For anyone not familiar with the New York City apartment-rental scene. . . I assure you it is a beast like no other. If you’re looking for an apartment for August 1, you do not begin your search until mid-June. And even then, many brokers will tell you to contact them again on July 1 when they will have a better idea of what’s available for August. But that’s not even the fun part... when you find the place you think you want to call home, you have less than 24 hours to make up your mind. Sleep does not come easily in those 24 hours. I speak from recent experience. . . which is hopefully ending soon with an application and credit check currently underway.
Just as I had to snap up my soon-to-be-new apartment before someone else took it (it’s priced well under market value and the broker had several people lined up to see it); so too must PR pros and their clients act fast when opportunity comes knocking. Decisions have to be made quickly; which is why knowing what you want and understanding the landscape are critical to establish from the beginning.
You have to know what you’re looking for. I had a location, price range and a few other factors on my “wish list” to share with brokers at the start of the search, so when I found the apartment I wanted, I was easily able to tick-off all the things on my list – nearly all, at any rate – there is no such thing as a perfect apartment. A PR team and its client need to establish what is on everyone’s wish list at the start of engagement; what are our ultimate goals? What media outlets do we want to be in? Do we want to offer third party commentary or focus on profile pieces and bylined articles? With these things decided at the onset, it is always much easier to snap up the best opportunities and leave the mediocre ones behind.
You also have to be patient—stick to your goals, stick to your wish-list. It's important to act fast, but also to act right and in the best interest of your client. Don’t arrange an interview that won’t help achieve the account goals; it will be a waste of everyone’s time. Of course it may be tempting to say, “Let’s just do this already!” but when that winning opportunity—or apartment—comes through, it will make for a much happier home.