Shopping Centers Today

JUL 2014

Shopping Centers Today is the news magazine of the International Council of Shopping Centers (ICSC)

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a multitiered launch was best, and they created LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter accounts, with a corporate blog as the linchpin of their media plan. But Kimco deter- mined that, unlike other corporate blogs, which are typically written by a h a n d f u l o f m a r k e t - ing professionals or are farmed out to third-party PR firms, this blog would be informal and that the content would be pro- vided by the company's own execu- tives, employees and tenants. "Our employees have such a wide range of expertise, and the best way to show- case and draw upon that expertise was to have authors from across the company," said Lynch. "We wanted to give people a feel for what our au- thors are really like." The Kimco blog appeared in No- vember 2011, in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of the company's ini- tial public offering. The blog struggled at first. "When we first started, we could count on one hand the number of people interested in blogging," said David F. Bujnicki, Kimco's vice presi- dent of investor relations and corpo- rate communications. And there were other worries. "We were concerned whether we'd have enough content to blog continuously," said Lynch. But slowly the content — which in those early days included stories about things like the growth of Hispanic grocery stores or offering advice on at- tracting holiday foot traffic — began to gain notice among shareholders, shop- pers and employees. One Canadian investor emailed to say how happy he was to see Kimco writing about retail- ers expanding into Canada. A post on Weight Watchers in the workplace prompted one analyst to share his own weight-loss success story. Others called in to say they liked the style and con- tent. "The comments weren't even ad- dressed to us," said Lynch. "[Manage- ment] started forwarding us the emails and messages they were receiving." The blog succeeded in branding Kimco as an accessible, knowledge- able, community-oriented real estate company. Today it gets some 5,000 page views per month and has about 50 contributing writers. The blog, updated about three times a week, continues to serve up an informal mix of personal stories from employees and tenants, plus financial updates, cartoons and ad- vice on industry best practices. The blog got national recognition in April for taking first place in the PR News Cor- porate Social Responsibility Awards, beating out media campaigns from the likes of CVS and General Motors. The Kimco blog "creates an open dialogue that engages audiences and rallies sup- port for the company's community ini- tiatives," the award judges said. Will Teichman, Kimco's direc- tor of sustainability, says he was not surprised by the recognition. As one of the earliest contributors to the blog, he knew firsthand the impact it was having. "We have over 30 offices across the United States, and it can be hard to effectively communicate to everyone what's hap- pening," said Teichman. "On almost a daily basis, I step into different offices, and in every single office, I will get people coming up and commenting to me about things they've been reading about. It's a n e n t i r e l y u n a n t i c i - pated and positive ben- efit of writing the blog." One of the most widely read and commented-on posts was written by Rick Turner, who oversees leas- ing of a Kimco portfolio in parts of Northern California and in Colorado. In 2011, Turner and his wife lost a child born prematurely. To honor their child — and raise awareness and funds for preterm births — the Turn- ers started the Tiny Feet Foundation. Rick vowed to run 12 marathons in 12 months to promote the charity, charting his progress on Kimco's blog. "Employees from all over the country sent Rick messages offering support," Lynch said. "Runners told him that if he came to their state, they'd be happy to run a marathon with him." Lynch, Bujnicki and Kimco's head of marketing are the blog's gatekeepers. They meet weekly to discuss subjects and potential contributors. If the team has not heard from a specific sector for some length of time, they will reach out to representatives with topic ideas. They also help conduct interviews, act as copy editors and make sure no trade secrets are inadvertently revealed, says Bujnicki. But in the end, it is the contribu- tors who have ultimately cultivated the blog's success. "We have people from all different walks of life — from lawyers to leasing agents — contribut- ing now to the blog," said Teichman. "It's really become a democratic ef- fort, and I think that's what people are responding so strongly to." S C T 44 S C T / J u l y 2 0 1 4 42-44_SCT_JUL14_Kimco.indd 44 6/12/14 5:57 PM

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