In late July 2012, NAR is launching the first of a three-part campaign using e-mails and browser ads to make home owners aware of the value of home ownership and introduce them to NAR and HouseLogic as their allies in support of home ownership. This page answers common questions about the campaign.
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 free 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 home ownership, increase the value of the REALTOR® brand, and enhance NAR’s lobbying efforts by establishing a marriage of common interest with home owners on federal housing-related public policy issues. This consumer outreach campaign, designed to help maintain current federal incentives for home ownership, 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 direct-to-consumer media push to all approximately 75 million home owners in the U.S. and an additional 7 million or so renters who aspire to become home owners. The first e-mail and browser ads are scheduled for release in late July, and the e-mails are expected to take up to six weeks for full delivery to the roughly 82 million recipients.
The goal of NAR’s initial messages to consumers is to build awareness of the existence of federal housing incentives and to raise their awareness that home ownership helps families and communities thrive. The first phase of the campaign will also introduce them to NAR and HouseLogic as sources of information on government’s historic support of home ownership.
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 home ownership at risk. The second stage of the campaign will build on the first by educating home owners about the public policies that have historically underwritten the country’s strong home ownership culture and describe how they’re at risk in today’s tough budgetary climate. The third stage will ask home owners to take advocacy action on behalf of home ownership.
The campaign’s three-step process for engaging consumers involves awareness, education, and action.
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 home ownership in the United States. The consumer outreach strategy is a comprehensive, multi-year effort to cultivate this alliance, with the aim of multiplying the advocacy impact of both home owners and REALTORS® should the federal government, either through Congress or the executive branch, propose changes that would soften the government’s historic support for home ownership.
Q. Why would the government even consider changes to its support for something as central to the American identity as home ownership?
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 home ownership 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. Home owners already pay 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, home ownership 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 home ownership 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 public advocacy campaign (formerly known as the public awareness campaign), which generates 3 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 (since 2009, 86 million impressions on HouseLogic and 3.2 million listeners of Real Estate Today). 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 home ownership to all 75 million home owners and an additional 7 million renters who aspire to be home owners. The e-mail and browser-ad messages invite home owners to visit HouseLogic and NAR’s other resources to learn more about the contribution of home ownership to the U.S. and its economy and to make them aware of the federal government’s historic support of home ownership.
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 home ownership is happening that concerns them.
Q. Why are there three stages instead of just one?
A. There might be just one e-mail and browser-ad stage. If the federal government ultimately takes no actions that could threaten home ownership, then the campaign will consist of just the one stage, during which e-mails to home owners and browser ads simply talk about the value of home ownership and invite home owners to learn more at HouseLogic.
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 home ownership. The messages in those e-mails and browser ads will go a step further than those in the first stage to educate home owners about the country’s historic support for home ownership and the role of home ownership in building wealth and creating stability in the country.
The third stage will launch if the government begins to act on proposals harmful to home ownership, 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 home ownership.
Q. What if the government does nothing on home ownership. Has NAR reached out to consumers for nothing?
A. No. Cultivating the natural alliance between home owners and REALTORS® is a long-term goal that by itself is crucial to the health of the real estate industry. Home owners 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 home ownership and the role of federal programs and assistance in making home ownership 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 public advocacy campaign spots and related resources, including web videos and graphics, and other resources on the importance of home ownership, on their websites and other media and at events. The public advocacy campaign 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.
Q. I received an e-mail from HomeActions offering their e-newsletter to our members to reach consumers. What is their relation to NAR?
A: As we have pointed out, NAR is reaching consumers directly with a national consumer e-mail initiative. This is a multi-phased communications effort, beginning with awareness, continuing through education, persuasion, and finally, if necessary, calls to action.
HomeActions is a Pennsylvania-based company that offers real estate brokers and agents an e-newsletter service branded under the logo and name of the participating REALTOR®. HomeActions recently reached out to REALTOR® association executives with a promotion offer for their REALTOR® members. Subscribing agents and brokers pay a fee to use the company’s services. NAR does not receive any fees or payments from HomeActions.
HomeActions is, however, supporting the e-mail messaging component of NAR’s comprehensive consumer outreach efforts with links to NAR’s consumer-facing website, HouseLogic. Consumers receiving agents' newsletters through HomeActions will be able to see and respond to REALTOR Calls for Action that affect home ownership. We are testing the messaging from our members in this way to see if open and action rates may be higher.