Week of March 20, 2000
  Editor's Choice Web Pick
   of the Week

Gallen Associates: (Mostly) 'Flack-Free'
Site Elevates Substance over Fluff

"No flack."

That's the avowed mantra for PR firm Gallen Associates and its Web site (www.gallen.com).

To which most of us would respond with a hearty "amen." The real estate industry is fairly awash in flack. Hype so often overwhelms substance that, as the Eagles once sang, "you just get numb." And by and large, this site delivers on its flack-free pledge.

If you're not familiar with Gallen Associates, the Walnut, Calif.-based company was established in Miami in 1974 before relocating to the San Francisco Bay area in 1980. Gallen has developed "image programs" for an extremely broad range of real estate industry functions (and, in recent years, has added law firms, hotel/resorts, city governments and private/political initiatives to its client base).

The point here is that these guys have some real estate smarts honed from experience - which all too often isn't the case with the folks handling real estate PR.

(In the interest of full disclosure - and no flack -- this reviewer should also mention that he has previously tapped Gallen Associates for story information. And he found their approach to be unusually straightforward.)

Strong Gateway Status

Mind you, this site seems primarily aimed at real estate journalists (an annoying and demanding crew, to be sure). Nonetheless, the site also offers value for other players in the real estate game.

For example, the Gallen Associates site is a very strong industry gateway. The "Real Estate Links" section provides cyberspace connections to more than 850 industry-related sites.

Obviously, users would be overwhelmed if those links were one undifferentiated mass. Here, though, they're broken down into 18 useful categories, ranging from "Asset Management" to "Software/Technology." And even with that huge volume of links, that site section loads very smoothly (as does the entire site).

The site's "Industry Sources" section is also useful. It provides links to, and contacts for, 21 industry groups. The source list, however, isn't anywhere near as voluminous as its links listings. Nonetheless, the linked sources do include some substantial players, including CB Richard Ellis, CitiGroup Real Estate, Ernst & Young Kenneth Leventhal Real Estate Group, Shorenstein Co. and The Urban Land Institute.

The site also includes a "News Flash" section with (you guessed it) recent news events.

In addition, if your job entails dealing with the media, this site offers some solid tips. But if you're not looking for it, you might miss this content. It's located at the bottom of the home page. (Click on the icon of the town crier.) What you'll find there is commonsensical advice on how to handle the media (an annoying and demanding crew, to be sure).

Predictably, Clients Get Higher Profile

Users, though, should be cautioned on one item here: The site's "Industry Sources" and "News Flash" sections, as well as the "Photo Download" section, appear to be largely -- if not totally - made up of Gallen Associates' clients.

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

After all, that's what these guys get paid for.

Moreover, at least on this site, users can still get some valuable information in those areas. "You're known by who your clients are" goes the old sales axiom. And in Gallen's case, the client list is high quality, which, in turn, is reflected in the onsite content. (Gallen, for example, worked in originating the concept and doing editorial consulting for the well-regarded "Ernst & Young Real Estate Online Magazine," which won Gallen the International Assn. of Business Communicators' Gold Quill award.)

Sir Thomas More Has Left
The NY Stock Exchange Building

So, no flack?

Well, no, not in any absolute sense of that phrase. But after all, expecting any for-profit entity to operate totally without self-interest would be as unrealistic as putting an unsuspecting Sir Thomas More on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

In the final analysis, then, this site's largely flack-free approach does provide some solid content that's formatted and delivered as just that: solid content. And in the often hype-inundated real estate industry, that alone scores points for www.gallen.com.



©2000 Conway Data, Inc. All rights reserved. Data is from many sources and is not warranted to be accurate or current.