the key to staying relevant. Just this past year, I created a new brand building model that I am looking to trademark, and I am using it with clients. It’s the latest in a constant effort to evolve, do things better, push the envelope and help create relevance for our clients.
About Relevance New York
Relevance New York is a strategic public relations and brand building agency based in New York City. Founded by industry leader Suzanne Rosnowski in June 2012, the agency truly knows what it takes to become and stay a relevant brand in today’s fast-paced digital world: by creating brand awareness across all touch points so that clients – both large and small – stand apart from their competitors. Services include brand building and positioning, relevance creation, public relations, direct-to-target and impact measurement. For more information visit www.relevancenewyork.com, Relevance New York on Facebook and follow @RelevanceNY.