Oracle Group: Can you tell us a little bit more about Property4Media?
Henry Hemming: So, at heart we’re a social network connecting the property sector with the media.
Created in 2005, Property4Media connects approximately 1500 journalists with the PR contacts from around 1000 property brands. Our aim is to help property organisations proactively secure seamless media exposure and, just as importantly, never miss out on great opportunities that they should be featured in.
The great advantage about a social network is that people can see live opportunities, whereas a lot of other PR tech is focused on methodical data mining and campaign building – which is an approach we’ve avoided.
We’re heavily focused on the UK property sector, from new builds to commercial, resi to personal finance. But there are lots of international property brands using the site, connecting with UK journalists and with some overseas property journalists who use Property4Media.
Our PR subscribers divide evenly between in-house PR pros at property companies and communications professionals working for PR agencies, including of course the wonderful Oracle who have been customers ever since Caroline Coskry launched the agency in 2011. I like to feel we’ve grown alongside each other, and we’ve certainly watched your growth with admiration.
At the heart of our tech is the ability for media to source news and images from the site, and to connect and communicate via alerts, messages, and instant chat with property PR professionals.
The media issue hundreds of requests on email alerts every month – we call these Journalist Alerts – which sometimes produce a feeding frenzy among our pool of PRs because the opportunities are so significant.
For PRs, Property4Media offers the ability to publish press releases, create press centres with their media materials, image galleries, backgrounders, and profiles of their PR staff. Our PRs build up their own private ‘Network’ within the site – connecting with media and even with other industry PRs.
Oracle Group: What is your role within the organisation?
Henry Hemming: I’m the CEO and I created Property4Media in 2005, along with its sister brand Homes4Media which targets the homes, interiors, and lifestyle sector.
In 2003 I had set up TravMedia in the UK, the equivalent site for the travel industry, and soon after launched Food4Media here too. Those two sites operate via a joint venture company in the UK, of which I’m the Managing Director. We’re the UK/Ireland licensee for TravMedia, a brand which his hugely successful worldwide.
Back in 2013, my company TravMedia UK developed the idea of IMM (International Media Marketplace) for TravMedia, an exhibition-style event connecting tourism brands with travel media. The UK show now runs at the QEII Centre in Westminster each year, and TravMedia internationally is now running IMMs in many locations worldwide including New York, Sydney, Berlin, and Paris.
In 2005, I set up News4Media as a company with the sole rights to use the TravMedia technology for new industry verticals, which led to the creation of Property4Media and Homes4Media as its two launch sites.
We’ve also developed the TravMedia technology further for all the sites, launching Journalist Alerts and the Network features on the sites, allowing the media and PRs to connect, chat, and review each other’s content!
In 2016, News4Media reached an agreement to acquire the Property Press Awards, an awards platform created in 2010. We’ve now run the awards as a Property4Media event for five years, at venues including City Hall, The Museum of London, and the Leadenhall Building, and we’ve always attracted an amazing turnout of A-List journalists and PRs – always including of course the team from Oracle Group – together with top industry execs, many of whom are our judges.
Oracle Group: What sort of relationship do journalists that use Property4Media have with you. Do they call you for help?
Henry Hemming: So, we’re issuing around 200 Journalist Alerts a month for A-list writers such as Zoe Dare Hall, Sophie Vening, Ruth Bloomfield, Carol Lewis, Andrea Dean, Hugh Graham, Fred Redwood and Melissa Lawford.
The stories they create from the information PRs then send them appears as stories in media titles including The Times/Sunday Times, The Telegraph, Evening Standard, Metro, Daily Mail, Wall Street Journal, The Sun, BBC news and radio, The Negotiator, House Beautiful, i-Build magazine, and Stylist.
Some journalists go into the site to create their Alerts, whereas others pick up the phone to Louise Naude, our content editor, who I think the media see as the fourth emergency service!
She’s always there to hear their brief and help create an Alert that will get journalists the right answers (rather than inundation). Louise also spends time helping writers use the site’s other features such as the ability to publish their latest stories, develop a network, and receive personalised content alerts.
The appeal of Journalist Alerts is that writers get all the information, stats, images or interviews they need to complete their story – and quickly. The alternative for journalists is attempting to outreach to people via their own email groups or by tweeting, both of which can often produce only limited results. As one journalist famously remarked, “issuing a Journalist Alerts is a bit like using the Suez Canal, rather than sailing the whole way around Africa”…
Oracle Group: Oracle has been working with you since our conception over 10 years ago. How has the platform developed over this period?
Henry Hemming: When we launched in 2005 our features set was news, images, press centres and Journalist Alerts. We’ve added a host of new features since then. ‘Network’, the ability to create your own bespoke network within the site, went live in 2011 and has proved a key growth driver. In 2017 we created ‘Updates’, allowing people to issue messages on the site that could only be seen by selected groups of users. We added ‘Feed’ in 2017, which curates all the breaking news, Updates, and information anyone is subscribed to and consolidates it all into a single scrolling page.
There are a host of other features to do with reminders, notifications, personalised alerts that are too many to explain. The key thing is that the site is immensely user friendly and users are good at hunting out the tools to best help them!
Oracle Group: At Oracle, after an initial 6 weeks of almost deathly silence after the lockdown our world suddenly became very busy as housebuilders and the property market realised these were very much in demand. What was the impact at Property4Media?
Henry Hemming: Agreed, the sound of silence was palpable! We were initially concerned but it wasn’t long before the sector proved its resilience. International property was rocky for longer but even there we are witnessing a powerful bounceback. Property4Media was up in 2020, which is an outcome I’d have settled for at the beginning of the pandemic without question, and we’ve managed to march forward in 2021!
Oracle Group: How do you see Property4Media developing in the next 10 years?
Henry Hemming: We see growth for the digital brand continuing steadily in the years ahead, with face-to-face events possibly our greatest opportunity for further rapid growth.
We’d certainly consider mimicking sister brand TravMedia’s incredible success with live networking events connecting brands and media.
We’re also planning to extend the Property Press Awards in 2022 and are actively considering a gala dinner-style event for the first time ever, at a five-star location! Victoria Furse, our Business Development Manager, is actively taking soundings from within the industry as we count down to launching the annual Awards process soon.
Beyond that, we’re always open to ideas that would support any niche within our community, from new builds through to international property.
Oracle Group: We were able to enjoy a fabulous night at the Property4Media awards, do you see any future in adding some PR awards to this event to make it more inclusive?
Henry Hemming: We had a great evening, and it was fabulous to see the Oracle team out in force. Phil Spencer, our host, did a great job at the helm, and it was wonderfully moving to reunite with our industry friends and colleagues at a live event.
I think PR awards are on the cards at the Property Press Awards either next year or soon. The TravMedia Awards – operated by our sister brand TravMedia – celebrate the best in travel media, PR and influence and we’ve witnessed a phenomenal entry for this year’s Awards (set to be announced at The Londoner, Leicester Square on 2 February). Given the success of their PR categories, ranging from PR Professional of the Year to Campaign of the Year, I would hope we’ll get industry-wide support to bring recognition for PR talent within the Property Press Awards platform … very soon!
Wishing a Happy Christmas to the Oracle Group team and to all your clients!