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Dick Turpin

Advice: Don't Take Poor PR Baggage on a Company Ego Trip

July 12, 1987|DICK TURPIN | Times Real Estate Editor

Ego Corp. is not a name listed in the phone book, but there are a large number of firms eligible to claim that title.

As in entertainment and politics, it is the case in the aggressive world of real estate and development.

Almost all the players have public relations help, either in-house or on a contract basis.

We've even run across cases where the old newspaper string system is used--pay only for what is printed. That translates to an ego on a budget.

It dates back to the days when newspapers had correspondents or "stringers"--usually a needy reporter on a small daily or weekly paper--out in the county.

These stringers would phone in, telegraph or mail their best local items to the nearest big-city newspaper so that its readers would know what was going on in the sticks.

That was the traditional way for thousands of young people to make their contacts and eventually move to a downtown paper. But getting paid only for material printed (as a few publicists have done) is deplorable.

Granted, in the hectic and competitive fields of real estate and finance, name and title identity are very important. Selection of the public relations person or firm is even more important to create, maintain or polish a public image.

But in case after case, that's where the judgment of John or Jane Ego or their Ego Corp. fails miserably.

An executive who might be the biggest fussbudget when it comes to borrowing or lending money, selecting architects, contractors, landscape architects or interior decorators, seemingly throws caution to the winds and hires the first publicist who promises that "what the client wants, he'll get--and more."

Very often the client is confused or is misled to understand that a firm, specializing in advertising but offering public relations as an accommodation, can work wonders and glorify the company name and the boss.

Scores of Southern California firms, in the business to serve the real estate and development industry, take on only a narrow field of work to publicize sales and profits. A family trying to buy a home won't be that interested in that kind of report, even if it's published.

For the few agencies that do their work well, helping to prepare and present useful information and that "level" with--or educate--their clients about what is newsworthy and what isn't, there are scores of firms in Southern California that spin their wheels and wonder why their clients get little or no attention.

They are rarely involved in offering creative or serious public relations material or suggestions to deal with the issues their clients--home builders, realtors, developers, architects--face in providing affordable housing, coping with a barrage of no-growth or slow-growth legislation and the perennial image of the builder and developer as the one wearing the black hat.

I suggest that selection of a professional public relations firm be given as much consideration by our Ego Corp. executives as the price of land, lumber, paint and nails.

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