In late July 2012, NAR launched a communications campaign using e-mails and browser ads to educate consumers about ways in which public policies affect homeownership in this country, and begin building a network of consumers to support homeownership issues. This page answers common questions about NAR’s consumer communications outreach efforts.
Q. What is the consumer e-mail campaign all about?
A. The campaign is part of a broader consumer outreach strategy that the NAR Leadership Team approved as part of the association’s long-term strategic plan. In its consumer outreach strategy, NAR uses national TV and radio ads, its consumer-facing Real Estate Today radio program and HouseLogic website, social media, and earned media through news stories to build a direct relationship with consumers on behalf of its members.
NAR’s consumer outreach strategy is designed to help extend REALTORS®’ relationship with consumers to the life cycle of homeownership, increase the value of the REALTOR® brand, and enhance NAR’s lobbying efforts by establishing a marriage of common interest with homeowners on federal housing-related public policy issues. This consumer outreach campaign, designed to help maintain current federal incentives for homeownership, is the first time NAR has marshaled all of its consumer-focused communications for a public advocacy cause.
The consumer e-mail campaign is a monthly direct-to-consumer push to all approximately 75 million homeowners in the U.S. and approximately 5 million renters who aspire to become homeowners.
The campaign’s three-step process for engaging consumers involves awareness, education, and action. The goal of NAR’s initial consumer messaging is to build awareness of the existence of federal housing incentives and to raise their awareness that homeownership helps families and communities thrive. The first phase of the campaign will also introduce them to the Home Ownership Matters Campaign, through the HouseLogic Action Center, as a source of information on government’s historic support of homeownership.
Release of the e-mails and new browser ads in the second and third stages of the campaign depends on actions by Congress and federal agencies that could put public support for homeownership at risk. The second stage of the campaign will build on the first by educating homeowners about the public policies that have historically underwritten the country’s strong homeownership culture and describe how they’re at risk in today’s tough budgetary climate. The third stage will ask homeowners to take advocacy action on behalf of homeownership.
Q. Why is the consumer outreach strategy needed?
A. The NAR Leadership Team has determined, after extensive study, that REALTORS® and consumers share a natural alliance on the importance of homeownership in the U.S. The consumer outreach strategy is a comprehensive, multi-year effort to cultivate this alliance, with the aim of multiplying the advocacy impact of both homeowners and REALTORS® should the federal government, either through Congress or the executive branch, propose changes that would soften the government’s historic support for homeownership.
Q. Why would the government even consider changes to its support for something as central to the American identity as homeownership?
A. Federal budget deficit pressures. The country has outstanding federal debt of more than $15 trillion. That puts enormous pressure on Congress and the president to identify ways to reduce federal spending or bring in new income to the federal treasury. Any form of incentive for homeownership thus becomes a potential source of deficit reduction. And since the real estate sector in general comprises a large portion of the U.S. gross domestic product (about 15 percent), it represents a large and largely untapped pool for funds to close the budget gap.
Q. Why shouldn’t NAR support raising taxes to help the government balance its budget? After all, each segment of the country should do its part.
A. Homeowners already pay 80-90 percent of all federal income taxes today, so they are disproportionately shouldering the burden of the federal government. What’s more, because residential real estate comprises 15 percent of the country’s gross domestic product, or about $2.3 trillion annually in economic activity, it creates far more in wealth for the country than it receives in assistance from the government, so changes that would increase hurdles to the development and transfer of real estate would reduce the sector’s wealth-generating ability at a time when the country can ill afford that.
More importantly, homeownership is a fundamental tenet of the United States as a society of free individuals who shape and act as stewards of their country. For that reason, the federal government has historically supported homeownership as a fundamental value of the country. To acquiesce to reductions in incentives would be to start down a road that could lead to the dismantling of this historic pact between the country and its citizens.
Q. How does the e-mail campaign fit into NAR’s broader consumer outreach initiative?
A. The consumer outreach initiative is a comprehensive, integrated, and multiyear campaign that involves communicating through every type of media channel available today. It involves NAR’s consumer advertising campaign, which generates 4 billion consumer impressions each year through 14,000 national broadcast and cable TV and radio ad spots on popular programs. It also involves NAR’s popular consumer-facing media channels, Houselogic.com and Real Estate Today radio, which together generate millions of consumer impressions annually (every month HouseLogic generates 4 million impressions, Real Estate Today has a monthly listenership of 7.5 million). And it involves 2 billion impressions generated each year through “earned” news stories in newspapers, magazines, and on websites, blogs, radio, and TV shows, much of which is generated by NAR’s press releases and media outreach. Lastly, it involves the association’s growing social media presence, which accounts for 2.5 million impressions per month.
The online e-mail and browser-ad campaign ties all of these efforts together by providing a single, concise message about the value of homeownership to all 75 million homeowners and an additional 5 million aspiring homeowners. The e-mail and browser-ad messages encourage homeowners to visit the HouseLogic Action Center to learn more about the contribution of homeownership to the U.S. and its economy and to make them aware of the federal government’s historic support of homeownership.
Combined, these efforts aim to create a narrative environment that’s conspicuous enough to break through today’s saturated communication channels and deliver a compelling message to busy, distracted consumers that something about homeownership is happening that concerns them.
Q. Why are there three stages instead of just one?
A. The awareness stage will continue throughout the campaign; we will always be reaching out to consumers to generate awareness and identify people with whom we can further engage on the issues.
The second and third stages will be launched only as developments dictate. The second stage will launch if the government entertains proposals to scale back federal assistance to homeownership. The messages in those e-mails and browser ads will go a step further than those in the first stage to educate homeowners about the country’s historic support for homeownership and the role of homeownership in building wealth and creating stability in the country.
The third stage will launch if the government begins to act on proposals harmful to homeownership, and the messages in those e-mails and browser ads will invite consumers to take action on their own behalf to let the government know they support maintaining the government’s support of homeownership.
Q. What if the government does nothing on homeownership. Has NAR reached out to consumers for nothing?
A. No. Cultivating the natural alliance between homeowners and REALTORS® is a long-term goal that by itself is crucial to the health of the real estate industry. Homeowners and REALTORS® share common interests and that will not change regardless of what the federal government does in the near-term.
Q. What role in this campaign is envisioned for members and state and local association staff?
A. Members can reinforce NAR’s communications by sharing with their customers and clients their thoughts on the importance of homeownership and the role of federal programs and assistance in making homeownership accessible to millions of households. They can leverage the consumer-focused resources on HouseLogic and the Real Estate Today radio program, positioning themselves as advocates and information resources on behalf of their customers and clients.
State and local association staff can continue to use the consumer advertising spots and related resources, including web videos and graphics, and other resources on the importance of homeownership, on their websites and other media and at events. The online ad generator allows them to customize and amplify the national message for greater reach and effectiveness. They can also share NAR resources with their members.