Do you know good communication when you see it?

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Most of us know good communication when we see it, so says Fiona Mannion, head of communications at the Crown Estate, who spoke at a recent Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR) event about how the Crown Estate approaches its public relations. The crux of it that being good at business is no longer enough, a company must also have personality, purpose and stand for something. It must inspire trust.

Sophie EastwoodWe are in a world where reputation increasingly drives the behaviour of a business, rather than the other way around. Expectations are getting higher and people want to see that companies are responsible and acting in a way that proves they care about the people they serve and the wider planet we live in. We’re also all now prepared to take the time to scrutinise, researching the opinions of others before we formulate our view.

This move for businesses to prove benefit at a societal level spans every industry – and real estate is no exception. You may have read my last blog, which talked about the increasing importance of measuring positive social impact in the property sector, evidenced by the changing emphasis of awards and media in our industry. This is all part of the shift to property as a force for good.

It’s an important repositioning for our industry and its reputation. It’s also an interesting extension to the role of the corporate communications advisor. Having a basic comms function is no longer enough. Responsible business, governance, transparency and fairness all now come into play as well as engaging with everyone who is touched by a business and its work.

PR is one essential part of this mix but interestingly, a recent survey of executives found that almost two in 10 didn’t know what PR stands for, assuming the ‘P’ is for press or publicity. I’m reminded of a definition I was given when I did my CIPR diploma all those years ago – it hasn’t changed, only how employ it:

Public Relations is about reputation the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you. Public Relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.

In the real estate sector we have the power to make people’s lives better and we need to better embrace this privilege, communicating our success in terms of human, social, intellectual, environmental as well as financial capital.  We need to be able to tell our stories better, framing successes in a business and wider society context.

This is the mark of good communications – you’ll know it when you see it! It’s also how we’ll inspire each other, our teams and the lives we touch.