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Brand & Reputation Protection

December 01, 2023

Bolstering your Property Management Brand

According to surveys, 70% to 75% renters do look for reviews of a landlord or property on Google or Bing.

When they do, they get an eyeful of bad comments and claims. Just check Google News for landlords, property managers, or HOAs, and the reports are unbelievably negative. It could be much of this is fueled by unaffordable rent prices. Resentment broods.

The issue is the damage to your critically important company reputation — which is a key part of your business value proposition and future revenues.

It Can Come out of Nowhere

Many landlords ran into a flurry of complaints and 20 major lawsuits when RealPage was charged with price-fixing software. It was a major news story.  It harmed many landlords and property management companies which used their rent pricing solution.

Small to mid-sized landlords have to be on guard today for malcontent tenants and politicians looking to inflict trouble.

All in all, there are two bad outcomes for your firm: (1) you lose rental prospects that you may have paid dearly for via ppc campaigns or via the vacancy listing portals, and (2) your company value proposition is diminished.

Collectively, on Google or Facebook, it’s a persistent, always-on, PR nightmare for all property owners and managers. A point to make about online reviews, including the new landlord review websites, is that you don’t have control over what’s said and believed.

How does Online News Affect Prospect Tenants/HOA members?

When news stories abound daily about rent prices, or tenants freezing in apartments, or not being able to install air conditioners in their apartments during scorching hot weather, or HOAs not allowing residents to be able to live a normal life, prospects renters/homebuyers are scared off, perhaps permanently.  Others feed off of the negativity.

Proactive Brand Protection

A strong brand is a wonderful thing, however false accusations, slander, and getting trashed by angry residents/members can bring your image down with social posts.

A well-conceived communications program can help you get the right messaging out on a frequent basis, about the fairness, integrity and compassion you use in your business affairs.

Your tenant portal, property management website, and community involvement can help deter unfair claims or media portrayals of events. If your marketing and communications clearly shows your integrity and fairness, the media may decide to be fair as well. They will contact you for your side of things and this is where preparation is helpful.

The matter of creating a public relations strategy and brand positioning campaign is the subject of another post. Right now, we’re looking for practical ways you can avoid damaging incidents with tenants/members and respond to news media inquiries, claims, and accusations.

11 Ways to Protection Your Company Reputation

Use these points to protect your company reputation from harm:

  1. Monitor Social Media and News Mentions: Regularly monitor news outlets, social media platforms, and online forums for any discussions or news related to your properties or management services.
  2. Establish a Positive Online Presence: Develop and maintain a strong online presence through a professional website and active social media accounts. Share positive stories, tenant comments/endorsements, staff activity, community events, and association updates to counterbalance any negative news.
  3. Transparency and Open Communication: Foster transparency in your communications. Clearly communicate policies, procedures, and any changes that may impact tenants. Open and honest communication can build trust and reduce the likelihood of negative surprises.
  4. Respond Promptly and Professionally: Address negative news or reviews promptly and professionally. Avoid being defensive and instead focus on facts, providing solutions and addressing concerns. Timely responses show that you are actively engaged and concerned about your tenants’ and clients’ experiences and doing your best.
  5. Implement Strong Communication and Education Strategies: Proactively communicate with tenants, homeowners, and other stakeholders. Regular newsletters, blog updates, and tenant portal can help keep everyone informed about changes, improvements, and positive developments. Educate tenants about your property management processes, expectations, and the channels available for addressing concerns. A well-informed tenant is less likely to be surprised or frustrated.
  6. Encourage Positive Reviews: Encourage satisfied tenants and homeowners to leave positive reviews on social media or blog posts. Positive testimonials counterbalance negative posts and support your brand of integrity, fairness, and customer support.
  7. Highlight Positive Aspects: Engage with blogs and videos. Showcase positive aspects of your properties, such as amenities, maintenance efforts, and community engagement and how approachable and conscientious your staff are.
  8. Address Issues Internally: Take internal steps to address any issues that may be contributing to negative news, before it gets spilled to social media or local news media. This means responding with urgency to problem tenants, events and issues, and perhaps updating policies or service levels, or enhancing customer service training for staff.
  9. Educate Stakeholders: Provide information to tenants, association members and homeowners about the challenges in property management. This helps to keep expectations realistic (controlling the context) to reduce misunderstandings and to nullify unfair claims and accusations.
  10. Collaborate with Local Media: Establish relationships with local media outlets to share positive stories about your properties and community involvement. This proactive approach can help shape public perception.
  11. Community Involvement: Get active in community events, charity initiatives, and neighborhood improvement projects. Positive community involvement helps build a favorable reputation and keeps everyone in a positive frame of mind.

Public relations management may not be your strong suit, but its weakness is something bad tenants and others can prey upon. Build your property management company brand for your target audiences, which may have to include the media and the general public. Because negative news can affect your lead pipeline and unit leasing.

A bad reputation can become sticky, even if you don’t know it’s happening. Be mindful of the community voice and signs that someone is spreading malicious information. Being ready to resolve bad news and bad vibes is an important business skill. Use the reputation management tips above and you create happier tenants and association members, while building a brand that everyone wants to be associated with.

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