Most property companies produce a lot of research information and Savills rural team is no exception. The Rural Energy and Projects (REP) division of Savills has major forward-looking thought leadership programmes but it also achieves integrated marketing communications programmes for its many data-driven research reports. Developing and delivering these integrated campaigns requires careful collaboration between the division’s research, PR, marketing, business development and practitioner teams across the UK.
The Savills (REP) division is the fourth largest within Savills UK business employing around 900 people located in 37 of the company’s 139 UK and Channel Islands offices.
Louise Rose, a former agricultural journalist who has been the division’s PR Director for many years, explains how their campaign process works by taking a recent report looking at the GB Farmland Market as an example.
“After a number of years producing and promoting this important benchmark report, we have refined the campaign planning and development process to achieve a fast turnaround and high levels of engagement both internally and externally. Looking at the most recent campaign, the main components and time line were as follows:
Content and campaign planning
- Half way through December 2018 the researchers, PR and marketing folk sat down for an initial content meeting. We reviewed the breadth of the latest research information and focused in on the most newsworthy elements as well as those of most potential interest to our various client segments – investors, owners and occupiers of farmland property.
- Key messages included:
- Muted average value growth and significant price variations characterised the market
- 189,000 acres of farmland in Great Britain were marketed during 2018 compared with 152,500 acres in 2017; an increase of 24%
- The average value of all types of farmland in Great Britain fell by -1.8% to £6,700 per acre. The average value of prime arable land fell by -2.0% to £8,760 per acre.
- Farmers represent around 45% of all buyers, with 85% buying to expand current operations. Around half of buyers are private non-farming/lifestyle purchasers, who cite a variety of reasons for buying
- We also discussed what we could generate in the way of new original content, which could be illustrated graphically and came up with how land use in GB might change by 2050.
- Once the content was agreed the research team drafted the changes and then it was reviewed by me and the key business stakeholders. We then worked with our contract publishers in terms of agreeing graphics and headlines.
- Our timelines were revised in view of the impending Christmas break. In mid-January, with the relevant editorial adjustments to the content having been made, the research report was signed off and sent to print. This was the fastest turnaround we had ever achieved.
National media relations
- A press release, report summary and copy of the finished report were sent to national media contacts. The press team made calls to the key journalists to identify particular topics of interest and organise interviews with researchers, agents and surveyors.
- At the same time, we organised a podcast recording session where our head of research – Emily Norton and our leading expert – Charles Dudgeon FRICS who is head of the farm agency team and based in Scotland – were interviewed.
- The podcast was recorded nearby and is one of the new series of Savills Real Estate insights which are all available on the website or via iTunes. This was the division’s first external facing podcast with another three planned for the year. As a division with people spread all over the country we have led the way in using internal podcasts as a means of communicating business updates and these are well received.
Web site and internal communications
- The press release, blogs and the research report, which is broken down into a series of stories, were uploaded onto the Savills web site and indexed appropriately with the relevant SEO terms. Teams were encouraged to share links to these reports on their LinkedIn pages and the key headlines were also tweeted via the relevant Savills handles.
- The report, podcast and summaries were added to the Savills intranet which is called Connect. There is also a weekly summary of news published on Connect which is distributed on a Friday and is well read.
- All relevant members of the division were sent an email containing summaries of the report and links to the full report and the podcast. An example email – including tailored e-signatures with links – was provided so that surveyors and agents could send the report out to their most important clients, referrers and contacts.
Regional seminars and events
- The regional marketing and business development teams co-ordinated the emailing campaign within their territories – providing invitations and links with the locally organised seminars, breakfast briefings and client meetings. Members of the research team often attended these to present the research angle to complement the relevant agent commentary.
External collaboration and sponsorship
- A report summary and relevant links were incorporated into a regular Farmers Weekly email newsletter which is sent to 30,000 recipients. This ensured that the research reached way beyond the existing clients and contacts of Savills.
Regional media relations
- Press releases were adapted and regional spokespeople briefed as a campaign to engage with and obtain coverage of the report within key regional media whether news, business, agricultural or consumer.
Blogs and social media
- At the end of January 2019, blogs on different aspects of the report were produced and circulated across the business. These were uploaded onto the Savills web site. All agency staff were also provided with guidance on how to promote the relevant blogs through their LinkedIn profiles”
The material is emailed to some 15,000 clients, contacts and targets with many more individuals via the Farmers Weekly newsletter, the blog, website and social. There are probably around a dozen events where the farmland market is one of the topics discussed. We receive business leads from events and often these are for other sectors of the Savills UK business.
The campaign is just one of the 12 campaigns that Louise and her team of five regional rural PR people manage each year.
More information on the farmland market campaign can be seen here: https://www.savills.co.uk/research_articles/229130/274008-0
Other property marketing case studies: