PRWeek: What is PR's role at Century 21? What messages are you trying to get out?
Tom Kunz: Our PR group [focuses] on our franchisees, getting communications out to them [about] what Century 21 is doing. That's also directed to our sales agents.
We're dealing with a consumer who is hearing a lot of national news... about people losing their jobs and home prices falling. It's factual information, but... real estate is really localized.
We need to start doing more education to the [local] consumer. Most of our PR [stresses that] you need to... understand what's going on nationally... but also get a professional realtor and find out what your situation is in your local marketplace and how you can take advantage of what's going on in the real-estate business today.
PRWeek: How have your PR efforts changed because of the economic upheaval in the real-estate industry?
Kunz: [Around] the end of last year, we made a change in directing all our TV spend to interactive media. Since [then]... we've gone forward with our social media platforms, C21 Communities, and a partnership with Realtor.com. We've started to get involved with Facebook and Twitter. We're following the consumer, which is what we did when we went into TV.
PRWeek: What are the communications priorities within the company?
Kunz: We have C21 talk radio [which is both internal and external], which gives me the opportunity to get our message out to our sales force and their brokers. PR Studio, which is on our Intranet site... helps [our people] understand that you need to talk to the [local] press and the kinds of things you need to focus on.
We also run media training for brokers and agents so they understand how to deal with, and answer, reporters in their local marketplace.