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NAR’s Victoria Gillespie: Don’t wait for a crisis to build strength

Realtors step up amid COVID-19 crisis

During times of crisis, communities and industries are defined by those who step up. National Association of Realtors Chief Marketing and Communications Officer Victoria Gillespie said Realtors did just that.

Gillespie’s record on success speaks for itself: Under Gillespie’s leadership as chief marketing and communications officer, NAR launched “That’s Who We R,” its most successful consumer advertising campaign to date with over 2.34 billion impressions and 42.4 million social media engagements.

Gillespie sat down with HousingWire to expand on what NAR did for Realtors during these unprecedented times and how Realtors stepped up in their own communities.

HousingWire: What has been the greatest challenge Realtors have faced in the past year, and how have they overcome it?

Victoria Gillespie: Like most organizations, COVID-19 posed a significant challenge for all of our members as we watched stay-at-home orders crop up across the country. We’re starting to see things level out now and that’s partly because as an organization, we sat down very early in the crisis and examined, “What are some things that we can do to help make our members’ lives better?”

Working hand-in-hand with all of our state and local associations, one of the first things we put together is a program called Right Tools, Right Now. It is a clearinghouse of everything we thought our members needed to take care of themselves and their businesses during COVID-19, and it includes everything from financial wellness resources to tools to guide members as their businesses become more virtual.

We even added a telemedicine benefit to the program, which is called Members TeleHealth. It allows NAR members and their families to see a doctor from their homes or their offices. We made sure to keep all of these resources are centrally located on our website to make it as easy as possible for Realtors to find what they need.

To date, the Right Tools, Right Now program has approximately 391 different resources and support items available and more than 158,000 of our members signed on to use it. We’re extremely proud of how it’s been a valuable resource to Realtors. Many of the Right Tools, Right Now resources, particularly those around running a virtual business and receiving telemedicine, will benefit NAR’s members for years to come.

HW: Has your marketing department played a role in getting more information out to Realtors during the crisis? What role has it played?

Victoria Gillespie: Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, NAR’s marketing team has focused efforts on sharing resources and information with Realtors that will help their businesses survive and continue to thrive. Pivot in Place launched March 23, as a weekly video series to, as the name suggests, help Realtors pivot during a crisis.

Each Monday, NAR leadership offers tips for businesses to remain effective, keep clients informed, better communicate, improve employee safety and professional development, address legal concerns and lock in on current economic predictions for the real estate market. As I mentioned earlier, NAR also relaunched the Right Tools, Right Now initiative to support members through these uncertain times.

Finally, Realtor safety continues to be a priority at NAR and our marketing team is passionate about keeping members safe. Planning a safety strategy is imperative and could make the difference between life and death for Realtors. On June 23, the Realtor Safety program offered a free webinar presented by Carl Carter, Jr. It was the highest attended webinar in the history of the Realtor Safety Program with more than 3,000 registrants and 2,000 live attendees. In addition to reducing everyday risks, this webinar also covered COVID-19 safety tips to keep Realtors and their clients safe and healthy.

HW: The upcoming August magazine issue looks at the Women of Influence, how have you seen women stepping up during this time?

VG: As I’ve had the chance to look around and assess all members of my team and community, I firmly believe that all of us – men and women – have stepped up in many ways to battle the virus together. Many individuals have lost jobs, incomes and loved ones, forcing their everyday journey to be extremely difficult.

The ability of our team to be well prepared and work coherently prior to the virus has continued to allow our association to thrive. You cannot wait until a crisis is presented to build strength and unity, you must begin building strong leadership at the foundation.

HW: How have you personally stepped up in new ways since the pandemic began?

Victoria Gillespie: During uncertain and difficult times, we recognize the immense need from others for our support. I’m blessed to have had the opportunity to donate to local food banks, volunteer within my church community and virtually welcome new individuals into their walks of faith.

Gillespie is not only a 2020 HousingWire Women of Influence winner, but she is also featured heavily in the August issue of HousingWire Magazine. To read more about her and her story, sign up for HW+ before Friday, July 10 to get on the mailing list in time to have the August magazine issue delivered to you.

HousingWire will also donate $5 to the MBA Opens Doors Foundation for every social media post you tag us in with the August issue, so make sure you get one!

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