Using publishing to optimise real estate projects
 Using publishing to optimise real estate projects
Optimising the potential of large-scale real estate projects is a long-term process which takes skill and detailed strategic planning.
Part of this planning involves engaging with audiences to create an identity and sense of character for a development. This creates buy-in and raises a project's status within the local and global community.
Generally a strategic communications plan is developed which outlines the different stages of the project, from initial planning to final completion and details the messages to be communicated at each stage.
The traditional focus tends to be on:
- Marketing - producing sales messages, placing advertisements.
- PR - communicating with the media, attempting to gain press coverage.
 How publishing can benefit real estate projects
- Publications legitimise developments; they are able to enhance a sense of a project's significance and create a tangible sense of identity.
- Publications enable developments to relate their history and aspirations, communicating complex messages.
- Setbacks and challenges can be shown in publications without losing the overall positive message. This is an extremely effective way of communicating confidence and openness.
- The design of a publication can be a powerful way of enhancing a real estate development's brand.
- There is usually a level of editorial control, the amount depends on the type of publication and the publisher involved.
- People have a personal and intimate connection with publications; they can be powerful place-making tools.
- Publications can communicate core brand values and excitement to new audiences.
- A publications programme enables a client to time the release of particular information at planned times to particular audiences. If a residential development begins by selling off-plan and wishes to attract risk-taking buyers, this can be reflected in an avant-garde book produced to target them. Then later, if for example, families are required, a children's publication can be created.
 What might a publishing portfolio include?
With titles produced at different times through the life of a development, a portfolio is likely to consist of:
- A coffee table book
- A historical and/or cultural study
- A political book
- A high art photographic book
- Children's books, including pop-up, sticker and make-your-own
- Educational books
- A map or guide to the local area
- A guide book for visitors, updated with each new phase of the development
- Show brochures/catalogues on specific events/festivals/launches
- Digital publications including a website.
Large-scale projects generally have a diverse mix of publications produced about them by independent writers and publishers.
If developers actively commission and manage the creation of publications, rather than leaving it to the market to produce them, they can position themselves at the heart of the permanent legacy messages created about the scheme. By having a direct contractual relationship with publishers and editors, the client puts itself in the strongest possible negotiating position to influence the approach taken by books.
Once aware of the developer's plans, the publishing community will be less likely to commission rival (possibly critical or low quality) books because they will be less commercially viable. Exclusivity is a crucial part of any publishing portfolio. A group of books works commercially for a publisher when they occupy a designated and protected sector of the market. Because margins are extremely tight in publishing, maintaining this exclusivity is vitally important when setting up and managing a successful portfolio.
 How is a strategy developed?
The consultant would undertake:
- A market analysis to review existing material and likely trends.
- A gap analysis to review any archive material and map this against material required for the preparation of publications.
- Opportunities for publishing.
- Potential publishing partners and the likely nature of any deals. Exclusivity is important to the commercial viability of every sector.
- Audience groups and potential reach.
- Development budgets.
- Timescales and the optimal sequence for publishing.
The publications consultant would then broker and manage the development of the programme.
 Information management
Publications consultants can also advise large real estate developments on the efficient and cost-effective management of information. The simplest and most efficient route to support and control a communications strategy is often to set up a central information bank. This is a resource which grows with the project, ensuring that the detailed delivery of each stage of the development comes back to the same sources of accurate information. A central archive puts the client in a position to exploit this information as many times, and for as many different purposes as required, without needing to pay licences or negotiate usage with other agencies.
The central information bank is of benefit in the preparation of:
- Strategic documents
- Media briefings
- Information offered to people joining the project
- A website
- Web descriptions of the development (Wikipedia, base reference information for journalists)
- Content used on site tours
- Naming strategies and signage
- The development/design/packaging of licensed products (mugs, posters, models, T-shirts etc)
- Operations documents
At the moment publishing programmes are often overlooked because they are rarely commercially lucrative, take time to establish and require expert management.
However they provide long-term real projects benefits which other media (films, brochures, websites and marketing material) cannot deliver. Publications can help to establish the identity of a real estate project. A publications programme also offers the opportunity to manage messages about a project in terms of audience, timing and reach, as well as beginning the process of establishing a legacy.
This article was created by --Alex Harvie 11:00, 6 July 2013 (BST)
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