Executive Spotlight: Christine Schultz, Colliers International

Christine Schultz, global vice president of marketing and research for Colliers International, talks about the company's efforts to deliver value with its new blog.

ChristineSchultzheadshot-full lengthBy Leah Etling, Contributing Writer

Content marketing in the commercial real estate realm makes sense, from a PR perspective. Why not showcase the expertise of investment, development or brokerage leadership with smart writing about trends and business practices? For many companies, it’s a nice idea that might encounter many logistical hurdles along the way. So a relatively new blog from Colliers International, Colliers Insights, pulls off a rather impressive feat – providing insightful, visual and shareable content relevant to commercial real estate.

With a soft launch in October 2014, Colliers Insights is a relatively new project for the company’s marketing team, and one that made intuitive sense. Christine Schultz, global vice president of marketing and research, shared the scoop.

CPE: Can you tell me why Colliers sees content marketing as important to its real estate goals?

Schultz: The blog has really been a natural extension of how our Colliers advisors want to share insights and moving that into the digital realm. Websites can be very formal, with hard to find information in a quick, easy fashion. The blog provides a casual entry point for digital users to engage with our thought-leading content.

CPE: How would you describe the overall experience you are trying to provide for readers?

Schultz: We want it to be fun for the audience and share content in an engaging way. It’s really important for us to offer the blog as an authentic experience and to give users a sense of what it’s like to work with Colliers and to feel the magic of our culture for those interested in joining Colliers.

CPE: One thing the blog does especially well is its presentation of thought leadership by Colliers executives around the nation and even globally. How do you compel their participation?

Schultz: I have been pleasantly surprised—we have had a huge outpouring of interest from around the world. It has been interesting to see that we have active bloggers who have reached out, wanting to participate, and we also have people who are interested in participating online for the first time. It runs the gamut, but we haven’t had to compel people to participate.

CPE: Who are the writers?

Schultz: We are currently featuring more than 20 bloggers from around the world: CEOs, executives, practice group leaders, researchers, marketers and brokers on the ground.

CPE: What is the company’s overall strategy toward digital marketing?

Schultz: Colliers embraced digital engagement early on. We were pretty much an early adopter. Because of that, we’re experiencing massive growth in followers and online visitors. We’ve been at the forefront, and I think our internal experts and executives are used to that. They’re not fearful.

CPE: Who would you define as your target audience for this blog?

Schultz: Within organizations across all sectors, we’re really targeting executives and companies that want to own, invest in, lease or manage commercial real estate. We cast a wide net, but we target an audience in commercial real estate and share best practices that will be of interest to this audience and strategies to help them arrive at the “aha!” moment of what we’re sharing. We want to provide them with information that’s relevant and not easily found through other channels.

CPE: What has that audience shared with you about the type of content that is useful to them in their business lives?

Schultz: What we’re hearing is that they want us to tell them about the future. Our Colliers advisors are professional trend spotters, and that’s what we’re trying to show by sharing the future with our clients. They love it. Topic-wise, nothing is off limits, as long as it’s current: workspace, urbanization, public spaces, transit and city planning have all been featured.

CPE: It’s fair to say that anyone who uses a computer or smartphone these days can find themselves inundated with content. What do you think makes this project stand out in that crowded space?

Schultz: I think it comes back to being authentic. Within marketing organizations and professionals, there’s a debate that still goes on as to whether or not content is king. I think it is hugely important to provide valuable content and content that is offered in a real way. We all know when we’re being sold. I think as a sales organization, you have to be really mindful of this. Providing insight in an authentic way is the personality that differentiates Colliers, and you can’t dispute it because it’s true. I think this is what’s helping us stand out.

CPE: What advice would you have for other real estate firms who might see blogging’s value, but are concerned about ROI and logistical hurdles?

Schultz: I think this gets back to culture. Maybe firms are really challenged by their own organizational structures: Do they have executive support to be disruptive and create thought-leading content that may be contrarian in some fashion? I think that it speaks more to that structure, versus whether or not you should blog. I’m really blessed to be the head of marketing at a firm that gets it.

CPE: We noticed the blog’s editorial team likes “home-baked goods and sneakers,” among other things. What was the most interesting baking project a team member brought to the office this season?

Schultz: We’ve been so busy that our baked goods lately have consisted of doughnuts. But we love to come together and enjoy some treats.