Saturday, May 9, 2009

Getting real about real estate reporting

Who knows if I'll be reporting on real estate when the recession recedes, but if I am, I sure hope I'm not a pushover again for developers who think I'm their automatic publicity pimp.
You see, I'm a little cynical about real estate developers these days.
When business is gangbusters and they've got a project on the table, they can't talk enough about their latest and greatest plan. Their public relations people call reporters every five minutes trying to snag front page play. Their clients, after all, are poised to change civilization as we know it.
Just let that gameplan fail, however, and these clients -- along with their PR consultants -- shift into "bin Laden" mode. That's where they are now, hiding out in a cave trying their darndest to escape detection.
I'm thinking particularly of some big name firms in Phoenix who have always prided themselves as being the top-of-the-heap developers. So much more credible and sophisticated than the other development riff raff.
Guess what? Those same companies are in deep doo-doo now, and there's not a living soul in their midst who will discuss the status of projects that impact surrounding neighborhoods and communities.
They don't think they owe any explanations. In fact, these developers now employ PR firms that take pride in keeping clients out of the press. For the record, I don't call that PR. I call that CS. Chicken Shit.
Granted, these are privately held firms that don't have to answer to a board of directors or shareholders. But they should answer to the communities they were so eager to engage in their big ideas.
After all, many developments require zoning changes and other variances, all a public process. For sure, they have to obtain design approvals from various government entitites. Real estate developers never operate in a vacuum.
Some of them may not be operating at all when all is said and done in this market contraction.
I better be on guard when the next cycle winds up.
A new developer will peddle a bigger and better project like it is a done deal blessed by the heavenly realms.
"What about the financing?" I'll ask right up front. "And, no, I am not your defacto marketing pawn who's going to tell your fascinating story to prospective investors."
In the meantime, I hope the local governments who so willingly acquiesced to the hyperbolic visions of haughty developers will smarten up, too. The city doyens of Tempe, Glendale and Mesa, in particular, have all been sold a bill of goods.
Oh, and by the way, trustees of the public dole, you are accountable, too. Expect my call soon.

1 comment:

  1. As you point out, there is plenty of room to educate businesses about how media/writers and PR reps work--or don't! I cannot believe how often my clients have assumed they will be able to read articles BEFORE they are published. And a recent(prospective) client told me he thought I needed to "get him on some magazine covers" before we officially under way.