Where my husband, Steve, is concerned, the family house cat is not feeling the love. The resident dog ranks only slightly lower on her people-I-want-to-go-away scale. Whenever one or the other enters the room, she has this habit of turning to face the opposite wall. We assume that the thought process goes something like this – If I can’t see you, you don’t exist; if I don’t acknowledge you, you are dead to me (or, at least, you will eventually go away).
Fluffy, the short-haired domestic in denial, has a lot in common with our local newspaper, the San Diego Union Tribune.
In yet another example of their misguided notion that they can cling to what is fast becoming a flawed news and information delivery concept, the Union has again demonstrated their belief that ignoring that which they fear will make it go away.
The weekend homes section was as recently as a year ago still considered the place for agents and brokerages to advertise. As advertising rates went up and ad response plummeted (to zero), the smart money moved their resources to online venues. We made our listings available to any and every online portal we could find. For us, this was a no-brainer business decision. A $300 ad in the Union would generate virtually no calls, while a free Craigslist ad would result in a half-dozen buyer inquiries.
Good Luck With That
The larger brokerages still contribute to the ad-revenue coffers, but this, we know, is for the purpose of advertising the brand and not the homes. And, as a concession to those clients and to keep the dollars coming, the inside cover of the homes section is routinely devoted to “press releases” for the companies and their agents. Periodically, Steve and I submit a press release because a) it can’t hurt, and b) it’s free. Our most recent submission promoted our involvement as local community fair sponsors, with the final paragraph devoted to a little shameless self-promotion of our online presence:
Kris and Steve, both Broker Associates, are multiple award-winning agents for Prudential CA Realty in Scripps Ranch and can be found on the Internet at www.SanDiegoCastles.com. Their blog, www.SanDiegoHomeBlog.com, has been recognized nationally and was recently featured by Inman News as an example of innovation in the exchange of localized real estate information. Kris also serves as a contributor on www.BloodhoundBlog.com, which has become widely regarded as an authority on national industry issues.
Admittedly, this was a bit bold for the medium, and we fully expected the outcome; the final paragraph was nuked in its entirety at publication. Surprisingly, however, our company approved it, the same company who only seconds ago did everything they could to subvert any agent attempts at online autonomy and personal branding. Our company, at some point, wisely acknowledged that they could not stop progress and, perhaps (get this!), recognized that our success would contribute to their own.
Yet the Union muckity-mucks are undoubtedly sitting around the management table scratching their old world heads, wondering why their readership is down, their ad revenues are down, and their long-term viability is threatened. They have an online arm, SignOnSanDiego, this being their too-little-too-late attempt to assimilate into the modern world of information sharing, but they can’t compete. Their site is about as easy to navigate as the Holland Tunnel at rush hour, and the pop-ups are so numerous as to give one vertigo. This, and I think I had a birthday the last time I waited for the search feature to load.
No Longer “The Deciders”
The mainstream media has been in the enviable position for as long as we can remember of not only reporting the “news” but deciding for us what the news in fact is. That has changed. By the time something has been reported in print, it is yesterday’s newspaper to the vast majority of us. We get our information on television and online, and we discuss the information and challenge the meaning on blogs.
When I emailed The Deciders several months ago suggesting they cover the roll-out of Zillow’s new listing features, they told me that there was no story here (resulting in this post). In February, when the Redfin CEO met with both me and The Deciders on the same day to promote their entry into the San Diego Real Estate market, I aired a podcast, and they turned their backs to face the wall.
Being shunned by the arrogant mainstream media did not make Zillow go away, nor has Redfin pulled up stakes. Neither is my blog going anywhere.
Little Ol’ Me
The Union is not afraid of little ol’ me. They are afraid of the collective me’s and of what we represent: The potential demise of their industry, at least as we now know it. So, to the Union and all of those Unions out there, I offer my free advice. Try something crazy; acknowledge the movement and use it to your advantage. Do you want to sell some papers? Befriend rather than ostracize those that challenge you and your business model. Adapt. Do you think that some of us with business addresses ending in .com might be willing, even delighted to partner with you? Might we have insight, ideas, and even “news” that could help keep you contemporary? Is is possible that we would be delighted to willingly share our perspectives and our platform for a little sound-bite, name-dropping in your house in return?
My cat will continue to ignore the dog and “that guy”, thinking that by wishing them gone, she will make it so. To the Union, you may chose to look the other way. You may choose to continue to ignore progress and change in the off chance that we will go away. But my blog will still be here tomorrow. Will you?