In a sector that directly impacts economic growth and societal wellbeing, and a growing focus on best practice and tenant engagement, it’s more important than ever for social housing landlords to embrace digital PR.
These organisations often share personal, moving stories, meant to build awareness, mobilise support and advocate for change. They’re on the frontline of community developments, working with the education, health, and employment sectors to have a positive impact.
They bring together individuals from different backgrounds, income levels, and life experiences to build stronger community bonds.
“Take the Housing First” campaign for example, an international initiative aimed at addressing homelessness by providing stable, permanent housing without preconditions. The campaign focused on dispelling myths, highlighting success stories of individuals who have benefited from the programme, and calling for increased investment in affordable housing.
The ‘Fix the Housing Crisis’ campaign addressed the growing shortage of affordable housing, pushing for policy changes, petition drives, collaboration with housing activists, and mobilising public support.
These are important issues that directly impact how people live their lives, and the future of our society. Strategic communications can mean the difference between successful community-change, and an erupting scandal.
Maintain your reputation
Discussing sensitive topics, government policies, and life-altering services, will always leave room for negative responses. It’s the nature of the game! Be equipped with the tools and platforms you need to effectively manage and respond to a crisis (big or small).
Digital PR facilitates real-time communication, allowing you to build trust, create a sense of community, and offer the chance to be open and transparent with both tenants and stakeholders.
Extend your reach
The end goal is to get your messages in front of as many eyeballs as possible, so your campaign has real, long-lasting social impact. Digital PR helps you to tap into already engaged audiences within your target demographic, that you may have missed through traditional channels.
But where should your social housing organisation start when looking into digital PR (besides giving us a call, of course…)
Make your content engaging
Develop informative content that stands out in the housing space. You can start by highlighting important initiatives, tenant stories, community events and educational resources – but make it different, stray from the well beaten path, and lead with emotion.
Active online presence
For your communications to have a meaningful impact, you’re going to have to nurture your social media accounts. It’s not enough to drop in only when you have big news, start engaging with tenants, addressing concerns head on, sharing updates and progress as it’s happening (not months later), and showcase your community’s success stories. Become the one to watch – and the landlord that truly, openly, cares.
A common misconception is that just because you have a story that means something to you, and that you find interesting, journalists will automatically pick it up. Unfortunately, it’s the opposite. It’s important to build relationships with bloggers, influencers, reporters, and key players at press houses. Engage with them well before sending your press release, editorial piece, or story. Read their work, and celebrate it. No one likes a one-sided relationship!
Don’t be data-shy
Use statistics and visual storytelling to bring your point alive. And, keep checking in with how your work is performing, who’s listening and engaging, and use that to your advantage. You’ll be able to identify what’s working, and more importantly, what’s not. A story isn’t static, it changes, grows and evolves. Don’t just post and move on – stay on top of your data.
Pair that with how cost-effective digital PR can be, versus traditional channels, in a sector that needs to maintain a reasonable budget – the argument for a digital PR strategy in social housing becomes clear.
So, before you dive into your next press piece, make sure to check these off your list:
- Define clear goals and objectives – your KPIs should be relevant to your overarching aim
- Conduct regular social listening to understand the needs, concerns, and sentiment of your target audience
- Develop a consistent brand voice and messaging that aligns with your organisation’s values and mission
- Collaborate with internal stakeholders to ensure a unified approach
- Stay up to date on the latest digital trends and technologies to maximise the effectiveness of your strategies
And, whatever you do, don’t forget the marketing – your digital PR efforts should work in synergy with other digital efforts, like SEO, content, and social media, creating a cohesive and comprehensive approach to maximise your brand exposure to create real change in communities.
Check out our Future Matters campaign with social housing landlord ForHousing, empowering tenants and communities to learn more about decarbonisation and sustainability, to make positive change in their own neighbourhoods.