GUEST POINT OF VIEW: Cathy Lightfoot is the director of sales and marketing at The Buckingham senior living community in Houston. In her role, Lightfoot oversees marketing, advertising, public relations and community relations. Since joining in 2003, she has been an important factor in the success of the community.
I’ve been privileged enough to work in the senior living industry for more than 30 years. I’ve worked at communities in Texas and Louisiana, and I have experienced firsthand the difference of a having a functional PR plan and not having a plan at all. While some people have a hard time seeing the value of PR, I’ve come to learn that the value isn’t always in the numbers but more so in the feelings a story elicits or the conversations a story starts.
For The Buckingham, I believe that PR has helped people outside of the community understand what we are really about. We are more than just a pretty building. There are a multitude of nice-looking senior living communities throughout Houston, but what sets us apart is what takes place on the inside.
By telling our stories, the community gets to see the kinds of fun activities our residents participate in on a daily basis. They also get a glimpse of the amazing stories our residents have to tell and the wonderful lives they lead as residents of The Buckingham. Additionally, they get to see the outstanding staff and volunteers who make up our team. What it comes down to is this: PR shows the heart of our community.
The residents of The Buckingham are very proud of their community and PR is an outlet for them to share their feelings and their stories. I’ve even seen an increase in participation levels among residents who have read a story about one of their neighbors and want to get involved.
It’s hard to place a numeric value on these kinds of scenarios, whether it’s monetarily, the number of readers or any number of quantifiable values. What I do know is that having family members refer to stories they’ve read in the newspaper or seen on TV – and telling me that these stories reassured them that The Buckingham is the best place for their loved one – is worth a million bucks. That’s what I view as PR’s real value.