By Barbara Corcoran | LinkedIn
In the summer of 1981, The Corcoran Group was a tiny company in the big bad world of New York City real estate. Despite the money I spent every month on advertising to build our brand, the giant companies were always quoted on TV and in print whenever there was a story on real estate. I was jealous every time – until, that is, I decided to take matters into my own hands and publish “The Corcoran Report.”
I didn’t have a lot to go on, just the eleven sales our agents had closed over the past six months. Still, I added up all the sales, divided by 11, and came up with $254,232. I rounded the figure to $254,000 and labeled it “average New York City apartment price,” then made sixty Xerox copies. I named it “The Corcoran Report” and mailed it to every reporter who had written an article in that day’s edition of the New York Times. I even included sportswriters, figuring that one of them might know somebody really rich, like Joe Namath, who might be looking to buy a swanky apartment.
The following Sunday the lead story in the New York Times’ well-read real estate section announced: “Study Shows Co-Op Prices Nearly Quintupled,”and the article began with the miracle line, “According to Barbara Corcoran, president of The Corcoran Group real estate company, the average price of apartments in New York City … has reached an all-time high of $254,000.”
That first “Corcoran Report” put our little company smack in the middle of the New York real estate game, and within the week our agents no longer needed to introduce our company to prospective clients – instead they were fielding calls from buyers and sellers who had already read about us in the news. The Corcoran Group had instant credibility! I published “The Corcoran Report” every six months for the next 20 years, generating tens of millions of dollars of free publicity for my growing company, and with our new found notoriety we grew to be the biggest residential brokerage firm in New York City. No amount of expensive advertising could have bought us that credibility, and it didn’t cost a dime.
Later, in the mid 90s, the Corcoran Group had no celebrities on our client roster, but did have plenty of mounting debt due to the falling market. When I read in the New York Post that Madonna was pregnant with her first child, I seized the moment and banged out a short list of what Madonna might be looking for if she were shopping for a new apartment. I named it “The Madonna Report.” Any Tom, Dick or Harry could have written the laundry list, which included the usual doorman services, a nice view, and more space for her growing family. I sent out that report to every producer in charge of the 11 o’clock news which landed me at CBS studios that night on the back of Madonna’s notoriety. I was shocked when the news anchor confidently introduced me as “Barbara Corcoran, broker to the stars!” I never got Madonna as my client, but I did get Richard Gere as our very first celebrity client when his agent called asking if I could fit Gere into my schedule! Getting Gere was a direct result of “The Madonna Report,” and over the next dozen years our company became the broker to almost every big star moving to New York City.
Here’s what I learned. Reporters always need good stories and the statistics to back them up. The best way to get media attention is to provide them with a report chock full of statistics. You’ll be surprised how much you actually know about your industry and take for granted once you start putting the statistical details down on paper. Over the years we published reports on what’s selling and why, who’s buying and where, and how much home prices are going up or down. Rarely was any report longer than a page, and that’s all that’s ever needed. If you put the information together in a short, easy to read format, publish it consistently and name it after yourself, reporters will be banging down your door every time they need an expert quote. The easiest way to steal market share from your competitors is to steal the limelight, and nothing can make you the industry leader faster than being quoted regularly in the press.
Barbara Corcoran is an entrepreneur, a Shark on ABC's hit TV show, Shark Tank, and the author of "Shark Tales: How I Turned $1,000 into a Billion Dollar Business."