Public Relations Awards

How PR Award Winner Used Video Contest to Control Costs and Increase Sales

Posted by Liz Dean on Fri, Feb 17, 2012 @ 04:43 PM

Farbman Group of Southfield, Michigan, won the Stevie® Award for Communications or PR Campaign of the Year - Low Budget (Under $10,000) in the PR awards categories of The 2011 American Business Awards, the premier business awards program in the U.S.A. (The 2012 ABAs are now accepting entries. Request your entry kit here and submit your entries by the March 28 deadline.) Here we look at how this real estate organization used a PR campaign to overcome the odds in a depressed property market.

In 2009, the public relations awards winner had invested heavily in restoring a historic downtown Detroit building into what is now the luxury Garden Court Condominiums. Despite a downturn in the economy and a slowed demand for property—both of which had affected Detroit more than most U.S. cities—real estate organization Farbman Group was not about to slow down its marketing efforts. 

Farbman GroupFarbman hired Carrie Cohen as director of sales for the property. Cohen had a background in multi-family real estate in up-and-coming hipster communities in Michigan such as Ann Arbor, Royal Oak, and Ferndale.  She immediately set to work on the daunting task of working to sell units and lease space in the Garden Court Condominiums, focusing on individuals who might be expected to move to downtown Detroit.
Shoestring Budget
With minimal funds remaining in the budget after the costly building restoration, Cohen had to think creatively and devise a strategic marketing campaign that would

  1. raise the visibility of the property;
  2. set it apart from other condo developments in the downtown Detroit area that were also vacant; and
  3. reach the desired buyers, who were the young, hip movers and shakers of Detroit.

The campaign conceived was dubbed “I Love Detroit.”  The concept was to offer participants a chance to highlight why they loved Detroit, and to showcase how fabulous it was (or would be) to live in downtown Detroit, all for the opportunity to win a free one-year lease on a Garden Court Condominium unit. 

The “I Love Detroit” contest called for participants to create a short video exploring why they loved the city and upload it to a website dedicated to the contest.  The two main elements of the campaign were to:

  1. Maximize the use of social media;
  2. Encourage the participation of local musicians.

Best of all, the campaign would cost Garden Court Condos very little since it was based largely on word-of-mouth marketing and the leveraging of regional enthusiasm.
Utilizing Social Media
Cohen had a website built for next to nothing using a Ning platform. She utilized Twitter, Facebook, social media groups, and interested bloggers to spread the word, raise awareness, and generate excitement about the contest. The submission judged to be most innovative would win its creator the grand prize of the free one-year lease, while other submissions were to be shared online also. 

Utilizing Local Musicians
To further raise visibility of the property and engage prospective homeowners, Cohen and her sales associates booked local musical acts to perform during lazy Saturday afternoons.  A young up-and-coming artist, Katrina Carson, had her first music video shot on-site, as did national recording artist, K’Jon.  K’Jon was so pleased with the opportunity, that after filming, he agreed to do a complimentary CD signing at the property for his fans. Both video shoots were followed with celebratory parties and the video content was shared through online channels, vastly increasing visibility of the property.

The marketing tactic of using local musicians resulted in hundreds of people touring Garden Court Condominiums—many of whom would not have done so otherwise—and in the sale of a $300,000 condo. Cohen’s marketing efforts were directly responsible for presenting the property to the new owner.

Detroit State of Mind
The communications awards winner's campaign benefited not just Garden Court Condominiums: it also reminded people why Detroit and its people are so special.  The campaign has evolved into a marketing campaign for Detroit because it has spread so much goodwill about the city itself. 

Cohen said, "Our sales and marketing team welcomes the recognition given to us by The Stevie Awards.  Being recognized nationally as the best Low Budget Communications Campaign of the Year in 2011 provided affirmation that you don't have to spend huge sums to be successful, and that a small success in Detroit can have a big influence on the rest of this country."

About Carrie Cohen:
Carrie Cohen serves as sales director for Garden Court Condos in Detroit. She is a certified Michigan Realtor and attended the University of South Carolina. Prior to joining Farbman Group/Garden Court Condos, Cohen was employed as regional sales and marketing manager for various companies including the Morningside Group, Quicken Loans, and BKS Advisors. 

About Farbman Group:
Founded in 1976, Farbman Group is a leading full-service real estate organization handling all facets of real estate transactions, from property management and leasing to acquisition and disposition.

Tags: communications awards, business awards, PR awards, American business awards, ABAs, stevie award, public relations awards, pr award, twitter, Farbman Group, Carrie Cohen, facebook, Garden Court Condominiums

How PR Awards Winner Gravitas Communications Won Their Stevie

Posted by Michael Gallagher on Wed, Nov 24, 2010 @ 01:25 PM

Jocelyn JohsonGravitas Communications is a strategic communications firms that operates at the nexus of public relations, Social Media and Search Engine Optimization. Founded in 2005 by Jocelyn Johnson, Gravitas won a Stevie Award for Communications or PR Campaign of the Year in the 2010 Stevie Awards for Women in Business.  This public relations award was accepted by Jocelyn Johnson at the ceremony in New York on November 12, 2010.  See her acceptance speech here.

Gravitas won their 2010 Stevie for their campaign entitled "Motor Trend 2010 Car of the Year: Good News for US Automaker."  As Gravitas reported in their winning nomination:

"There was a poignancy associated with the winner of the 2010 Car of the Year award – the Ford Fusion.  As the nation and the world worried whether Detroit could be saved, it seemed fitting that the oldest and strongest of the “Big Three” would emerge triumphant among the global field of contenders. Gravitas Communications was tasked with launching a campaign for the 2010 award that would reach new levels of coverage and serve as a positive and motivating boost to the American auto market – but with half the budget compared to prior years.  The goal was to appeal to a mass audience, with the widest possible national
and international media coverage.  The Gravitas team architected a comprehensive publicity plan that efficiently reached the broadest audience possible and was inclusive of all major communications channels including: print, television, radio, web, social media and online video. "

The results of the winning campaign (as of early October 2010) included:

- 1200 Tweets
- 175 Television hits
-  400 online articles
-  4187 streams on the Webcast - 6x more than we hoped for; currently 17,100 views on YouTube
- The Contender video has garnered more than 67,000 views on YouTube
- Live broadcast on FoxBiz
- Nationally syndicated Associated Press article; front page of ,
CNBC.vom,,, USA,
- broke a million page views overall, only the second time the site has achieved that level of traffic

The next opportunities to win PR awards in Stevie Awards programs?  The PR awards categories of The 9th annual American Business Awards, and the PR awards categories of The 8th annual International Business Awards.

Tags: business awards, PR awards, stevie award, public relations awards, pr award, public relations award, awards pr, award pr, gravitas communications