Real Estate Turns to Content for Serious Brand Building

wsj-wallstreetjournal-convertedSomething interesting has been happening to journalism as Americans lose confidence in big name news organizations and consumers become choosier on where they go for information. Brands are hiring journalists and creating their own news vehicles, and it’s happening now in the real estate market, notes Peter Grant in The Wall Street Journal.

“Big-name real estate services firms are joining the rush of businesses into new types of marketing that blur the lines between journalism and branding,” Grant notes.

He references several companies that are creating their own content vehicles to position themselves as thought leaders, not just in their own industries (de riguer for any business these days) but in the larger social and economic context.

“With a splashy party last week at O’mar’s La Ranita, residential powerhouse Douglas Elliman relaunched Elliman as a lifestyle magazine. The publication, which primarily used to showcase home listings, now includes stories on high-profile personalities,” Grant writes.

It’s happening in commercial real estate as well; Grant reports that Chicago-based JLL has moved from traditional PR and news releases to creating a branded news website.

“Now, the firm has hired about five journalists who will be backed by JLL’s global public relations team of about 40 as they write about such issues as urbanization and sustainability,” Grant notes, citing  JLL’s Charles Doyle who clearly states their intent: “The purpose is brand building.”

This idea is being echoed across the country, including in Los Angeles where CBRE Group is embarking on what their CMO calls “independent journalism informed by urbanists, academics, planners and big thinkers around the world.”

What a fascinating time. As our trust in mass media sinks and entrepreneurial journalism is an actual course of study, brands know their audience is actively seeking new streams of information.

“As the media expand into new domains of news reporting via social media networks and new mobile technology, Americans may be growing disenchanted with what they consider ‘mainstream’ news as they seek out their own personal veins of getting information,” notes Justin McCarthy on

Those brands who understand that they are all potential media brands and are ready to tap into that need with relevant and insightful reporting will find a welcoming and enthusiastic readership. And if they can truly maintain journalistic integrity in the process, we all win.