This past week I landed on a Facebook thread responding to an article on womansday.com called 10 Things Your Real Estate Agent Won’t Tell You. Written by free-lance writer Ms. Sarah Stebbins, this article is part of a series that includes “Ten Things You Didn’t Know About Bedbugs” and “Ten Things You Can Clean in the Dishwasher”. These topics are what one would expect to be covered by Woman’s Day. Ms. Stebbin’s poorly researched and badly written brush-off of complex legal and ethical issues convinces me that Woman’s Day should stick to advising their readers on pest problems and house cleaning.
For example, I sincerely doubt that Moe Veissi, President of the National Association of REALTORS®, suggested that a home buyer ask a realtor (sic) about schools, crime statistics and sex offenders: by law we are not allowed to provide many types of information, especially anything covered by the federal Fair Housing laws.
I am disappointed by the over-riding implication that a commission-based compensation model is necessarily associated with unethical business practices. In my experience, no one succeeds in the real estate business unless they are deeply committed to serving their clients. I am a single parent who works seven days a week to help clients navigate complex transactions, often under tremendously difficult emotional circumstances. Accusing a hard-working REALTOR® of unethical and illegal practices just to get a commission is maddening.
On a side note, I wonder if Ms. Stebbins writes her articles to be published without compensation?
Agents who participate on the ActiveRain real estate website had quite a lot to say in my post Woman’s Day Gives Bad Real Estate Advice. “My 85 year old mother stopped reading Woman’s Day sometime around 1996″ wrote J. Philip Faranda, a Broker/Owner in Westechester County New York . This comment perfectly raises the issue of whether Woman’s Dayhas become irrelevant and obsolete in today’s world.
Long gone are the days when a publication could publish an article one month, receive responses and counterpoints by regular mail, and then print a carefully picked few in the next issue. Woman’s Day has Facebook Comments enabled on their articles, presumably to allow readers to interact with one another and with the author. Yet today there is no response to the 23 comments by the author or the editorial staff at Woman’s Day. Facebook is the most popular social media platform in the world and social media, by it’s very definition, requires social interaction.
In December 2011 Time Inc., the largest magazine publisher in the United States, made the surprising announcement that the firm would be run by Laura Lang, the chief executive of the digital advertising agency Digitas. “We’re seeing clients shift dollars into channels that can get a direct engagement, that can get a direct, accountable experience” she said in an interview with Direct, a marketing industry publication. (Source: New York Times, December 04, 2011).
Traditional magazines have struggled to make themselves relevant in the digital world by moving content onto the internet. Their revenue now comes from online advertisers who can change their placement and strategy with a single click. Online publications use the promise of “direct engagement” — eg through Facebook Comments — to justify the purchase of advertising.
But what Woman’s Day fails to realize, at least in this instance, is that a successful on-line editorial strategy is not a simple one-way push of material out into cyberspace. Tacking on Facebook Comments and then ignoring them is worse than not having a comment section at all. Facebook is all about immediate, in-the-moment interaction between an author and the readers. Woman’s Day perhaps shows it’s unwillingness, or perhaps inability, to be relevant to today’s information consumer.
And if Woman’s Day can’t get their own business model right, they should avoid advising consumers on complex and difficult financial transactions like the purchase or sale of a house.