Event hosting is a tried and true thought-leadership strategy. A company can demonstrate its dedication to addressing an important issue by its willingness to bring parties together to hash out solutions.
But any organization that has held such forums knows special events may not have a lasting impact. They require follow up and sometimes the decision to sponsor meetings on a quarterly or annual basis. Zillow, a leading real estate and rental marketplace, convened seven city-specific events they dubbed their Housing Roadmap series in advance of the 2016 Presidential Election. These events sought to shine light on housing issues that communities are wrestling with as well as local efforts to address these challenges.
Each meeting is different. Zillow’s political engagement team puts a lot of effort into identifying the specific challenges each city faces, whether that is a lack of mortgage market in Detroit or rapid population growth in Denver. Specifically, they interview 15-20 target attendees in the months ahead of each event. Thereafter, they work with Zillow economists to develop an original presentation that directly addresses the problem surfaced during those talks.
Zillow’s unusual sensitivity to its audiences’ challenges does more than ensure a great event. As a new entrant into the advocacy space, it has created relationships with local legislators and housing experts. By the time everyone sits down at the event, these relationships have already been formed. And the high-quality research materials prove Zillow deserves its new seat at the table.