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To Get the Most Out of ICSC, You’ll Need PR


Are you attending ICSC RECon this year? If you go without a PR strategy, you’re wasting an opportunity to make a name for yourself in retail real estate. The evidence?

  • ICSC social pages have a BIG audience. Are you a part of that conversation?
  • Media will be there, including National Real Estate Investor, Bisnow, Commercial Observer, Chain Sore Age and more. Do you have a plan to organize interviews and get news out to the right people?
  • And what about your local media? Chances are, they’ll be looking for experts to discuss the conference when you’re back home.

You can make your mark in an impactful way. Check out our SlideShare below to learn how The Wilbert Group can help.


Caroline Wilbert


404-405-6479 (cell)

News You Can Use


In an inspired PR play this week, our real estate team seized an opportunity to insert one of our clients into an Atlanta Journal-Constitution story about Donald Trump’s return to ATL and what could come of his former prime piece of Midtown real estate. It was a move that we PR pros can execute with our eyes closed, but some newbies may need a quick lesson on what newsjacking is and why it’s ever-so-important in today’s media landscape.


Donald Trump (left) with daughter Ivanka and partners Gil Dezer (second from right) and Mark Randall stand next to a scale model of the proposed $300 million Trump Towers project in Midtown Atlanta in April 2007.

Donald Trump (left) with daughter Ivanka and partners Gil Dezer (second from right) and Mark Randall stand next to a scale model of the proposed $300 million Trump Towers project in Midtown Atlanta in April 2007.

Newsjacking is essentially piggybacking on a news item and inserting your client’s expert opinion on the subject. It’s about taking advantage of a fleeting opportunity that may not seem glaringly obvious for a client (in this case we had a real estate attorney comment on Trump’s failed tower, so fairly obvious connection), establish a connection and move quickly. If the general story is out (again, in this case, Trump coming to Atlanta is a big news story that all news outlets are covering), reporters will want to get their slant out as fast as possible.


Here are a few additional tips:


1) A critical element of successful newsjacking is having existing relationships with reporters. Because the pace moves quickly, reporters are more likely to pick up the phone and consider the idea if they already know the person on the other end. Work on creating and maintaining a tight database of reporters, and constantly keep in touch.

2) Move fast. Because this is a real-time process, avoid clients who require a large-scale approval process. When you jump on the opportunity, make sure your clients are comfortable talking about the subject. Journalists nowadays are covering multiple beats and are required to produce a ton of content, so the faster you move, the better resource you are for them.

3) Be precise and add more than what the journalist may be seeking. Capitalize on the news trend but provide extra value to the story.

4) Offer a few different sources and angles. It’s hard to get sources on the phone, and if one doesn’t answer, the reporter may need to quickly move on to the next one. Craft an organized email that outlines each source, his or her title, phone number and email address, and the topics they can address.

Five Photos from NAREE 2014


by Suong Nguyen

As someone who’s relatively new to the real estate scene, my trip to the annual National Association of Real Estate Editors (NAREE) conference was a great way to meet some of the industry’s top journalists and attend panels that covered a wide range of topics – from luxe housing, shopping centers, vacation homes and everything else in between!

Here are five photos from my visit to NAREE 2014 in Houston, the “Energy Capital of the World.”

#1 Everyone loves a good swag bag. We had a wonderful time meeting Unique Homes’ managing editor Mark Moffa and writer Camilla McLaughlin, who were kind enough to take a moment to pose with their new tote bags, courtesy of our client, Camana Bay.

#2 What’s next for online real estate. Eric Eckardt of Hubzu, another Wilbert Group client, was one of the experts who participated in the forum on the future of online real estate. Some of the topics the panelists went over included pocket listings and Zillow’s new “coming soon” feature.

#3 Meeting/speed dating the press. One of my favorite aspects of NAREE is how even though there are serious topics being discussed, the atmosphere is casual and friendly. This comfort level came in handy during the Meet the Press portion of the conference, where I met with over 20 journalists and had three minutes (or less) to pitch our clients. It definitely felt like speed dating, but thankfully minus the awkwardness!

#4 At the end of the day, we made time to eat… When I’m in a new city, my favorite thing to do is explore the local restaurant scene. I also consider myself a pretty adventurous eater, so when I saw chapulines (aka grasshoppers) on the menu at Hugo’s, I convinced the table to try it with me. In case you’re curious, grasshoppers taste exactly how you think they would – crunchy and earthy.

#5 Drink… Since we were in Texas, it would have been downright bad manners to not sample the local beers and whiskeys. My personal favorite was the Alamo Golden Ale.

And be NAREE!

Photo: Kris Hudson, Wall Street Journal.

We can’t wait to do it all over again in Miami for NAREE 2015!


Making News: Our Clients in the Headlines


by Shannan Jordan

#1 FrontDoor Communities CEO, Terry Russell, was featured in the Wall Street Journal regarding the increase in home sizes in the South.

#2 The LA Times looked to Equifax Senior Vice President, Scott Mitic, for his thoughts on the recent AmEx breach.

#3 With a completion set for Spring 2015, Cooper Carry shares the progress of one of its current projects, the Talley Student Union, at N.C. State.

#4 Summer and Grand Cayman go hand in hand. See why the Huffington Post says Camana Bay is one of the first places you should visit upon arrival.

#5 Brett Kingman of Multi Housing Advisors spoke with citybizlist Atlanta about MHA’s role with the recent $13.8 million sale of Nashville apartment community, Green Leaf at Hermitage.

Thought Leadership at InterFace Multifamily Southeast Conference


by Savannah Duncan

These days, a PR program should be about so much more than simply writing and pitching press releases detailing recent transactions or new hires. While generating media coverage of your clients’ moves is still very important, of course, so is establishing your clients as experts, as thought leaders in their fields. Speaking engagements – whether they be before high-profile local organizations or at industry conferences – are a great way to do this.

Yesterday, a handful of The Wilbert Group’s clients in the apartment industry spoke at sessions held as part of the annual Interface Multifamily Southeast 2013 conference in Atlanta. Below are five of the big-picture thoughts our clients imparted to an audience of key industry players:

#1 Walkability is key for new developments. Walkability is commonly associated with urban, infill apartments, but even suburban residents want communities that give them the ability to ditch the car and travel on foot to restaurants, entertainment and jobs, said Mark Toro, managing partner at North American Properties.

Panelists, from left: Josh Goldfarb, Multi Housing Advisors; Mark Toro, North American Properties; Alan Dean, Terwilliger Pappas Multifamily Partners; Jonathan Bartlett, Cohn Reznick; Bennett Sands, Wood Partners.

In regards to developing suburban communities, Toro said, “If a resident’s experience can be a walkable, urban environment, we’re in.”

#2 Students want lots of amenities, urban experience. In today’s student-housing communities, residents “want posh amenities just as much as they want proximity to a city’s urban core,” said Scott Taylor, president of Carter. “We believe a trend now, across the board, is reurbanization.”

#3 Investors aren’t ready to look at secondary markets – yet. While multifamily properties are being quickly snatched up in primary markets, most investors aren’t quite ready to make a play in secondary markets. “With the economy the way it is, we are still more comfortable with the ‘have’ areas versus the ‘have nots, ’” said Josh Goldfarb, founder and managing partner of Multi Housing Advisors.

#4 The condo market is expected to heat up again. While the overbuilding of apartment units has been a concern, Jake Reid, senior director of Franklin Street, said, “Urban infill condos are coming back. Some of the multifamily projects in the early stages of development could become condo projects instead.”

#5 Investors still have a large appetite for multifamily products. Consequently, cap rates are expected to remain stable in 2014, according to Mike Altman, chief investment officer at Cortland Partners. That’s in part because “rent growth should offset” possible increased costs of capital, he added.

Five Tips for Entrepreneurs from Sam Zell


by Tony Wilbert

Sam Zell, easily commercial real estate’s biggest rock star, offered some keen advice to budding and established entrepreneurs at the ULI Fall Meeting this morning in chilly Chicago. The real estate mogul who started four of the largest real estate investment trusts in the world captivated an early morning crowd with tales of growing up in an immigrant family outside Chicago and catching the entrepreneurial bug at an early age.

Here are five top tips he offered people looking to start their own venture:

Sam Zell, center, at the ULI Fall Meeting

#1 Acquire a broad knowledge of the world and how business works. Zell did this and still does by reading constantly. “I read anything and everything I get my hands on,” Zell told the crowd. This time investment has enabled the real estate mogul to know something about a lot of things and armed him with a “broad knowledge” that helped him succeed in business. Even the University of Michigan’s law school, which Zell termed a “horrendous bore” ultimately helped. “It taught me how to think.”

#2 Focus on margins and don’t be shy about making money. At an early age, Zell realized what profit could deliver. “If I could make money, then I got freedom because I didn’t have to ask anyone else for money. When Zell was 10 years old, he attended Hebrew school on the city of Chicago while living in the suburbs. He started buying Playboy (for the articles) for 50 cents and reading the magazine on the train ride home. His fascinated friends happily paid Zell $3 for his used issues. “That’s when I learned about margins,” Zell told the crowd.

#3 Before starting any venture, assess the potential downside. “My focus has always been in understanding and defining the downside because effectively you have assessed the risk,” Zell told ULI attendees. “If I buy an office building at a 6 [cap rate] and sell it at a 4, I make a lot of money (but w/a lot of risk).” Taking risk is great, but as an entrepreneur, you’ve got to be paid for it. The risk/reward ratio is the ultimate determinant of success.

#4 Be hungry for success, and be sure your appetite is insatiable. Motivation is critical for success, and entrepreneurs cannot settle – ever. When Zell interviews potential partners and employees, the second question he always asks is, “Are you hungry? How hungry are you? How badly do you want to do this?”

#5 Love what you do. At 72, Zell says he still is excited to wake up extremely early each day and head to work. I love what I do. I’m intrigued by what I do. I hope I can do [commercial real estate deals] for the rest of my life.”

Zell’s speech resonated with his audience, especially the large number of students in attendance. When he finished, Zell tried to slip away but was intercepted by scores of people who requested autographs, more advice and a few selfies with the legend.

Five Reasons Our New CRE Accelerate Program is Awesome


by Caroline Wilbert

At The Wilbert Group, we love working with startups, especially those related to commercial real estate, an industry where we have deep expertise. We “get” that most startups are (smartly) watching every penny, so we created a program that provides a PR boost without breaking the bank.

The 60-day CRE Accelerate program officially launches today, and below are the top five reasons we’re excited about it:

#1 We are entrepreneurial ourselves. Our founder Tony Wilbert quit his job as an SVP at Edelman in 2009 to start his own thing. We now have ten employees. We are nimble, innovative, fast-growing, efficient, lean — just like most of the companies we will represent through CRE Accelerate.

#2 We love CRE. Most of our clients are in commercial real estate or have a connection to the industry. We understand the intricacies of the real estate business, know the journalists who cover it and have relationships throughout the industry. We can help new companies in this space quickly and efficiently because we already have the network, knowledge and infrastructure.

#3 Startups need help defining their stories. Entrepreneurs are typically hard-charging, passionate advocates for their firms. Because they are consumed with the day-to-day of their businesses, they need outside help to distill “the story” and figure out what’s relevant and interesting to the media and key audiences.

#4 We can make a difference. Public relations, even a short-term program like CRE Accelerate, can drastically increase awareness about a young company and establish its executives as thought leaders. Good public relations can make a startup seem “bigger” than it really is.

#5 We like to bet on winners. We know the best entrepreneurs will grow their companies and eventually need bigger, ongoing public relations programs. We expect to grow alongside our CRE Accelerate clients.

Five Multifamily Trends from Bisnow


by Savannah Duncan 

Amid one of the worst recessions in history, multifamily properties continued to see rent growth, interested investors and even financing for new construction. This week two panels of experts at Bisnow Atlanta shared insight into the multifamily market. Here are five of the top trends they shared. 

#1 Seniors housing continues to heat up. “Developers can’t build seniors housing fast enough,” said Doug Linneman, vice president of Franklin Street Real Estate Services.

#2 Apartments are shrinking. Studio units in urban locations are as small as 350 to 400 square feet, said Dave Stockert, president and CEO of Post Properties. People are willing to live in a smaller apartment if it’s in a great location and the rent is the right price, he added.

#3 Animals are more important to renters than ever. “Pets are the new children,” said Sue Ansel, CEO of Gables Residential. Dog walking services, pet spas and dog parks are a few ways animals are living the good life.

#4 Texas is high on everyone’s list of places to develop. “Texas was a great multifamily market until Gables found it,” joked Gregory Mutz, CEO of Gables Residential. In Austin, downtown development has been hot, and Houston and Dallas retain their reputations as strong multifamily cities.

#5 Fannie and Freddie aren’t going anywhere any time soon. “Shutting down Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac would be as difficult as shutting down Guantanamo Bay, and they’ve been trying to do that for five years,” said Frank Baldasare, senior vice president of Walker & Dunlop.

Top Five Photos from NAREE 2013


by Leigh Taylor 

Last week was exciting for The Wilbert Group and for real estate journalists from around the country, as the National Association of Real Estate Editors (NAREE) held its 2013 conference in Atlanta. With a schedule chock-full of networking events, tours, panels and — of course — happy hours, there were endless photo ops. As Wilbert recovers from the NAREE 2013 whirlwind, here are five of the best photos.

#1 Breathing life into Midtown. Mark Toro (left), managing partner at North American Properties, and NAREE president Kris Hudson (right), reporter for The Wall Street Journal, posed at the Atlantic Station tour kick-off. Toro spoke about bringing Midtown’s mixed-use development back to life with experiential retail and topnotch social media.

#2 The senate comes to NAREE. One of the biggest names at NAREE 2013 was Senator Johnny Isakson. After his talk on the current state and recovery of the real estate market — and giving an impromptu press conference to the media — Tony Wilbert posed for a shot with Georgia’s senator.

#3 A bright future for New Urbanism. Andrés Duany (left), New Urbanism guru and co-founder of DPZ Architecture, and Jackie Doak (right), COO of Dart Realty and Camana Bay, were all smiles after a fervent panel on the future of global suburbs, cities and towns.

#4 Real estate in the digital age. Sue Silverman (left) of Commercial Property Executive and Matthew Strozier (right) of The Wall Street Journal Online responded to questions after their panel on covering real estate in digital media.

#5 Happy at the top. Scott Trubey of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution welcomed NAREE attendees at a skyline happy hour and tour of the residences at the top of the W Atlanta Downtown.

And #6…just for fun! A “shot” of good whiskey, served at the “Wry Ideas” event hosted by NAREE vice president, Daniel Taub of Bloomberg, and NAREE president Kris Hudson of The Wall Street Journal. Wilbert’s own Savannah Duncan helped serve the spirits!


NAREE Recap: Day Two


by Stephen Ursery 

The National Association of Real Estate Editors’ (NAREE) 47th Annual Conference continued last night and today in downtown Atlanta, with attendees getting a chance to hear about the history of the Atlanta skyline, tour Atlantic Station and attend educational sessions on topics ranging from real estate radio shows to luxury housing.

Here are five quick blurbs about some of the sights and sounds of the past 24 hours:

#1 Up from the Ashes. On Wednesday night, NAREE revelers enjoyed drinks, appetizers and a view of thunderstorms over the city in a model condo on the 26th floor of the W Hotel & Residences in downtown Atlanta. Scott Trubey, commercial real estate reporter at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, graciously provided the group the backstory on the building, which was foreclosed on in 2010. The problems were related to a complicated ownership dispute and the failure of Silverton Bank. Trubey told the crowd that the property is doing well today. “Atlanta’s symbol is the phoenix, as in rising from the ashes,” he said.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Scott Trubey speaks during the W Hotel & Residences Tour.

#2 This Party Isn’t Over. The recovering single-family housing market doesn’t “mean the fun is over for the multifamily industry,” said Mark Obrinksy of the National Multi Housing Council during Thursday morning’s “Multifamily Midyear Forecast” session.

The number of young adults still living with their parents is still quite high, Orbinsky added, and as the labor market improves and they leave home, apartment demand will increase.

Greg Willett of MPF Research pinpointed Washington D.C. as one market that is the subject of strong overbuilding concerns within the industry, but he said most of the product coming online appears to be well-placed.

On the subject of micro apartments in Texas, Willett said a developer proposing a building with those units “would just be laughed at.” Everything is indeed bigger in Texas.

#3 Big Year for Hotels. 2014 is shaping up to be one of the best years for the hotel industry in a while, according to Mark Woodworth of PKF Hospitality Research. Woodworth made his remarks during Thursday’s “Mid-Year Hotel Outlook” session.

The top U.S. markets for hotel revenue growth are Houston; Newark, N.J.; Oakland, Calif.; Chicago; and Oahu, Hawaii. Memphis is experiencing the lowest revenue growth of major U.S. cities, according to Woodworth.

Wherever he is these days, Elvis is surely weeping.

#4 Radio Talkers Talk. “Make a bold statement and then support that.” That’s Michael Bull’s advice for the guests on his weekly “Commercial Real Estate Show” radio program – and that’s how he urged attendees of Wednesday’s “Behind the Mic” lunchtime session to handle any radio or television appearances they might make.

Bull, the president of Bull Realty, and Ilyce Glink, host of the residential real estate-focused “Ilyce Glink Show,” discussed their broadcasting careers at the session.

Bull said he seeks a diversity of commercial real estate perspectives on his show, from analysts to in-the-trenches brokers.

Glink noted that industry figures can create their own podcasts fairly easily by using online services such as Blog Talk Radio or by purchasing their own hardware for a fairly cheap price. “A good digital recorder costs $100,” she said.

#5 High-Class Living. “The Boom in Luxe Housing” panel drew a lively crowd on Thursday morning. Kofi Natei Nartey of The Agency of Beverly Hills said that pocket listings for luxury homes are on the rise. “Creating mystique is a sales strategy,” he said.

Accountants of high-net-worth entertainers also are urging their clients to invest in luxury real estate, Nartey said.