One thing nearly every retirement community can agree on is that they feel like they go unnoticed. Marketing managers around the country are all too familiar with the phrase, “We’ve lived in this area our entire lives and never knew you were here or what you did.” Of course, this refrain drives retirement living professionals batty, as they are often working very hard — and spending lots of money — in an effort to get someone to consider making their property home. To this end, one of the biggest pieces of the puzzle is a robust public relations plan that both informs the wider neighborhood of their existence and acts as a marketing tool that helps to bring in prospective residents.
Getting local media outlets to cover a retirement community isn’t always easy. While we, as professionals working in the industry, see and hear all of the amazing stories our residents share, it is often difficult to get reporters and journalists to pay attention. And why should they? While Mr. Jones may have an amazing story about his involvement in the Korean conflict, there is probably a Mr. Jones at every community. Finding an angle for a story that piques the interest of the media can be difficult, but we have some tips on where you can find those stories.
First, think quirky! Some of the best story hooks in your community may be hidden just under the surface and are things that you don’t even notice anymore. That resident whose apartment is entirely decorated with elephants may be old news to you, but his or her quirky collection may just be the interesting hook that a reporter will bite at. Nearly everyone has something quirky that makes him or her unique, so don’t be afraid to share it.
Next, try to tie someone’s life story into what’s currently trending. Perhaps a neighborhood in your community is undergoing a revitalization, and it’s the same area in which many of your residents grew up. Hearing how the neighborhood has changed, grown or even remained somewhat the same over the course of several decades can be a fun story to share! Every resident has a unique outlook based on his or her life experience, so sharing how those memories reflect on today’s society can be a great starting point for an article or interview.
Finally, embrace popular culture. What’s the latest fad that kids are into? Finding a way to connect your population to that fad or a public relations piece can be great fun! One great idea we had was to ask residents to interact with a fidget spinner, the toy craze that hit earlier this summer. While many parents and teachers saw the gizmos as silly, we found that some retirees loved to play with the toy — and we captured their reactions as they did!
Great public relations stories for your community are occurring every day. Finding a way to make the unique and different is what will appeal to reporters. If you remember to look for the quirky, keep an eye on trends and embrace popular culture, you’ll uncover a slew of stories in no time flat!