The Wilbert Group Blog

Posts tagged Real Estate

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


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Making News: Our Clients in the Headlines 9/19/16

  1. 21076931-mmmainDiners at the Pizitz Food Hall in downtown Birmingham’s soon-to-reopen historic Pizitz building will have their choice of everything from banh mi to biscuits, Latin street food to Israeli cuisine, developer and Wilbert client Bayer Properties announced. Jeffrey Bayer, president and CEO of Bayer Properties, said, “The wide variety of cuisine we secured for The Pizitz Food Hall is unlike anything else in Birmingham or even Alabama. We can’t wait for the city to experience these unique and exciting culinary delights.” An article further details the revitalized Food Hall, which includes 13 food stalls, two restaurants and a bar.
  1. A recent Think Advisor article profiled the state of the financial tech (fintech) industry and detailed what’s coming next. Wilbert client Marlin’s Russell Walraven, vice president of marketing for Marlin’s Funding Stream, which provides small businesses with loans, gave an extensive interview on the various players in the industry, saying, “Technology has created new opportunities to connect consumers with service providers, but those new providers sometimes encounter growing pains. Non-bank companies saw an opportunity after the financial downturn for small businesses looking for capital they weren’t getting from traditional banks”
  1. Do you pay for Amazon’s ‘Subscribe & Save’ program? You may want to rethink that or at least give your monthly bills a little more scrutiny. The New York Times’ Brian Chen detailed the drawbacks of the program in an article interviewing Wilbert client Revenue Analytics’ resident retail expert Jared Wiesel. Wiesel said of Amazon, “I think they’ve violated the psychological concept of a subscription with their customers in changing prices like this. When people think of a subscription, they think of locking in a set cadence of receiving a good.”
  1. cbs-n2n-2Last week, Avalon hosted a fall fashion event benefitting Bert’s Big Adventure. Noon to Night kicked off with a cocktail reception offering fare from Avalon’s famed eateries followed by a fashion show featuring Bert’s Big Adventure families and Atlanta celebrities modeling more than 100 looks carefully curated by Avalon’s retailers. CBS provided previews of the event, where all proceeds raised helped provide a magical, all expenses-paid, five-day journey to Walt Disney World for children with chronic and terminal illnesses and their families through Bert’s Big Adventure.
  1. Set high atop Buckhead’s five-star Mandarin Oriental hotel is the largest high-rise condominium home in Atlanta, a two-story unfinished unit that’s part of the final phase of Wilbert client The Residences at Mandarin Oriental. The penthouse, which is on the market, can be custom designed or the buyer can use the floorplan from architect Robert Tretsch, director of Harrison Design’s Modern Studio, who was enlisted to create a design for the 10,000-square-foot space. To read more about your potential future home, check out this Atlanta Magazine piece.


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.

Two Icons Leave An Indelible Mark on Atlanta


by Tony Wilbert and Mark Braykovich

Carl Sanders being sworn in as governor. Photo: AP.

The passing of two Atlanta icons – former Governor Carl Sanders and real estate magnate Herman Russell – rekindles several fond memories for Tony Wilbert, who wrote about Russell during the 1990s and 2000s, and Mark Braykovich, who worked for Gov. Sanders at the law firm Troutman Sanders until 2013.

Most people remember Sanders as the progressive Democrat who pushed to desegregate schools and the state capitol, but Mark also recalls him as the brilliant legal strategist who served as counsel to many of the deans of Atlanta business, such as Tom Cousins.

At Troutman Sanders, legions of much-younger lawyers regularly marched up to his 52nd floor office – where Sanders held court from his old governor’s chair – to solicit his advice or approval. Several of them would proudly tell you “I’m a Sanders guy,” meaning they had been handpicked by him to work at the firm he founded after losing his second gubernatorial bid to Jimmy Carter in the early 1970s.

Sanders always took time to chat. Just wander into his office and he would regale you with stories about politics past and present, his meeting with JFK, and his wife Betty’s artwork that hung in his office.

Even in his later years, Sanders’ mind remained sharp and he would rifle out tough questions. He also was smart enough to know when he needed to pass the reins at Troutman Sanders, choosing a young partner, Bob Webb, to succeed him. The move paid huge dividends as Webb orchestrated mergers, geographic expansion and unprecedented growth for Troutman Sanders.

Russell was similarly brilliant and successful, says Tony. The construction firm he founded, H.J. Russell & Co., played a role in building numerous Atlanta landmarks. Look out across the Atlanta skyline, notes Tony, and you’ll see them: Centennial Olympic Park, the Georgia Dome, the Atlanta Federal Center, Georgia-Pacific Plaza, Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.

Herman Russell in front of one of his many Atlanta projects. Photo: Lanna Swindler.

He was a trailblazer known for knocking down racial barriers and making unconventional business decisions. The one Tony remembers most was Russell’s 1996 decision to name NOT one of his children to succeed him at H.J. Russell, but an outsider, R.K. Sehgal.

Later, however, he returned leadership of the company to his family, selecting son Michael to be the CEO and his other son, Jerome, to be the company’s president.

During his unparalleled career, Russell won every major civic and commercial real estate award and recognition in Atlanta. In 2004, ULI Atlanta bestowed upon Russell its prestigious Frank Carter Community Achievement Award named for the founder of Carter.

Tony also recalls Russell’s amazing work ethic. He was known for working an average of 14 hours a day for 40 years. In fact, when he stepped aside as CEO in 1996, he told (then reporter) Tony that he looked forward to working “part time.”

“Eight hours [a day] is part time for me,” Russell said.

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.

Five Reasons We’re Excited for NAREE 2014


by Caroline Wilbert

We’re counting down the days until NAREE. Here’s why.

The National Association of Real Estate Editors hosts a great annual conference, drawing some of the country’s leading journalists who cover real estate, as well as top-notch speakers from the industry. Last year, we convinced the organization to host the conference in Atlanta. It was awesome! This year, both Tony Wilbert and Suong Nguyen from The Wilbert Group will head to Houston June 11-14.

Five things we like about NAREE:

Senator Johnny Isakson being interviewed by the media during NAREE 2013 in Atlanta.

#1 It’s fun to talk real estate with top journalists including NAREE President Daniel Taub from Bloomberg News and NAREE Board Chair Kris Hudson from The Wall Street Journal.

#2 The Wilbert Group has a lot of real estate clients (residential, office, multifamily, hospitality, retail, etc.) and NAREE’s conference is a great time to pitch their stories and release news.

#3 This year, several of our clients are sponsoring the conference including Hubzu and Camana Bay. The CEO of another client, CBRE Global Investors, will be speaking.

Mark Toro, North American Properties managing partner, and Kris Hudson, last year’s NAREE president, overlooking the Atlanta skyline.

#4 It’s a great learning experience. The speakers are always heavy hitters and the conversations interesting. Here’s this year’s lineup.

#5 NAREE includes “field trips” within its host city. It will be fascinating to see Houston through a real estate lens. A lot of our clients are doing work in Houston; it’s a booming economy and (like Atlanta) a great real estate town.

Five Tips to Generate PR Success for Professional Services Firm


by Caroline Wilbert

One of the specialties of our Atlanta PR firm is working with professional services clients. Our client base includes a law firm, a marketing consulting firm, a recruiting firm and several real estate brokerage firms.

While professional services firms may not generate a lot of breaking news (they don’t break ground on buildings, open restaurants or introduce new products), they are teeming with experts who can opine on trends and offer industry insights. Here are five ways to capitalize on that expertise:

#1 Introduce clients to journalists over breakfasts and lunches. Next time those journalists need expert sources, they are likely to call people they know.

#2 Write thought leadership byliners and guest blogs. In today’s environment, editors, particularly at trade publications, need content and are willing to publish smart pieces from industry experts.

Guest columns like this one from CBRE help highlight your expertise.

#3 Leverage data/research. If professional services firms do their own research or surveys, that data is excellent fodder for media pitches, press releases and branded content.

#4 White papers. Turn the client’s expertise into a white paper. Put that white paper on the client’s website, send it out via email to key prospects, pitch the media and pull out key charts/stats for social media.

Real estate law firm Hartman Simons’ blog updates readers on what’s happening in the industry.

#5 Blog. Every company can become its own media company by creating content that is useful, entertaining and relevant to key audiences. Professional services firms, stocked with experts who work across multiple clients and see emerging trends, are well-equipped to publish consistently high-quality content.

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 Insights on Atlanta Startup Scene


by Josh Guterman

As part of its “Catalysts for Growth: a Game Changing Conversation” speaker series, Hines Atlanta focused Oct. 30 on venture capital. We were pleased that Hines, one of the country’s leading real estate firms, invited The Wilbert Group to the event. Relatively new to Atlanta, I enjoyed the opportunity to learn about the local startup scene and to make connections in my new community. The session underscored Atlanta’s growing national reputation as a nexus for startups and highlighted the need for more local venture capital.

John Heagy of Hines Atlanta moderated the panel, which included Alan Taetle, general partner, Noro-Moseley Partners; Bernice P. Dixon, president and chairman, Atlanta Technology Angels; and John C. Yates, partner-in-charge of technology practice, Morris, Manning and Martin LLP.

Panelists discuss capital investment in Atlanta technology startups. From left: Moderator John Heagy; Andrew Taetle; Bernice P. Dixon; John C. Yates.

Here are the top five points from the panel:

#1 Atlanta is undercapitalized. Compared to other regions with booming technology sectors, Atlanta is underserved by venture capitalists. “There is a lot of competition in Silicon Valley, and a lot of competition in Boston, Northern Virginia and New York,” Yates said. “If they (investors) can go to this region—particularly the southeast where Atlanta is the capital—and find very exciting companies, they have much greater opportunity to invest in these businesses at valuations they find more attractive.”

#2 Atlanta has great talent. Thanks to reasonable real estate prices and a proximity to top-tier universities, Atlanta has a highly educated, tech-savvy workforce. Investors also like the culture of loyalty versus the job-hopping culture of Silicon Valley. “We tend to have people who stay in an industry and get deep in a company and that is very attractive to investors and entrepreneurs,” Dixon said. “People will stick with you over the years, help develop (your organization) and capital gets expanded into the ecosystem. It also contributes to higher valuation.”

#3 An overwhelming majority of investment comes from outside of Atlanta. Ninety percent of capital that funds Atlanta’s small companies is from outside the region. Of the 65 venture capital firms that participated in the Venture Atlanta Conference 2013 on Oct. 22, 51 were from outside of Georgia. Panelists agreed that external investment is essential for growth, but desired more investment from the Atlanta community. “It sure would be nice to have a bit more local capital, because it tends to be earlier and know the people a little bit better,” said Taetle. “It would be great for it (outside investment) to be less than 90 percent. It doesn’t have to be at 50 either, but somewhere in between.”

#4 Atlanta needs more mid-sized public companies. After the burst of the dot-com bubble in the late 1990s, few local technology companies have gone through the public offering process. Many who consider an IPO also run a secondary campaign to shop the company for sale. “Most of our companies have been acquired in the tech space,” said Taetle. “We need to build a real nice cadre of public companies that can be acquisition vehicles again.”

#5 There is tremendous opportunity for Atlanta’s small businesses in the E-commerce and health care sectors. Between the CDC, Athena Health and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, there is a large—relatively untapped—market for businesses in the research and technology sectors. “Those kinds of (organizations) tend to spawn research, tend to spawn technology, and other companies,” said Dixon. “So we’re intensely watching health care and think Atlanta will prosper from that.”

Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport is also a remarkable asset for companies as retailers shift their business model to same-day delivery logistics. “You’ll want to be located near transportation hubs,” Dixon said. “It changes a lot and it really puts Atlanta in a great position as a transportation hub and as a logistics center.”