The Wilbert Group Blog

Posts by Liana Moran

Three Nights in Vegas at ICSC RECon


Last weekend, Caroline Wilbert and I along with 37,000 others made our way to Las Vegas for the world’s largest retail real estate convention, ICSC RECon. Over the last few months, we worked with our team to research the latest trends, strategize PR plans, develop digital/social media content and pitch our clients as thought leaders to the 35+ journalists attending the conference and looking for stories. To say the least, we were excited to get our boots on the ground.

We kicked off ICSC RECon on Sunday at the MAXI Awards Ceremony. MAXI Awards recognize the highest caliber of marketing, community outreach, sales promotion and new media efforts within the U.S. retail real estate industry. Between our work with North American Properties, Avalon, Colony Square, Hines and Atlantic Station, we helped our clients bring home eight MAXI awards, including one for innovative PR efforts at Colony Square.

Liana Liz Carla

Liana Moran, Liz Gillespie and Carla Toro pose with six winning MAXI Awards.

After the MAXI Awards Ceremony, we joined the Hartman Simons team for a kick-off party at the Paris Hotel. Here we saw many movers and shakers, including our client Joel Murphy with New Market Properties and Daniel Easton who leads marketing at Atlantic Station.


Liana Moran, Daniel Easton and Caroline Wilbert celebrate the first night of ICSC RECon at the Hartman Simons party.

On Monday morning we visited various client booths and walked the aisles of the convention. At North American Properties’ booth, the team unveiled its modern new brand and met with the Wall Street Journal to discuss its winning approach to experiential retail.


North American Properties’ booth features its new purpose-driven brand.

We finished the afternoon with an intriguing panel about the future of food halls – a concept many of our clients are exploring/have recently rolled out, including Bayer Properties’ project The Pzitz.

Tuesday morning began at Franklin Street’s booth, where we met Cary Beale, new Senior Vice President at Franklin Street.


Cary Beale and Monetha Cobb of Franklin Street.

From there, we met with Jeffrey Bayer of Bayer Properties and the Wall Street Journal to discuss the shrinking middle class and its effects on retail. Both Bayer’s project The Summit at Fritz Farm and North American Properties’ project Avalon were featured in the May issue of Shopping Center Business, which was distributed at the conference.


Caroline Wilbert and Jeffrey Bayer after talking with the Wall Street Journal.

We then made our way to Ben Carter Enterprises’ booth, where we met Quito Anderson and Bennett Rudder, who are leasing projects in Savannah including The Broughton Street Collection. To tell the story of Broughton Street’s history and recent resurgence, we launched a SlideShare, which has already garnered 11,000 views. The team was also excited to share our recent hit in USA Today, naming Broughton Street one of the top ten best American shopping streets.


Bennett Rudder, Liana Moran and Quito Anderson at the Ben Carter Enterprises’ booth.

Afterwards we enjoyed a keynote presentation by Barbara Corcoran, who credited PR and the media for playing a major role in the success of her company and brand. Before the keynote began, we caught up with veteran CRE journalist, Ben Johnson.


Caroline Wilbert and Ben Johnson catch up on the latest CRE news.

We kicked off Tuesday evening with our friends at Imbibe for dinner followed by Franklin Street’s happy hour at Goose Island Pub. We capped the evening off at the Charlie Hendon party, where Caroline convinced me to get a tattoo (don’t worry, it rubbed off the next day).


Liana Moran and Caroline Wilbert…. No caption needed. 😉

Before flying home Wednesday morning, the GlobeSt article we secured for Joel Murphy and New Market Properties ran, citing “the only thing static about retail is change.”

Screen Shot 2017-05-27 at 1.01.35 AM

And, as a result of a press release we pitched at the convention, Southeast Real Estate Business and Shopping Center Business covered Peachtree Center’s upcoming renovation.

The only client we did not see at the convention was Cooper Carry (their schedules were jam packed with exciting meetings)! But, stay tuned for a provocative SlideShare about eight creative uses for department store shells left behind by sweeping closures across the U.S.

Until next time, Vegas!


The Art of Storytelling


What do the lead story on CNN, Vincent van Gogh’s The Starry Night and J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Cursed Child” have in common? They are all forms of storytelling.

A good story compels people. It moves them emotionally or intellectually. Stories come in many shapes and sizes – paintings, fairytales, news articles, tweets and more.

At The Wilbert Group, it is our job to find stories, package them and find homes for them – whether it be a SlideShare, LinkedIn blog, article in the local paper or feature in The New York Times.

Good PR pros are good storytellers (cue the eye rolls). No, we’re not “spinning” stories; we’re bringing factual information to light. And, we do so in a smart, interesting way that will appeal to our audiences.

For example, when the Pokemon Go craze took most of us by surprise, we turned to our clients and asked: how has it affected business? One client, Atlantic Station, told us about plans to meet with a local Pokemon Go group to learn how to best work with them moving forward. We uncovered this story opportunity and took it to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. We even welcomed a reporter to observe the initial meeting at Atlantic Station. The story landed in the AJC’s Sunday paper and online here.


This example happens all the time at The Wilbert Group. We are constantly poking and prodding for the next great story. We do it so often that we’ve highlighted five ways to become better storytellers.

  • Become a subject matter expert. Learn your client’s business. Ask questions, do your research and attend industry events. Just last week, The Wilbert Group attended the CREW Atlanta luncheon and learned about the latest trends in retail.


  • Keep your ear to the ground. Consume the media! Read the paper (or visit the website), follow the right outlets on social media and turn on the news. Listen for stories that may relate to your client. Plus, journalists are the storytelling pros. Pay attention to what they deem newsworthy.
  • Think like your reader. Before you pitch that flat story idea, put yourself in the reader’s shoes. Why would you find it interesting? Can you tie it to a national trend or event? How does it affect your life? These are questions the journalist will ask, so beat him/her to it and start thinking like the reader.
  • Find the right home. Not every story should be told with a press release. Technology has opened so many new doors. Maybe your story is best told through a social media campaign. Or, check out SlideShare. We often use this tool to illustrate our client’s bold idea or point of view.
  • Bring on the visuals. Most of us are visual creatures. At the alarmingly fast rate people consume media (and increasingly shorter attention spans), it’s important to capture your audience with a strong visual be it a photo, video, or infographic.

Happy storytelling!


The Wilbert Group’s Trip to Gaza


Today, our office visited Gaza.

We traveled via Google Cardboard, a virtual reality viewer The New York Times sent its subscribers in the mail.


The New York Times has invested significantly in Virtual Reality experiences.

It was extraordinary.

We downloaded the Vrse virtual reality app and watched “My Mother’s Wing” – a short virtual reality film that gives a first-person view of a Palestinian family who lost two sons to Israeli bombing.

Virtual reality production company in conjunction with the United Nations produced My Mother’s Wing, a short eight-minute documentary about a Palestinian family who lost two sons to Israeli bombing.

Virtual reality production company Vrse works in conjunction with the United Nations produced My Mother’s Wing, a short eight-minute documentary.

We didn’t just see inside the family’s home, we were standing inside their kitchen. We turned to see trash overflowing in the corner, dishes stacked on shelves and the mother preparing tea near the sink. It was a powerful and moving experience as we were transported to the frontlines of this family’s tragedy.

When we removed the headset, we were brought back to the bright lights of our office. We looked at the cardboard box with wonder. Where would it take us next?


Learning how to use our own Google Cardboard at The Wilbert Group.

Google Cardboard brings the storytelling experience to a new level. It immerses viewers inside a new reality, and the possibilities are endless.

At The Wilbert Group, we represent many firms in the commercial real estate space and we are always looking for new ways to tell their stories and drive their business goals.

And, looking at this novel technology through a commercial real estate lens, we started to think about how this changes the game.

Google Cardboard would allow:

  • Prospective tenants to “walk” around inside the future space, enhancing the ability to pre-lease.
  • Developers to win public support by walking people through virtual reality renderings, giving them a real feel for the new development.
  • Better collaboration between architects, developers and contractors as they design and build projects together.

At Wilbert, we look forward to exploring new opportunities with Google Cardboard. We encourage you to try it yourself and order one here.

If you’re a company looking to explore the world of Virtual Reality, expect a big price tag to match the big idea (approximately $20-$50k per video). However, as video and app developers become more acquainted with Google Cardboard technology, we expect production costs to drop. Click here for more information about virtual experience developers.

Some companies such as Chaos Group are ready to offer clients Virtual Reality-Ready renderings and visualizations.  Click the picture for more info.

Some companies such as Chaos Group are ready to offer clients Virtual Reality-Ready renderings and visualizations. Click the picture for more info.

Millennials and the news, according to a Millennial



Bisnow is hosting a Millennial Revolution panel this Thursday to take a deeper look at the power this group commands. Forbes recently called 2016 the year of the Millennial customer. As the largest living generation (Millennials are projected to surpass Baby Boomers this year) continues to join the workforce, start families (or not), vote and make major buying decisions, it’s important to also understand how they consume news.

Here are 7 stats to know about Millennials’ newsgathering habits:

  • 69 percent get the news at least once a day.
  • 60 percent rely on social media for staying up to date with the news.
  • 73 percent visit a news brand website to get more information when they see an interesting story on social media.
  • 70 percent say social media feeds are comprised of diverse viewpoints.
  • Facebook is the most used mobile app – with platforms such as SnapChat and Instagram making giant strides (see chart A).
  • On 24 separate news topics, Facebook was the No. 1 gateway to learn about 13 of those, and the second-most cited gateway for seven others.
  • Huffington Post is the most visited source (see chart B).

As a Millennial, I can say my friends and I often find news stories (both hard and soft) through mobile apps on smartphones. When there’s breaking news, we search key words or hashtags to find the latest and greatest news story.

Millennials’ newsgathering habits reinforce the need for news organizations to build their online presence. That includes social media. It also emphasizes the benefits for companies to use social media to share the latest news, events and happenings.

Click here for more information on the Bisnow panel this Thursday, November 19, 2015, which will focus on Millennials’ impact on the “live, work, play” movement.

Chart A, Source: Digiday

Chart A, Source: Digiday

Chart B

Chart B, Source: Digiday

Twitter’s New Moments Page Represents a Bigger Change in Newsgathering Habits


If you graduated with a mass communications degree, you probably remember a class in theories. One theory that sticks out is the gatekeeping theory – the idea that journalists are gatekeepers of the news. They decide what is newsworthy and what is not. Journalists make these decisions carefully and with journalistic integrity. They have a responsibility to uphold to keep the public’s trust and deliver the news accurately, fairly and without bias. It’s a job the media takes very seriously.


These media decisions impact public knowledge – we the people don’t decide what’s front page, what’s on the 6 p.m. news, etc. But, with the explosive growth of social media, that model is changing. More and more are getting the news from social media where there are options to customize news interests and define the types of stories we want to read about. And with Twitter’s new Moments page, that paradigm shift is clearer than ever.

Twitter Moments

Twitter Moments

Let’s start with what the new Twitter Moments page is.


Twitter Moments are meant to represent the latest conversations happening around an issue regardless of who you follow. The new Moments page resembles a mobile news site with a selection of stories and topics. Slate gives a good example of how it works:


“For instance, if you follow a story about the South Carolina floods, Twitter will automatically drop new tweets from that story into your timeline as it develops. Once the story is over, you won’t have to unfollow it—you’ll just stop seeing those tweets.”


The main difference between your regular Twitter feed and Twitter Moments is the Moments are editorially driven. You can read more about Moments from Twitter here.


Who creates these Moments?


As of now, only identified Moment creators can add to the feed. Launch partners include the New York Times, Buzzfeed, Entertainment Weekly, Fox News, NASA, The Washington Post and Vogue. Twitter says it wants to work with a wide variety of publishers to contribute to the Moments page. Yes, these creators are the new digital gatekeepers and they are accountable to the same journalistic standards as traditional media.


The cool thing is the end-user (you, me, etc.) has control over what is newsworthy on an individual level. Do you want to read about world news? U.S. news? Politics? Sports? Entertainment? Or perhaps all of the above. We can follow a variety of stories from different beats without having to flip TV channels or thumb through newspapers.


What does this mean for traditional media?


Social media is taking the news seriously. Twitter has invested big-time in an editorially driven section. And they aren’t the first. Think about SnapChat and its Discover feature. Our newsgathering habits are changing to be more interactive and personalized, and the news will continue to be shared across a multitude of both traditional and untraditional platforms.


What does this mean for our clients?


Social media is a serious communication tool that will continue to build its presence in the market. As part of your organization’s communication strategy, it’s important to consider a multifaceted approach that includes social media.


To see Twitter Moments live, visit


Three Questions for the Corporate Intern


The Wilbert Group recently welcomed Meredith Pierce and Sarah Long for 12-week internships this summer. Sarah comes as a recent graduate from The University of Alabama’s College of Communication and Information Sciences, one of the top five PR programs in the nation. At Wilbert, she helps out on several corporate accounts including Aaron’s and Equifax. To better get to know our new intern, we asked her three questions.

Sarah’s blog featured in Seventeen magazine

Sarah’s blog featured in Seventeen magazine

1. Why public relations?

Coming from a loud and large southern family, communicating efficiently comes naturally at an early age. If I wanted to be heard at the dinner table, I had to make sure that my message was coming across clearly. When it came time for me to decide what I was going to study in college, it was no surprise that I would major in public relations. The major combined everything I loved, including communicating, creativity, and telling a story. The true power of storytelling was first presented to me in my early years of college when my blog extended to a national audience. The stories and tips I had once shared on the web led to my role as Seventeen’s College Beauty Blogger, landing a feature article in the March 2013 issue and more recently The Seventeen Ultimate Guide to College: Everything You Need to Know to Walk on Campus and Own It! My desire to tell amazing stories was ignited.  

2. What’s a unique experience/skill you’ve brought to Wilbert?

Throughout college I continued to build my experience in social media strategy and digital content creation through multiple internships including agency experience with anything from consumer to B2B clients and my own freelance work for non-profits and start-up companies. With each client, I utilized my graphic design background to take ideas and bring them to life through concept development, logo creation, advertisements and campaigns. Some of my freelance clients include The American Red Cross, Symphony Orchestra Augusta, Arborsoft Consulting Services and the Southeastern Orchestra Volunteer Association. At the The Wilbert Group, I hope to bring my creative thinking to craft compelling content and stories for our corporate clients. 

3. Tell us something interesting about yourself.

When I’m not at work I can be found within a square box on your smartphone… but really. With over 3,200 followers on Instagram, I enjoy curating my feed as I share highlights of beginning a new chapter after college and exploring a new city with my toy poodle Winston. 

Sarah and her toy poodle, Winston, begin their next chapter in Atlanta

Sarah and her toy poodle, Winston, begin their next chapter in Atlanta

Check out our real estate intern, Meredith’s Q&A here.

Three Questions for the Real Estate Intern


The Wilbert Group recently welcomed Meredith Pierce and Sarah Long for 12-week internships this summer. Meredith comes as a recent graduate of The University of Georgia’s Grady School of Journalism and Mass Communication. At Wilbert, she helps out on several real estate accounts including North American Properties and Camana Bay. We asked her three questions. Tune in for Sarah’s answers next week!

1. Why public relations?

After two years of French and Italian classes – learning all things romance language – I started to doubt my major. And while studying in Paris over the summer, I befriended a PR student who loved what she did. I’d always known I had a knack for writing, social media (I was already running three Twitter accounts), and event planning, I just had no idea there was a field that encompassed my passions. I switched majors more than halfway through school and never looked back. Early in my PR education, I thought I wanted to be a wedding planner. However, after a summer of working as an assistant and attending 29 weddings in five months, I decided that wasn’t the path for me after all. Eventually, I secured an internship in restaurant PR and fell in love with media relations, social media, and the creativity and fast pace culture of an agency. After graduation, I secured a spot at The Wilbert Group, where I’m enjoying learning about real estate PR and continuing to hone my skills.

2. What’s a unique experience/skill you’ve brought to Wilbert?

I’m a self-proclaimed foodie and was happy to get my start in restaurant PR with The Reynolds Group, where I promoted menus and chefs, and planned events from grand openings to restaurant weeks. My knowledge of food media and culture makes me a good fit for the real estate team, since some of our clients such as Atlantic Station and Avalon are veritable food meccas. In addition, my experience in event planning and promotion is valuable to a team tasked with coordinating PR for events throughout the year.

3. Tell us something interesting about yourself.

From a young age, my Dad instilled a love of travel in me with trips to everywhere from Washington D.C. to the Cayman Islands to Amsterdam. After several busy years without a trip together, before I graduated he and I spent two weeks travelling around Israel with a historian specializing in ancient Hebrew history, visiting the Dead Sea, Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, Bethlehem, Tel Aviv and Jericho. We had an amazing adventure, and we’re already planning our next trip; Dad wants to go to Greece and Turkey, and I’d like to visit Cuba or Argentina.

Meredith and her dad at Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.

Meredith and her dad at Mount of Olives in Jerusalem.


9 points to know about Charlotte’s real estate market


Seven heavy-hitters in Charlotte’s real estate arena offered insight at Bisnow’s 5th Annual Charlotte State of the Market conference in Charlotte on April 20.

Seven heavy-hitters in Charlotte’s real estate arena offered insight at Bisnow’s 5th Annual Charlotte State of the Market conference in Charlotte on April 20.

7 Ways to Build Your Personal Brand


by Liana Moran

ICYMI: The Wilbert Group’s Liana Moran spoke at PRSSA Regional Conference, Brand Yourself

Boutique vs. Global PR Agency


Why college seniors should consider a boutique PR agency over lure of a global agency

 by Liana Moran

As a recent college graduate, I can easily remember the days leading up to graduation.  While there was an infectious buzz of excitement in the air, my fellow graduates and I can all recall the looming question of which career path to take after the big day.

I knew I wanted to find a career within my major (public relations), which left me with my first decision of going corporate or agency PR. As a young, twenty-something, looking for an exciting first job, agency life seemed like a good fit. Agencies offer a variety of clients, industries, assignments, events, etc.

Which brought me to my next major decision, boutique or global PR agency? I interviewed at firms both small (less than 20 employees) and large (more than 100 employees). Here’s why I decided on the boutique firm:

#1 Accessibility. Younger employees have regular face time with top-level managers. On a daily basis, I work with the president of the firm and gain invaluable insight on the industry.

Working with client at 11 Alive studios.

#2 Experience. Just six months after graduation, I’ve launched social media platforms, assisted with crises, arranged interviews with top news anchors, worked behind the scenes at 11 Alive studios and met with some of Atlanta’s most successful entrepreneurs. (Not bad!)

Facilitating an interview with WSB-TV and Fab’rik founder and CEO, Dana Spinola.

#3 Authenticity. I know my boss’ kids, go to happy hour with coworkers and babysit the office fish (his name is Josh). There is a genuine ‘family feel’ in our office that makes us more than just a headcount.

Enjoying after-work drinks at Watershed, one of our favorite spots.

If this sounds like the work environment for you, shoot me an email. We’d love to meet and hear about your professional goals – coffee is on us!