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PR critical tool in difficult times.

The key word in 1993 is "hopeful." That's how I would describe most of the indicators that have surfaced during the first half of this year. For example:

* The city now appears to be strongly supporting many programs and issues that are critical to the health of the real estate industry and the revitalization of the marketplace

* The Real Estate Board New York recently won a major victory on reforms relating to the 10 percent state gains tax

* Sales activity is once again very strong at the high end of the luxury residential marketplace

* Many sectors of the New York office market are firming, with space being absorbed and rents starting to rise

Still we have a long way to go and many challenges ahead before the Manhattan real estate market rebounds back to its former vitality. Interestingly, it is during these difficult periods that public relations can be put to its best and most effective use in marketing commercial space and selling residential units.

A successful public relations program can accomplish several objectives. It can enable developers and owners to communicate their strengths to the real estate community, to potential tenants and to the general public, while heightening public awareness of specific projects and accelerating sales and leasing.

In a slow market, those companies which maintain a sophisticated and targeted public relations program to spread the word about themselves and their successful projects are able to develop and maintain their visibility, and are often the first to be approached with proposals for new business activity.

A strategic public relations program can also play a major role in raising a firm's or project's profile in the financial community, to help ensure that sources of financing remain available and that specific developments thrive.

Against the backdrop of daily newspaper accounts of billions lost through defaulted real estate loans, many lenders and investors today are leery of real estate ventures. Some of this trepidation can be countered, however, if the financial community receives a steady stream of positive messages reflecting the skills and abilities of specific owners or developers. In this way, public relations can play a key role in obtaining capital in a "credit crunch" environment.

"Flight to quality" is the traditional response in the real estate market during "soft" periods. There are a number of reasons for this trend, including competitive pricing pressures. But just as important is the marketplace's perception of a project or development based on its, or its owner's, reputation. Tenants and buyers choose projects and buildings that they believe represent the best value, based on their perception of management, location, prestige, amenities and long-term stability offered. Public relations, therefore, can have a dramatic effect on which concerns are considered the "quality" players.

Finally, maintaining high visibility positions a firm for greater activity once the market picks up. Successful public relations in tough times depends upon taking the long-term view, anticipating market trends and preparing for the eventful resurgence of market activity.

Indeed, those companies and properties which carefully develop and implement communications strategies that respond to weak market conditions can expect to attract the lion's share of business, not only in the current climate, but also during the progressive stages of recovery.
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Title Annotation:Mid-Year Review & Forecast, Section III; public relations useful for marketing commercial space and selling residential units
Author:Rubenstein, Howard J.
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Article Type:Column
Date:Jun 23, 1993
Previous Article:'93 market has opportunities, no surprises.
Next Article:Five hot areas for real estate investment.

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