Organizations: National Multi Housing Council and National Apartment Association (Washington, DC)
Campaign: Apartments. We Live Here.
Duration: February 12 to March 31
Budget: about $100,000
The National Multi Housing Council (NMHC) represents apartment owners, managers, developers, lenders, and service providers. Earlier this year, NMHC and the National Apartment Association (NAA), a national federation of state and local apartment associations, launched a campaign to increase awareness among policymakers of the apartment industry's economic impact.
“After the housing collapse people are thinking differently about housing overall and the role rental properties play in the economy,” says NMHC's PR director Jim Lapides. “The apartment industry didn't over-build and face the same collapse that the single-family housing sector did. The apartment industry is a strong, important part of the housing market, and it was time for us to tell that story. We've partnered with NAA for more than 20 years on federal-level advocacy for the entire apartment industry, but this was the first comprehensive PR campaign we've done together.”
The organizations worked with George Mason University economist Stephen Fuller to create a report detailing the economic impact apartments bring to communities nationwide.
Lapides says policymakers are inundated with job-creation messaging and using a consumer marketing approach that focused on delivering information through earned coverage and www.weareapartments.org helped engage them.
Trade, business, finance, and real estate reporters and bloggers were targeted in 12 markets that have large apartment footprints and are home to key members of Congress. Localized economic information for each market was pitched. Local NAA affiliates helped with outreach in the 12 markets. National outlets were also targeted.
Messaging drove audiences to www.weareapartments.org, which houses research findings, an economic impact calculator, and state-by-state data.
“A lot of policy discussions are happening in city council meetings, and the calculator can really help a mayor or city council member who is considering an apartment development,” Lapides explains.
The campaign was also promoted on NMHC's social media pages and on NAA's national and local affiliates' social media pages.
Between February 12 and March 31, the website got 5,000 visits, 14,300 page views, and the calculator was used 2,100 times. By mid-June, those numbers increased to 22,000 visits, 44,000 page views, and 5,000 calculator uses.
Facebook and Twitter were among the top five referrers of website traffic through May 31.
More than 150 stories ran in all 12 markets in outlets such as The Washington Post, New York Daily News, and Dallas Morning News.
The campaign will continue with a focus on telling stories related to the economic impact data.