Real-Estate Development: Is it Placemaking or Peacemaking?

by Don Martelli | Public Affairs , Real Estate
September 19, 2019

At the Belfort Group, we have been working real-estate public relations for almost four decades. If you look north, west and south of the city, and even as far as Worcester, Springfield and Cape Cod, our team has their mark on commercial and mixed-use real-estate projects in Burlington, Chelmsford, Wareham, Revere, Taunton, Dartmouth, Hanover, Lexington, Cambridge, Boston and over 30 more cities and towns.

Regardless of whether the approval process goes through open town meeting, representative town meeting or a city council, these projects are never the same. The one commonality is that they are tough in that there is always a threat of contention in the community.

When we read this piece in BisNow titled, “Boston Developers Find Placemaking Pleases The Neighbors While Driving Profits,” it really hit home with our team. Is it placemaking or peacemaking?

The point is this: developers will have a vision for their project. The city, town or municipality will have a vision about what types of projects they want to fuel financial success. Somewhere in the middle is where placemaking happens.

This is where we, the Belfort Group, step in.
As Boston Globe Reporter Tim Logan pointed out recently, real-estate developers are great at producing beautiful projects, but they must include firms like the Belfort Group to their consultancy team to ensure the communications process with the town and decision makers is fluid, honest, transparent, educational and (here’s where peacemaking comes in) collaborative.

When we pitch our public affairs expertise to potential clients, we lead with one simple statement: we can get your project elected through the public process, i.e. similar to getting a politician elected to office or a ballot question approved (or in some cases, defeated).

There’s a lot that goes into these campaigns — a mix of traditional political strategy, canvassing, meet and greets as well as a heavy dose of integrated communications and PR tactics such as microsites, social media, geo-fencing, mobile messaging and more.

For over two decades, we have worked in this area and while the tactics may have changed with the times, the goal is the same — win the vote. Whether it’s placemaking or peacemaking, these projects are high risk, high reward and we love it. Frankly, we’re also pretty good at it and our successful track record proves it.

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