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Meet Message Maker Tommy Chang, VP of Marketing at HomeLister

Behind the never ending flow of growth company headlines is a group of innovative marketing and communications pioneers. These pros skillfully craft their company’s story into a media-worthy conversation and we think their methods are as interesting as their stories that break through. 

This week we spoke with Tommy Chang, VP of Marketing of online home selling platform, HomeLister, to learn more about what the world of communications looks like from his point of view. 

How has communications and PR helped to shape your business? 

Communications and PR have brought a lot of awareness to HomeLister, helping explain our story, what we’re trying to accomplish and how we’re different. Particularly on the consumer side, our communications strategy has played a significant role in helping us grow in key markets, especially New York City and Los Angeles, which happen to be two of the largest media markets in the country. We’re even growing in Chicago, a market that we’re not even live in yet!

What is one thing you have learned about success in PR and communications?

I’ve learned that PR is a longer term play. I think sometimes marketing leaders are used to instant gratification and don’t realize that good PR takes time to build. At the same time, I feel confident that PR will continue to provide a good path for growth. Since we ramped up our PR efforts, we’ve seen a correlation with growth in our organic traffic, which we consider a good measure of success. 

What has been your favorite company press piece– and why?

I’ve really enjoyed working on all our company press announcements. Our series A announcement was especially fun. The interviews we did for Forbes and Fortune have given us a lot of reach, especially within the real estate industry. I guess what excites me the most are the placements that impact consumers. I’d say that collectively, the press pieces we’ve been able to secure add a lot of legitimacy to what we’re doing, which translates into goodwill for our customers. For our company, Facebook has been a great place to amplify our press exposure, and the best part is seeing how many customers weigh in with positive comments about working with HomeLister in response. 

What are the brands you look up to– and why?

This may sound cliche, but I really look up to Nike and Apple, especially what they’re doing in the marketing world. I believe that both companies truly understand the digital side and the brand side, which is very rare. They also understand the value of having a strong brand and aligning themselves with the right people and endorsements. I like how Nike doesn’t shy away from controversy like their campaign they launched with Colin Kaepernick. Similarly, I admire how Apple addresses many social issues, like with their Racial Equity and Justice Initiative.  

I strongly believe that having a great product is key to any successful marketing campaign.  The aforementioned brands have great products, as does HomeLister.  Having great products that live up to its promises helps build brand equity and customer loyalty, while making my job as a marketer much easier.

What is the one tech tool your marketing team could not live without? 

Definitely Jira. Interestingly, Jira started out as a tool for software developers, but we’ve adapted it for use on the marketing side to be more of a project/task management tool. Because I manage multiple people, Jira gives me an important high-level glimpse into what everyone is doing so that we can ensure we are on track and moving the business forward. 

Have you actually given an elevator pitch and did it work?

The closest I came to an elevator pitch was when I was running the marketing and eCommerce group at Misfit, a company that manufactured fitness trackers and smart watches before being acquired by the Fossil Group. I was working our booth at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas where I spent several days talking to thousands of people answering every possible question about our products. As each day went on, I could feel the equivalent of my “elevator pitch” getting better and better. Even though the experience was intense and exhausting, by the end of the week I felt like I had made significant progress with my language and positioning. 

If you could hire one famous person to be on your comms team or to be a company spokesperson, who would it be? 

I would pick Dennis Haysbert, the Allstate guy, to be the spokesperson for HomeLister. Every time I see him and hear his voice he comes across as super confident and reassuring. He’d be great at explaining the value and convenience that HomeLister provides to home sellers.

If you could have a billboard with your company’s name on it anywhere in the world, where would you put it? 

That’s a tough one, but I’d have to say Disneyland. Not only would that give us exposure locally (HomeLister is based in Los Angeles), but it would reach all the people visiting from across the country. I think people would be really intrigued if they saw a HomeLister billboard in place of where Mickey Mouse’s face was supposed to be! They’d definitely want to learn more about us. 

What was the best corporate gift you ever received?

I’ve been lucky to receive a lot of great corporate gifts, but if I could only pick one it would be tickets to see the San Francisco 49ers the first year they were playing in their new stadium. I’m a big fan and it was my son’s first football game. We sat in the Google suite which afforded us so many perks, especially when it came to the food and drink. The only problem is that my son doesn’t understand why he can’t always watch games from the Google suite!

What’s your personal PR superpower?

My personal PR superpower is working with the RAISE team. You make me look good.

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