Residents key to promoting Atlanta development

Minerva Properties and EOS Marketing conducted a campaign to drive awareness of Heron Bay Golf and Country Club, a housing development south of Atlanta.

Client: Heron Bay Golf and Country Club (Locust Grove, GA)
Agency: EOS Marketing and Communications (Atlanta, GA)
Campaign: Promoting Heron Bay from the Inside Out
Duration: April - October 2011
Budget: $6,000

Heron Bay Golf and Country Club is a 2,000-acre housing development south of Atlanta that boasts a variety of community facilities and amenities. Developer Minerva Properties and EOS Marketing, its long-time AOR, conducted a campaign to drive awareness of its benefits.

“We need to get our name out there,” says Stacy Patton, Minerva Properties development manager. “Without [much] money, we needed to identify the Heron Bay lifestyle and why it's unique.”

Strategy
The idea was to let residents tout benefits in local media stories, while the team also pushed messaging through a new website, social media outreach, events, and emails.

“Using PR to get residents in the newspaper talking about why they live at Heron Bay was the best way of identifying the lifestyle and why it's unique,” Patton says.

Tactics
Media tactics included scouring editorial calendars and connecting reporters with Heron Bay residents who could tell personal stories that matched editorial needs.

Real estate, tech, and lifestyle reporters and bloggers were targeted.

“We mostly targeted traditional media because we needed to reach a wide base and we needed the photos – photos really change perceptions,” notes Elyse Hammett, agency EVP of PR.

Milestones, such as the 1,000th home sold, and events, such as the annual “Goblin Gallop” 5K sponsored by Heron Bay in October, were also pitched and promoted online.

Media stories were posted on Facebook and the team instigated conversations and feedback about the coverage.

HeronBayinfo.com, which launched in August, includes information about available homes and amenities and a blog penned by residents, realtors, and the PR team.

Weekly emails highlighting news, events, and residents were sent to prospects throughout the campaign.

Messages were cross-promoted with Canongate, which manages the community's 18-hole golf course.

Results
Patton believes campaigns that educate audiences about Heron Bay's unique qualities impact sales. She says 23 houses have been sold (year to date), and six are under contract.

New blog and email registrations increased from 116 in April to 354 ending October. During the same time frame, website page views increased 83% (from 11,075 to 20,317); visits increased from 3,051 to 3,610; and Facebook likes climbed from 390 to 811.

Seventeen stories (5.4 million impressions) appeared in local outlets.

Run participation was up from 400 in 2010 to 600 this year.

Future
The team is working on 2012 PR plans, which Patton says will likely include increased outreach to real estate agents.

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