From PR, marketing, advertising and social media to support the building’s development through public affairs and groundbreaking, our real estate team has been on the case for 6 years. Get to know the strategy behind successfully launching One Vanderbilt, a skyline-defining skyscraper during a pandemic.
“New York City became a national epicenter of COVID-19 cases in April 2020. The government closed non-essential businesses, such as bars, restaurants, theaters and shops. Offices mandated employees work from home where able, and living rooms became classrooms. Launching a business seemed like an unfathomable idea.
And yet, the real estate team at PR firm BerlinRosen forged ahead to prepare for the ribbon-cutting and launch of One Vanderbilt, the newest addition to the city skyline. Originally intended for an August 2020 debut, the skyscraper was in jeopardy. Thankfully, the state allowed construction to continue—one of the first industries to return to work.
In the spring, One Vanderbilt already boasted 70 percent tenant capacity, allowing BerlinRosen to focus on new messaging and a pending September launch.
“In a normal situation, you would have been looking at a grand opening celebration with hundreds of people and a really, really big celebration. That clearly couldn’t be the case given the situation,” said Jeremy Soffin, an EVP at BerlinRosen who leads its national real estate practice.
So how to communicate and navigate the opening of a building during a pandemic? And not just any building, but one that helped to impact the surrounding infrastructure and systemic design of one of the largest cities in the world?
20 Years in the Making
Soffin started working on One Vanderbilt more than six years ago. Construction plans began almost 20 years ago: surveying land, structure and ideation. Developer SL Green Realty Corp., Manhattan’s largest office landlord and developer, hired BerlinRosen initially to handle the project’s public affairs.
“Real estate in New York is, of course, very political, and many projects require political and public approvals before they can move forward,” Soffin said.
The firm helped craft a campaign to build support for the project. The goal was to get the attention of a New York City mayoral office in transition, as it was at the end of the Mayor Michael Bloomberg administration. In the years since, BerlinRosen took on more responsibility. The firm added to its PR remit, creating an advertising strategy for leasing.
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