A Glimpse Inside My Contact Book

Another day, another request from property PRs, agents or developers to go on my contact list, so I can quote them or feature their properties in stories.

I say this not as a complaint, because I need the information these people supply - but the sheer growth in their number, seeking editorial coverage, means that most will be ignored most of the time, just because there are never enough stories to use them all.

For example, here are some statistics from my online contacts book:

I now routinely circulate 271 PR contacts directly involved in promoting 91 estate agencies, 29 buying agents, 31 housebuilders and another dozen property consultancies of one kind or another;

In addition, I occasionally circulate 33 other contacts who are buying agents, estate agents, developers or ‘pundits’ who handle their own relations with journalists.

And don’t forget - I don’t write about some aspects of property, like interiors or architecture, so those numbers above could be easily increased further if I wrote on those areas, too. Likewise, I deal almost exclusively in residential property, not commercial, so again the numbers could rise further should I spread my journalistic wings.

In itself this proves nothing, except that people need to do more to make themselves stand out from the rest to draw the attention of journalists in a crowded marketplace - and it is likely to be a busier marketplace if, as I believe to be happening, advertising improves a little, and the online and print property publications get a little fatter in the next few weeks.

‘Standing out’ does not mean increasingly eccentric or weird angles (although sometimes that does, of course, create a story). But it often means providing solid research to back up statements. Last week’s debate over the mansion tax was a good case in point.

Over seven days I received 21 emailed press releases from different property agents or pundits, all about the possible Coalition government mansion tax - all criticising it. Six of the releases even had a roughly similar intro (criticising Vince Cable and estimating the value of his home).

Most property journalists will have received the same releases, yet my survey of the press shows only a few were ever used, because they backed up their opposition with solid research (Savills and Knight Frank were the most used, predictably, for this very reason).

So if sometimes the same old names and voices appear, despite the plethora of people willing to comment, that may be the explanation.

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