The University of Southern California Lusk Center for Real Estate comprises many of the world’s foremost real estate economists and educators. Its mission is to advance real estate knowledge, inform business practice, and address timely issues that affect the real estate industry, the urban economy, and public policy. Among the center’s frequent research offerings is the Casden Multifamily Forecast, which measures average rents and apartment vacancies across Southern California.
THO identified that the forecast was simply not reaching the right audience. THO decided to establish the actual forecast itself as a thought leader and information source for not only real estate professionals, but also the larger Southern California population.
THO reimagined the Casden Forecast’s media materials to sharpen their focus and apply the data and forecast models to the current affordable housing crisis in Southern California. During this particular year, THO identified that each of the regions analyzed – Los Angeles County, Orange County, Ventura County, San Diego County and the Inland Empire – could expect triple-digit increases in monthly apartment rents over the following two years. The real story became one of affordability – a true departure from the days when media coverage focused on the data’s impact on developers and practitioners.
THO’s plan focused on meeting the following objectives:
- Work closely with Casden Multifamily Forecast authors to identify news angles specifically related to affordable housing;
- Identify and target reporters and editors who provide fair and objective coverage of the affordable housing shortage in Southern California; and
- Engage in an intensive media relations program to communicate with key targets in the weeks leading up to the Casden Forecast’s release.
THO’s campaign resulted in nearly 50 media placements with national and local print and broadcast media, as well as real estate and other trade publications.
On day one of the forecast’s unveiling, the USC Lusk Center was supported by coverage in the Los Angeles Times, San Diego Union-Tribune, Orange County Register, and dozens of other high-profile print publications; every local television station, including KABC, KCBS, KTLA and KNBC; multiple 24-hour news radio stations and National Public Radio affiliates; and, of course, dozens of real estate trade outlets.
Any important news item requires a thorough and fastidious assessment of which of its elements are most compelling and most impactful. Creating a strategic plan that ensures the news item hits the marketplace in a way that supports an organization’s goals while making forward progress is paramount.
In this case, THO identified the high value of the Casden Forecast’s impact on renters, and created a larger – and more national-centric – news story on how affordable housing dictates movement within the broader Southern California marketplace.