A Raleigh real estate marketing firm has doubled its reach in the industry by acquiring and rebranding a South Carolina competitor.
Earlier this year, Raleigh-based Publicus Community acquired high-end hospitality and real estate marketing firm Real Living Productions. The deal closed in the spring, but the company held off on a formal announcement as it built up branding for Real Living Productions. Financial details of the acquisition were not disclosed.

Publicus provides advertising and marketing services to resorts, hotels, real estate developers and residential real estate companies.

“It’s been a very exciting opportunity all around,” said Peter Dayot, founder and managing director of Publicus Community. “Over the past couple months we’ve rebranded the whole thing: logos, website, videos. On top of that we’ve managed their existing client projects as well as working with the incredible staff.”

Both companies will continue to operate under their existing names and offices – Publicus is headquartered on E. Hargett Street in downtown Raleigh while Real Living Productions has offices in Greenville, South Carolina. Altogether, the firms employ around 45 staff members, Dayot said, with a roughly equal split between the companies. Publicus had around 22 employees before the acquisition.

Dayot, who earned his undergraduate and master’s degrees at East Carolina, launched Publicus in Raleigh in 2011. Previously, he’d spent years working in real estate advertising and marketing before his employer, IMI Worldwide Properties, saw business dry up amid the Great Recession. The company was downsizing, and

Dayot decided it was time to strike out on his own.
He picked Raleigh and made sure to maintain his relationship with IMI.

“When I started on my own they were an ardent supporter of the things we did and we collaborated with their team,” he said. “As years went on we saw success.”

IMI also had a real estate marketing and advertising group, Real Living Productions, which was a competitor of Publicus. Ultimately however, the company began moving away from that side of the business and began looking for buyers.

“IMI shifted their priorities, they wanted to focus more on the sales aspect and not necessarily the day-to-day marketing and advertising,” Dayot said. “I was approached by their team in January last year to consider an opportunity to acquire Real Living Productions.” Dayot said the initial slowdown after the start of the pandemic also gave his team a chance to focus heavily on the newly acquired firm. “It’s been a challenge given the fact that Covid changes things more than we expected it would be,” he said. “But it gave us the opportunity to align everything properly.”

Eventually, the companies began to see business return, particularly amid a boost in business from developers and residential real estate clients.

“There’s been a dramatic shift in the real estate industry,” Dayot said. “Many people are looking for live-work-play lifestyles, homes that may be larger or more private or in the suburbs. Many of the things we represent are in fact those second home communities, those private gated communities, resorts where you can get away and stay there an extended period of time.”

Meanwhile, even as the hospitality industry continues to struggle under the impacts of Covid-19, Dayot said they continue working with clients who have been able to keep business humming or who are preparing for when business picks up post-pandemic.

“It depends on what the draw of the area is. A ski resort is pretty busy,” Dayot said. “Much of what we’re focusing on is in a wind-down period, simply because it’s a holiday season.