ULI Summary: Niche Property Classes

Freezing temperatures and the Urban Land Institute: the two will be forever linked in my memory.

That’s because last Thursday, very possibly the coldest day of my life (it was about 20 degrees below zero), I trekked to the Union League Club to cover a meeting of the Urban Land Institute’s Chicago chapter.

The topic: “Niche Property Classes: Are they faring better than Primary Real Estate Asset Classes?”

For the fourth time in as many months, I learned a wealth of information. When my fingers thawed upon returing to my office, I wrote this summary for the ULI, which touches on some of the insights shared by development experts in the niches of parking garages, medical offices and college housing.

You can also read three prior summaries I’ve written for the Urban Land Institute’s Chicago chapter, “Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2009®,” “The Credit Crisis: How the Collapse of Credit Impacts the Economy and Commercial Real Estate,” and “River North: Past Plans, Future Opportunities.”

Azure Horizons: Good Deed Gets Published

In late October, when Azure Horizons owner Keith Carrizosa (pictured, on the left) hired me to tell the story of his company’s role in donating computers to Roberto Clemente High School in Chicago, we described it as “no good deed shall go unpublished.”

Well, it’s gratifying to know that others agree. In addition to receiving Univision TV treatment last weekend (a segment shot inside Clemente High), the Dec. 4 edition of Extra! newspaper included the story, in both English and Spanish, that recounts Azure Horizons’ effort.

One element that has helped generate media interest were a series of videos that I shot, and which are noted on this Inside Edge PR blog post.

You can read the story on Extra’s web site or by clicking on the image here:

Blog Discipline Breeds PR Benefits

Six months ago, I would advise clients to consider starting a blog. You can show your expertise, I would explain, give your target audience something new to check out, and so forth.

I don’t think anybody heeded my suggestion. Seemed like so much busy work, I’m sure.

At the time, I was “too busy” to get one started myself. My own business didn’t have a blog, so, naturally, my counsel was half-hearted. And when you get right down to it, my recommendation was so much hypocrisy.

Then, in late May, my fantastically creative and talented web designer, Sherri Lasko, blew my cover. She built a gem of a website for Inside Edge: Public Relations & Media Services. On the home page, a link in the upper left corner boldly declared: “Read Matt’s PR Blog.”

Now I was cornered–in that spot I would have to offer something other than “Matt’s sterling PR musings coming soon!”

Today, having surpassed 100 Inside Edge PR blog posts, and more than 100 other blog posts for other clients (both publicly, such as I Do, Doggone It! and as a “ghost” blogger), my half-hearted tone has given way to wholehearted exhortation.

I urge my clients–and anyone else who asks–to join the blogosphere. Not for its own sake, but for the structure it creates for your overall communications strategy (you do have a strategy, don’t you?).

In the process of blog-letyzing (blog prosletyzing), I walk people through some of my own posts, not because I’m so great, but because it allows me to show them how much this blog has developed in that time–and how much more it’s bound to go as I continually refine it.

For one thing, I know how to create helpful links such as this one for Oak Park’s Shop The Village program, one of my current projects.

For another thing, to help attract and retain interest, I now have embedded videos, photographs and other images frequently popping up in this space. (Thanks for telling me candidly that the site was drab, Bridgett.)

The blog also allows an individual to communicate the depth and breadth of his or her organization’s distinctive place in the world. Oh, and it can attract traffic with certain key words, such as Barack Obama, Matt Damon, the Boston Red Sox and Kermit the Frog.

If you’re successful to any degree, you are bound to have so much happening all the time that it’s easy to have significant accomplishments and other newsworthy fodder slip through the cracks.

“I’ll get back to that some time,” you might say. Before you know it, you’ve said that dozens, even hundreds of times, and there’s little chance you’re going to have the time to circle back and adequately chronicle that newsy nugget.

Then, when it comes time to identify story ideas, you stare at a blank piece of paper and wonder where to begin.

If nothing else, a blog helps enforce a regular discipline of noting significant developments in your organization. Through that process, story ideas gush forth naturally.

I’ve seen it happen time and again, most recently the other day with one of my “ghost” blog clients. Because my blogging is behind-the-scenes, I can only offer more detail if you ask me about it 1-on-1.

Now how’s that for a marketing hook?

Related Posts:
Maximize Your Micro-Engagements, Personalize Your Points of Connection
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In Praise Of the Urban Land Institute

I receive zero compensation for sick days and vacation, I pay for my family’s medical insurance out of my own pocket, and my boss–the guy I see in the mirror–often orders me to show up for work before 7 a.m.

But as I approach my 10th anniversary of self-employment, I wouldn’t have it any other way. Among the many reasons is this benefit: the variety of interesting and mind-stretching work that I get to pursue.

A current case in point is the writing I’ve been doing for Urban Land Institute’s Chicago chapter the past few months.

Thanks to a referral from friend and fellow Medillian Ed Finkel, who had previously written for the ULI, I began writing summaries at the organization’s Sept. 25 meeting: “River North: Past Plans, Future Opportunities.”

That debut was followed by a most timely session whose subject was “The Credit Crisis: How the Collapse of Credit Impacts the Economy and Commercial Real Estate.”

Talk about a crash-course!

Most recently, last Thursday, I sat in on the “Emerging Trends in Real Estate 2009” discussion led by ULI consultant Jonathan D. Miller.

For the third straight time, by listening to very bright people use clarity and humor to cut through complex topics, I learned a ton and had the privilege of striving to boil down the discussion in about 1,000 words.

Related Posts:
Cook County Land Bank: Returning Vacant Land to Productive Use
ULI Assignment: J.C. Nichols Prize Luncheon Honoring Chicago Mayor Richard Daley

Read It! Obama: From Promise To Power

It’s a few minutes past 10 p.m. on Election Day, it appears Barack Obama is about to vacate his seat as the junior U.S. Senator from Illinois, and I can only imagine what must be going through the mind of David Mendell.

He’s the author of Obama: From Promise To Power, a thoroughly balanced and thoughtfully written book that was published in August 2007.

In late-January 2008, I was pleased to meet Mendell for the first time, for a pre-arranged interview. At the time, Obama’s campaign was on the ropes and Hillary Clinton appeared to have the inside track on the Democratic nomination for president.

You can see the result of that meeting in a profile that I wrote for the Wednesday Journal of Oak Park & River Forest.

Since that bitterly cold winter night, Mendell and I have kept in touch by e-mail. So it was uncanny timing that, of all days, I’d bump into him this afternoon (almost literally, nearly tapping his parked car as I navigated into a parking spot in downtown Oak Park).

At this moment, as Obama stands at the center of the world’s attention, Mendell must be musing about the many times he was the only one following Obama around, during the early stages of his run for U.S. Senator only five years ago.

To anyone who wants to glean significant insight into our President-elect, and who would be intrigued to come alongside Mendell during those formative times in Obama’s rapid political ascent, I encourage you to dig into Obama: From Promise To Power.

Related Posts:
Obama’s FOIA Move Holds Key PR Lesson
Oak Park’s Own: My Q & A With David Mendell