If you haven’t watched an episode of HGTV’s new hit reality show Selling New York, you haven’t seen the show’s multi-million dollar townhouses, apartments with sweeping skyline views, and the quirky characters making it all possible.
Kristina Helb ’04, with a communications background at companies that include Bobbi Brown, New Balance and Verizon, is one of the people making it all come together.
“The Manhattan real estate market is unlike anywhere else in the country,” says Helb, director of communications for CORE, one of three firms featured on the show.
Most of CORE’s listings are luxurious properties in Chelsea and West Village (for example, this prewar apartment boasts an indoor pool), and although CORE was only founded in 2005, the firm has quickly become one of the hottest real estate brokerages in the city through its dedicated agents and innovative marketing strategies.
“As a young firm, we bring a unique perspective to the market... we’re nimble, we’re small, we can do things very quickly,” Helb says. “Our CEO wanted to create a firm with the characteristics he always wanted when he was an agent, so we operate differently than most.”
Helb is in charge of all of CORE’s public relations endeavors. These can range from the routine (writing press releases) to the extraordinary (announcing major renovations on a $13.65 million Chelsea townhouse by hosting a party with a live graffiti artist exhibition). Most exciting, however, is her work with Selling New York.
The show, currently in its third season, is watched by 2 million viewers per episode, has been signed for three more seasons, and will soon go international to more than 60 countries. In addition to regular appearances on the show, Helb works with the production team, helping to storyboard every episode. She gathers information about which real estate deals CORE is managing, develops interesting story lines, and makes sure everything is scheduled correctly. “For any listing, I find out if the owner is an interesting character and if they would be willing to go on camera,” says Helb.
Although Helb facilitates the show’s structure, she says Selling New York “is not manufactured. ... It can be stressful because you don’t know what will happen. The camera crew captures everything, and these real estate deals are really happening. It’s crazy but I love it.”
At Connecticut College, Helb majored in English and minored in art. While she was not initially sure what she wanted to do after college, after a week working in Bobbi Brown’s PR department, she “realized it was the perfect synergy of everything I loved - writing, creativity, communication, and personal relationships.” During her time at Bobbi Brown and other companies (including New Balance, Verizon, and USA Networks), she arranged product sponsorships with celebrities at events like New York Fashion Week, the Emmys, and Sundance.
Selling New York airs Thursdays at 9 p.m on HGTV.
-- Tom Owen