We wanted to give back to the world we love – the world of ideas, stories, and commerce – with our take on the trends and publications we’re seeing growth in recently.
This will be a regular series where we focus on one publication that’s making waves – whether it’s a startup news publication, industry magazine, or breakout blog.
We’ll also drop in a few trends we’re observing.
We hope to inspire journalists, digital PR practitioners, and brands alike to help produce interesting work.
In May, we discussed the trend of travel struggles and soaring (no pun intended) airline prices. Unfortunately for anyone looking to travel this summer, our predictions have held true and airfare is still, in fact, high.
This month, we’re looking at the cost of staying home… Specifically housing prices and the real estate market that seems to be taking over both dinner table conversations and a lot of the news articles we’re seeing online.
Standout Websites in the Real Estate Market
Unlike the travel publications we analyzed last month, all five of the leading real estate websites have seen positive growth in site traffic from 2021-2022. The biggest jump in site traffic goes to Movoto, which has seen an impressive 94% growth in the last year.
Movoto brands its services as “human empathy scaled by AI” and attributes its success to the machine intelligence that its site uses to offer personalized preferences. Competitors like Zillow and Realtor may be a bit more standardized, and therefore less enticing to customers.
Despite the impressive growth in site traffic, Motovo actually saw the steepest decline in employee headcount over the last two years (it is also the smallest company overall). Realtor, on the other hand, has been growing with no slowing down in sight. Employee headcount at Realtor has grown 68% in the last two years, showing the demand and interest in the real estate market have really revved up.
According to this article by Realtor employee, Debbie Neuberger, the Realtor “call center volumes have increased 36% since 2019” which would explain the need for more employees and further prove that the real estate market is in fact trending.
June 2022 Story Trends: Housing Market Happenings
We’re sure that rising housing costs have been a topic of at least one of your dinner conversations in the past couple of months. That doesn’t seem to be going away any time soon.
Let’s revisit the tools we use to determine whether or not a topic is trending:
- Look at what topics, themes, and headlines major news publications are reporting on.
- Look for spikes in content keywords in the media using the SEO search tool, Ahrefs.
- Look for keyword search volume in Google Trends to validate that consumers are interested in the subject as much as the media is.
- Analyze past digital PR campaigns on the topic that have done well.
Just like we did in May with the topic of airline travel, we’ll run our new housing market trend through these steps to see if it would make a successful and newsworthy campaign topic.
#1: What major news publications are reporting on
Coming at us with an interesting angle, this article claims that rising housing costs are actually due to folks ditching their roommates after saving money/getting stimulus checks during the pandemic. According to Forbes, people are willing to pay top dollar for a nicer living situation… and so they are doing just that.
Washington Post – Rents are rising everywhere. See how much prices are up in your area.
This article follows the same thought train that young people looking for their own place to live are contributing to housing shortages, but adds on the idea that supply costs and shortages on building materials from the Pandemic are adding to the issue. Aren’t we all tired of hearing about supply chain issues by now?
In some of our migration research last year for moving company, moveBuddha, we noticed a major outflux of people from big cities like LA and NY headed to more rural areas in states like Montana and Idaho. Remote working allowed for expansion from the city. GoBankingRates says that the days on the farm are over. Now that offices are returning to being in-person, the big cities are quickly regaining their lost residents and don’t have the space to keep up.
Want a statistic that’ll make you sick to your stomach if you’re looking to rent right now? This article states that we are in “the most expensive rental market in history,” and, “Between 2017-19, rents rose at an annual rate of 2.3%. Last year, the median rent climbed by 17.8%”.
#2 & 3: Spikes in keywords from both media and consumer search trends data
Recap of what Ahrefs and Google Trends are and how they can be used:
The SEO tool Ahrefs Content Explorer, is a great tool to get a general idea of how newsworthy your topic is because it’ll give you a glance at the volume and headlines of recent articles online that mention your search keywords. Think of it as peer validation – other people like you thought this was a good topic to write about.
Google Trends shows that consumers are actively searching for this topic online, so there is a market for the content that you’re about to produce. Not only can you use this as idea validation, but you can also create an entire campaign around Google searches, as a lot publications have successfully done before.
For our June trending topic of housing costs and real estate, we’re going to take a look at various search trends that people may be searching for and see if there is true search volume for the topic.
We chose the terms, “housing costs”, “rent prices”, and “rent vs buy” and found a definite upwards trending line for each of those terms. This is a good sign that consumers will care about the topic you’re writing a campaign on and hopefully increase your SEO!
#4: Successful past digital PR campaigns on the same topic
The ideal digital PR campaign topic is as creative as it is evergreen. Finding successful campaigns in the same topic that have been done before can be one of the best ways to validate that an idea will perform well, even if the campaign was done years ago.
We found three similarly-framed campaigns from three different companies that were each as successful as the last:
1. The Best (and Worst) Cities for Living on $15/hour by moveBuddha
Not to toot our own horn, but this has been one of our most successful campaigns to date and earned placement on GoBankingRates, Digg, and Wealth Gang. The topic takes more of the ‘cost of living’ angle but is still very relevant to the times and the housing cost idea.
Even looking back over a year later, we still particularly love the infographics in this one for their unique layout and breakdown of so much information into one. It’s important to be careful when making out-of-the-box infographics that they don’t get too crazy or hard to read, but if you can successfully make a unique and informative image, by all means, you should.
Similar to the moveBuddha article, this ranking considers the overall cost of living rather than housing costs alone, however, this study is global and focuses on the most expensive places to live. The “most/least expensive [insert noun here]” is a digital PR campaign as old as time (or at least the internet), but it is still successful nine times out of ten.
Pro tip: Expanding campaigns to be global rather than regional is often an effective link-building strategy as it greatly expands the number of publications that you can pitch your story to.
3. What You Can Get in Every State for the Price of a California Home by GoBankingRates
This is a great housing-focused article that gives perspective on how expensive housing truly is in some states *cough* California *cough*. Additionally, this campaign indirectly asks the reader the question – “Would you rather be in California or have many homes elsewhere?” which is a deeper question than it seems.
We don’t particularly recommend this, but this campaign doesn’t even include infographics. This just goes to show that if the content is detailed and interesting, the presentation can be simple and still effective.
Unused Campaign Ideas
Because we’re generous and full of great ideas, we’ve even come up with a few potential digital PR campaigns waiting to be claimed.
We’ve come up with campaigns in three different realms of real estate: renting, buying, and commercial.
Idea 1: What you could get for $3,000/month in rent in 2022 vs. 2002.
Best for pitching publications in these spaces: General news, economy, personal finance.
Details: Comparing the cost of living to illustrate inflation over the years will always be equally interesting and upsetting. Most campaigns out there compare the costs of buying a home over the years, but these days there seem to be plenty of folks looking to rent which may be a more accurate comparison. The trick with this campaign is being able to acquire data that goes back all the way to 2002 (or however far back you’d like to go with this)… We can’t tell you all of our secrets.
This infographic is taken from a campaign done by Zebra that visualizes housing affordability back to 1960. We wanted to point out this image, in particular, to show that there are creative ways to illustrate the information you collect.
Idea 2: Sustainable/alternative home trends.
Best for: Lifestyle, investing, environment, personal finance.
Details: Whether it be in hopes of downsizing, saving money, or saving the environment, more and more people seem to be opting for unique and sustainable homes rather than traditional home buying. Things like tiny homes, transforming vans into homes on wheels, and living in treehouses are just a few of the alternative living situations that have become popular in the last couple of years.
There are many different directions you could go with a campaign on this topic, but we think a survey would be a great starting point. Google Surveys are a simple way to get a diverse sample across specific regions and you can even ask multiple questions to compare what kinds of alternate living people would be the most open to.
This campaign hones in on tiny homes specifically and gets really granular with the benefits of tiny home living.
Idea 3: Most expensive commercial real estate markets.
Best for: Economy, business, construction, personal finance.
Details: Commercial real estate is not to be left out of the conversation about rising rent costs. As the small businesses that were started during that pandemic may want to finally open a storefront, comparing the costs of renting space in different cities may be very valuable information.
The simplest way to do this would just be to pull the average cost of commercial real estate in various cities across the country and rank them from most to least expensive. This campaign by CommercialCafe gets specific by analyzing office submarkets only, but there are plenty of other commercial real estate submarkets to be explored.
We hope that July’s PR trend will be something that has to do with an industry cost shrinking… But for now, no news is still good news. Happy campaigning.