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Andrew Barber

Property journalist speaks: “Please don't send me any more Proptech press releases!”

You know that something strange is happening when a journalist, who writes exclusively about real estate for a global title, tells you they are tired of receiving news releases about Proptech!

While it was said with good humour, a smile on their face and more than a hint of irony, this is exactly what happened to me in the London Pavillion at Mipim 2018.

During our conversation it became apparent that the real problem was that they had been bombarded with news releases and stories about Initial Coin Offerings and how websites, apps and platforms involving blockchain technology were going to change the world - a relatively unproven technology within the real estate sector that is still in its infancy. Additionally, many of these releases were full of jargon and tech speak - talking about technology from a technologist's point of view.

The problem is that many technology businesses, and those from a technology background, are used to talking to other technology professionals in terms that they both understand. In the same way that many property professionals write in ‘surveyor speak’ (a mix of real estate terms and legalese) technologists write and communicate using jargon, acronyms and TLAs (Three Letter Abbreviations). While these may make sense to other industry insiders, all too often they have no meaning to property professionals or journalists writing about real estate and important messages can be lost in translation.

Here’s some of my favourite examples of phrases used in genuine news releases about technology (#GuiltyPleasure):

“a proof-of-concept study using Container-Native Storage paired for Red Hat OpenShift Container Platform to run both an IO-intensive database-only workload and a CPU-intensive, full-web app LAMP stack workload.”

“a customizable DevOps (CI/CD) and Toolchain Orchestration framework for both mainframe and distributed environments.”

“implementation approaches, built upon best-practice experiences, knowledge assets, and sound change management.”

“leading continuous accounting and finance automation software solutions”

Now I am sure that the techy news releases I took these quotes from will be of interest to certain publications and niche interest websites, but if I gave press release to EG, Property Week or CoStar that talked about “Container-native storage, paired for red hat openshift container platforms” - I wouldn’t be expecting much coverage. I’m not sure that such content would do much for a website’s search engine performance either.

The biggest challenge to Proptech businesses in getting exposure in the property trade publications, on relevant websites or within the real estate columns of national and international newspapers is that such titles like to know who is buying, selling, building or occupying assets, how big they are and what the cost, profit or loss was. What they are not interested in is “powerful database administration tools” or “self-sustainable decentralized ecosystems with a built-in Proof of Work (PoW) incentive mechanisms.”

However, if such technical innovations form part of a Proptech platform, app or website and can help Proptech businesses shed light onto what the real estate market is doing, then they will have an edge over their competitors and, with the right strategy, be more successful in getting exposure in the target media.

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