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Working Hard, Playing Harder – Banker & Tradesman

This past December, I was honored to be featured in Banker & Tradesman, a great publication who also named Nickerson the best PR firm of 2015! I am happy to share the full feature with you all below – enjoy!

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Lisa Nickerson was a teenage entrepreneur with her own small business who later studied finance and marketing at Boston College and began her real estate career while still in college. After graduation she worked in finance, ultimately launching her own public relations firm, and later a real estate marketing firm, in Waltham, where she has 20 employees and works on projects in the Boston area and beyond. Nickerson believes in balancing hard work with fun. She leaves a shopping list in the employee kitchen to ensure everyone’s favorite snack is stocked at all times and she recently took them all to a shooting range for team building.

Q: How do you split your time between real estate and your PR work?

A: It varies week to week. I started the brokerage firm a year and a half ago. It’s a residential, on-site brokerage firm. We were working with groups and would have to coordinate with the sales teams. I started a sister company where we work all integrated together. That worked on one project that went great and now we’re working with third parties.

Some people think of us as a PR firm, but we do comprehensive, integrated marketing. We do the creative, branding, positioning, the social digital video and events. I started as a residential broker while I was attending Boston College, then I became a commercial broker, and I found my biggest challenge as a broker was managing different vendors at the same time, because then you’re project managing a lot. I started the PR firm because I felt having an integrated platform would be easier for real estate people, who generally have a lot of balls in the air. They’re trying to get a lot of things done at the same time. I understand real estate and I know how to get things done.

Q: Are your PR clients mostly real estate and related companies?

A: Yes, but we also represent technology companies and legal, accounting and software companies. We do everything from residential and rentals all the way through the towers in Manhattan that we’re repositioning and placemaking. We pride ourselves on running the gamut. The more people we add to the firm, the more people are taking leadership roles in different real estate organizations. We attend a lot of different events and conferences. I’m really involved with the Urban Land Institute and we go to those events without fail. My whole goal is for us to be seen as a peer and not a vendor. Center Plaza is a really good example for us. Shorenstein (the new owner of Center Plaza) basically [asked us] what [we] would do, and we applied every single position to reposition and placemake Center Plaza – but we do that on all projects.

Q: What are other brokers getting wrong?

A: Social media is number one. And social media is number two. From what I’ve seen, some of the smartest people in real estate don’t understand social media and don’t understand how marketing has changed dramatically in the past five years. They think because they’re not on Twitter, that Twitter doesn’t work, or because they don’t use social media, that social media doesn’t attract people to real estate. That’s the biggest mistake people are making right now. It’s not adopting all the new forms of communications that people are using in order to market properties.

People who are embracing it now are going to be well ahead. There’s always another downturn in real estate and if you’re really well positioned on social media, then you’re going to be able to maintain a base of people who are already interested in what you do and how you do it. If you don’t do it, then all of a sudden when you’re trying to get news out there, you’re going to be spending more time to try to catch up. Social media followings aren’t built overnight. It happens over time. You build constituents and loyalists who are interested in what you do when the market is hot. Like right now. You’re going to need those people.

Q: Who have you learned the most from?

A: I learned a lot from Jack Kerrigan, who is a partner at Avison Young. He always says, “The power of now,” meaning, don’t wait to do anything. He’s always on and always ready. He’s great. I worked with him for a long time and I like his style. I like his immediacy and how he gets things done and always follows through. He’s always ready and prepared. With Jack, I’ve always felt like he is so consistent and that’s why I think he’s one of the top brokers.

Q: How would you describe your style?

A: Work hard, play hard! I think I can be intense; that can be good and it can be challenging. I can get excited about stuff when things go well and when they don’t, I can get excited about that, too. I’m not a micromanager at all. I just expect people to get their work done. That style doesn’t work for everyone, but it attracts a certain type of person to the company. I want it to be fun, because it can be very demanding.

Q: What do you do when you’re not working?

A: I have three teenagers so I run between their events a lot. I also work out a lot. I’m training for my first IronMan triathlon in Maryland in October. I’ve done four Boston Marathons. That takes a lot of time. I’m a much better boss the more I work out. It helps me get rid of stress. I’ve become a swimmer and I love spin. Now my kids are coming to the gym with me and I love sharing that with them.

Q: What’s coming in 2016?

A: I’m hearing people be cautious. We’re all a little traumatized from 2008 and 2009. The flip side is we have so many bullish clients coming online with great projects. We keep seeing such strong demand that I’m seeing, for us, another record-breaking year in multiple markets. I’m excited about it.

I’m a lot more conservative than I used to be because of the recession. Because we worked with so many different groups and see so much coming down the pike with such strong demand. I feel really good about 2016.

Five Favorite Quotes (Also Known As Lisa-isms):

  1. Don’t get ready; be ready.
  2. The power of now.
  3. Cost is only an issue in the absence of value.
  4. Carpe diem.
  5. Work hard, play hard.

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Thank you for reading – be sure to connect with me on Twitter at @LisaNickerson!

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