Public relations efforts, when coupled with events, offer continuing care and assisted living communities a great vehicle for attracting the senior housing customer and their adult children.
If a senior housing community is under construction, including these marketing strategies on a regular schedule generates a momentum as well as offers ideal opportunities to build waiting lists and forge relationships with new and existing customers. If the community is established, this plays equally well in developing ongoing opportunities for “be-backs”, new traffic and referral relationships.
Success doesn’t necessary need to be measured by an event’s size and attendance or if the media prints a press release. There are many advantages of both public relations and events that justify their time and expense.
Before the doors open to a senior community for residents, there are real estate and business publicity opportunities afforded in both real estate and as business sections of a local newspaper. It just takes a good hook or angle. A suggested measure would be to ask yourself if you would find this information interesting if you read it in the newspaper over morning coffee.
Let’s take a new continuing care (CCRC) or assisted living community during the pre-construction and construction phase. Initial public relations and press releases can be news about:
- Land acquisition
- Planning and zoning approval announcements
- Selection of key consultants such as the architect and interior designer
- Project groundbreaking.
Depending on the community’s size and scope as well as your local newspaper, the press may announce planning and zoning approvals. Preparing and distributing your own press release and fact sheet may help in providing them with additional information and company background.
If you attend the city’s meetings, incorporating a quote from a city official makes the press release more newsworthy. Groundbreaking announcements can include a picture—it can be an event or simply a picture with some key people involved in the project. Quoting senior living experts also adds interest to a press release—these specialists can be your community’s team of consultants as well as industry experts.
You may want to hold back some project details for later press releases rather than give everything away in the groundbreaking press release.
There is also tremendous value in offering a reporter an article with information on how your community is bucking the current real estate climate or is offering something unique in design concepts such as green building and universal design.
Determining the desired result from a groundbreaking event will help in planning. A groundbreaking can be event-oriented or simplified to a photo opportunity. At best, you may be able to begin capturing information from those who express initial interest. Be sure to get names, addresses, telephone numbers and email addresses.
The senior customer is all about relationships and events offer an opportunity to open the door to new customers. Events do not have to be elaborate but they need to appeal to the heart. They should be fun, relevant and memorable.
Ultimately, a customer should be able to tell someone that what they did yesterday was so much fun. If your senior living community is selling lifestyle, events should do so as well.
While lectures on long-term care or estate planning may offer free speakers soliciting new business, we suggest going back to the drawing board for something more creative that matches the community’s brand and customer. A weekly pancake breakfast with Sunday newspapers can be fun at the Welcome Center with sales people doing the cooking.
It’s always important to determine why you are having an event, who you want to attend, what you will do with them while they are there and how follow-up be handled. Successful events follow a plan and keep everyone in the loop—from security and the guard house to construction crews who may have to clean the site.
Every senior housing event offers communication opportunities which have been expanded through social media and the internet. From e-newsletters to YouTube clips, events can be used to cast a bigger net to bring attention to the community and its lifestyle.
Many senior living operators fail to take advantage of their city’s pre-existing events. It’s important to be extremely knowledgeable as to what is going on in your town. Sales people should also be aware as lifestyle selling markets the external as well as the internal community. Attending city events and being seen is good public relations too.
Connecting with potential senior housing consumers doesn’t always mean that the customer comes to you—you may have to go to them as well. Working with resources within your town is much more relevant today.
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