The group of real estate professionals from all corners of the country filed in under a banner reading "Public Relations For Agents, Brokers, REALTORS.
The lone presenter on center stage was an unassuming low key older lady who watched as row after row of men and woman filled seats. The noise of the influx of real estate individuals from every aspect of the industry chit chatted, buzzed from being quite a social, gregarious bunch. But eventually the crowd settled in. The time had arrived for why the group was here. To learn about public relations in the real estate field.
One comedian wearing the "R" quipped in a whisper in the front row "who's Aunt Bea?" referring to the single presenter who got up from her seat and began.
She announced that there was a time in this country, around the world that to be one individual and be heard by millions, it meant harnessing local radio stations one by one. Or gaining the ear, the favor of a local newspaper, magazine and building a grass fire of propaganda, news, marketing that you used to get your message out. And other than word of mouth through the grape vine, that was pretty much it to be heard other than erecting boatloads of billboards.
The speaker paused, smiled and then said that has all changed with the advent of the Internet. One person CAN reach millions. Pick a time of day or night and at any moment the potential is there to broadcast around the blue and green marble.
Language is no longer a barrier either.
And websites can be designed to simply find your nation's flag in the upper corner. Then click and voila. Transposed to the native tongue spoken in their corner of the world. Video embeds audio and overlays changed, edited automatically to match the new language too. Media options abound, social media platforms multiply like rabbits.
Skills to know how to wield the new marketing outlets are needed to tap in to fully realize the potential power of each. Or you get left behind by those who do. And the good news she reminded everyone in the stadium is you can all be an army of one. Magnifying the reach, frequency of the message with know how not sheer man power. In fact you can move quicker as a David rather than being in a slow phalanx of Goliaths.
The crowd was silent, "Aunt Bea" had gotten their attention.
No one was nodding off, doodling on their real estate handouts they received on the way in at the multiple stadium entrances.
No cell phones going off, no side conversations, no thousand yard stares or trouble focusing. But a few wondered where did public relations come in to the picture?
"Aunt Bea" began again. Years ago it was everyone spoke with their indoor voice. But now has the power of the one you used at recess as a kid, your outdoor voice. Except now you can be heard many school yards, time zones and zip codes away. So what you say, how you say it is critical to be given credibility. To have any merit to the person on the other end of the tin can and string.
If you talk, write about the real estate market are you talking about the world, country, state as a whole or just the area you cover?
Be careful not to speak for the nation if you are in one of the four primary states affected by FSSR (foreclosure, short sale, repossession). For fear of giving the impression it is this way everywhere. All those places you don't live, don't know the local market from listing, selling, living there.
And when you are upset, blogging about it as a vent, a tool to get revenge in some twisted way, remember you alienate folks one by one, or group by group as you tap out the electrons. Example, you are frustrated with a local teen at the Piggly Wiggly who is not a math whiz and slow in making the correct change.
She's holding you up.
And you further insinuate snidely what are they teaching kids, what is wrong with your state's, town's educational system. An outside reader thinks "Martha, I don't think the schools are very worthwhile in that state the blogger is writing about."
All based on one comment, one situation and reaction to it. Online with the million watt transmitter humming, running. The microphone wide open without tape delay.
Or teachers, anyone working in the educational field in that state is upset with the broad brush assumption, opinion you present in the rant, the whine.
Some in the audience squirmed, looked down, played with an earring or adjusted their tie nervously. Aunt Bea reminded the group you are starting to see how being at the controls of the media can be a careless, reckless and damaging thing. Years ago, you barked your opinion and had a melt down that was four walls locally contained to those just in the room. But now are within earshot of millions.
Continuing to walk to and fro, stopping for a water drink occasionally, Aunt Bea suddenly froze in her steps. Raised her right arm. Pointed out over the group from left to right asking "Have any of you blogged, had an online conversation where you went on and on about what bad, lousy, sloppy, lazy (or you pick the negative fighting mud slinging word) activity or habit agents, brokers, REALTORS have but not you ?
She called those kind of blogs "Little Jack Horners" because you do no wrong, but diss the others wearing the "R" to distance, separate you from the rest of that lowly herd. Because "oh what a good boy or girl are you".
Launching from the tirade commentary of others in the real estate trenches to a sickenly sweet, poured on thick palava on your honesty, integrity, the plaques on the office wall.
She shook her head and chuckled, and said you wonder why the public, the media has such a low opinion of folks in your industry? Look down and check both your feet for self inflicted gun shot wounds. You do it to yourselves. Thinking that is how you get ahead, climbing over others in the same profession.
The real estate buyer and seller don't give a hoot about you, but care more about what your service is like. What will you do to save them time and money? Stop bickering and start delivering, servicing your customer and compete with yourself to do better. Put the childish attacks energy in to beefing up where you are weak, and adding the coal to capitalize on your strengths. (Stay tuned for more from Aunt Bea).