While pandemic pressures have influenced how we live, spend our free time and allocate our money, one thing remains constant: the power of place. For all the convenience of shopping online and the welcome utility of new digital tools that help us stay connected, there is growing recognition that physical environments – specifically, the experiences and engagement that take place there and around them – are vital. social and business drivers.
Large, interactive retail communities remain not only relevant, but essential. But in the changing landscape of these environments, how do projects stand out from the competition? How do developers, owners and operators elevate spaces and places in the public consciousness, make destinations valued community and/or regional resources, and build strong and lasting connections with consumers?
Public Relations Opportunities
Consumer priorities and perspectives may change, but creative marketing and public relations continue to be an effective way to build awareness, increase relevance, and drive traffic.
From pre-construction political and community engagement, to leasing support, to developing milestones and big opening moments, to visioning and implementing a cadence regular special events and creative activations, the role of marketing and public relations in the success of the project is extremely influential. The right PR team and plan will leverage a stage-driven approach as part of a long-term strategy to maintain a relevant and successful retail environment throughout the year, and not just between Thanksgiving and Christmas.
A journey, not an event
Impactful and enduring retail PR is a journey, not an event. A shared operational ingredient for virtually all retail and mixed-use projects that achieve lasting success is their focus on changing their environments. This includes physical upgrades, as well as exciting new tenants and activations. The PR team’s job is to create engaging and proactive messages and moments – and amplify them across multiple channels to ensure the project remains a priority.
A milestone-driven approach is an effective way to achieve this, generating consistent, market-driven media visibility with creative on-field activations and engineered media moments. These milestones extend well beyond groundbreakings, grand openings and new tenant announcements. The secret is to highlight the full lifecycle of a retail and mixed-use destination: create your own milestones and magnets and give people reason to get excited about what’s happening in your center.
For example, The Avenue Peachtree City, an outdoor lifestyle mall run by Poag Shopping Centers in Peachtree City, Georgia, outside of Atlanta, finds unique ways to celebrate the holidays with a different twist. Like “Galentine’s Day” and Noon-Year’s Eve, a family-friendly alternative to NYE with a midday confetti cannon countdown, fizzy cider toast, live music, face paint and more. The magic and true differentiation comes from timely, responsive and engaging memorable moments. These require creativity, thought, brainstorming, collaboration and planning. Point-in-time activations will gain momentary awareness – creative and strategic milestones that build on each other will achieve longer-term goals.
keep it interesting
Whether you are a national top 10 center, an energy center, a community center anchored in a grocery store, or a multi-family or mixed-use development, the formula and the opportunities are the same. You don’t need a top 20 national center to do cool stuff – you just need to do cool stuff. Green Oak Village Place, a former the downtown neighborhood in the Detroit suburb of Brighton, Michigan does it with a creative twist on the holidays with events like the annual Boo Fest, a Halloween celebration that recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, as well as weekly social media giveaways with low barrier to entry.
Creative spaces, activities and events attract attention in local markets and attract attention in national media. The iconic Easton Town Center in Columbus, Ohio was recently featured in The New York Times, not for its decades of commercial success, but for the way it transformed an unoccupied retail space into a gathering place. flexible open-concept exterior: first as Prosecco Plaza in the summer, then as an après-ski lodge-inspired concept in the winter. The common denominator is creativity and amplification: they attract attention, attendance and accolades.
Create the story
Finally, remember that good public relations is not just about the story you tell, but how you tell it. The recent announcement of Target’s return to the city of Detroit after more than 20 years of absence as the 32,000 square foot first floor anchor for the mixed-use City Club Apartments project is a prime example. . The announcement’s rollout plan focused more on the overall City Club Apartments mixed-use community instead of providing specific retailer details. The announcement, which garnered national attention, achieved the goals of all parties involved.
This formula for public relations success is not specific to any particular type of project. Because ultimately, good retail and mixed-use PR is less about amenities and more about communities, and less about the project and more about the people who visit and the experiences that resonate long after those visits end. . SCB
—Mark Winter is President and Founding Partner of Identity, a full-service Detroit-based public relations, marketing and creative agency that has specialized in the commercial real estate industry for over 20 years.