PR Tip: Even When You Don’t Have a Lot, Work With What You’ve Got

Driving past a Berwyn condominium development recently, the banner draped in front of the building made a simple declaration: “New Pricing!”

I flashed back to more than four years ago, when a similarly simple phrase was behind a public relations and marketing effort to spark more sales at the development known as Century Station: “work with what you’ve got.”

At the time, I was engaged by a real estate agency to help turn what had begun as lemonade but had quickly soured into a lemon in the wake of the global financial crisis that reached a boiling point in Fall 2008.

After a significant number of people indicated plans to buy a condo at the development, they took the path traveled by so many others all across the United States: they backed out.

As a result, Century Station had a grand population of one.

There’s little, if any, value in bemoaning what you don’t have. If you have a dozen eggs, and 11 shatter, then it’s best to focus on the one that is intact than dwell on that short-lived era when you had 12.

In the case of Century Station, the course of action was clear: work with what—or, in this case, who—we’ve got. We proceeded to do our darnedest to tell the story of that one individual, a retired businessman whose experience was like a college kid who shows up at his dormitory but soon sees that nobody else has enrolled in classes.

The news release cast the man as the model of one type of buyer that the developer and real estate agency were seeking—a longtime area resident who never imagined residing in Berwyn, but was attracted by the solid quality of construction and design in his unit and the building overall.

The release also quoted local officials and the key real estate players, described amenities ranging from private balconies to customer kitchens with granite countertops, and, to underscore the location’s convenience, recounted some of the nearby businesses where the resident had shopped.

We didn’t just throw up our hands and say that we needed more sales to occur before telling the development’s story. Instead, we told the development’s story, through this one individual’s experience, in an effort to spark sales.

Sometimes, the news isn’t that the cup is 11/12ths empty, but that it’s 1/12th full. As publicists and marketers, it’s our challenge and reward to extract as much as possible out of whatever measure we have on hand.

So if you are having a hard time seeing the path to promoting an individual, an organization or a cause of some kind, remember the first step: work with what you’ve got.

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