Connect with us

Opinion Editorials

What two journalists’ mistakes can teach Realtors about ethics

Published

on

What journalists and Realtors have in common

Two things happened recently with wildly different writers for local paper, The Cleveland Plain Dealer.  Connie Schultz, wife of Senator Sherrod Brown, used to be an opinion columnist. She mainly focused on social issues and human interest pieces while working at the PD, and up until one of her rare columns, did not typically veer into what could be construed as a conflict of interest in regards to her political pieces. 

Mrs. Schultz went to a Tea Party rally in September of 2011, and wrote about the experience. At that rally, a potential competitor for Sen. Brown’s seat spoke. In the first of two columns, Mrs. Schultz did not disclose this. It ultimately got her bounced to the Metro Section of the paper. The two have since amicably parted ways. 

This month, Tony Grossi, (now former) Browns beat reporter sent a Tweet, he says mistakenly. It was supposed to be a direct message, in reference to Browns owner, Randy Lerner. Lerner had made a rare radio appearance, and although Grossi admittedly didn’t listen to the interview, he tweeted, “He is a pathetic figure, the most irrelevant billionaire in the world.” Grossi has been reassigned to a yet to be determined new post as of this week. Yes, everyone has apologized to Mr. Lerner.

Writers and reporters who usually have specific assignments with newspapers and other media venues, or potential conflicts of interest which need to be addressed, in some ways are like Realtors. They (and we as agents) are almost always operating, regardless of the context, under the presumption that our professional hats are continually being worn. For Realtors, there is an excellent reason for this expectation.

Realtor Code of Ethics

In the pre-Amble to the Code of Ethics which we promise to follow, we agree that “The term REALTOR® has come to connote competency, fairness, and high integrity resulting from adherence to a lofty ideal of moral conduct in business relations. No inducement of profit and no instruction from clients ever can justify departure from this ideal. In the interpretation of this obligation, REALTORS® can take no safer guide than that which has been handed down through the centuries, embodied in the Golden Rule, “Whatsoever ye would that others should do to you, do ye even so to them.”  Accepting this standard as their own, REALTORS® pledge to observe its spirit in all of their activities whether conducted personally, through associates or others, or via technological means, and to conduct their business in accordance with the tenets set forth below.

Additionally, Article 15 of the Code of Ethics reads, “Realtors will not knowingly or recklessly make false or misleading statements about other real estate professionals, their businesses, or their business practices.  In addition to this, Standard of Practice 15-2 was amended as follows; The obligation to refrain from making false or misleading statements about other real estate professionals, their businesses and their business practices includes the duty to not knowingly or recklessly publish, repeat, retransmit, or republish false or misleading statements made by others. This duty applies whether false or misleading statements are repeated in person, in writing, by technological means (e.g., the Internet), or by any other means.  Along with Standard of Practice 15-3; The obligation to refrain from making false or misleading statements about other real estate professionals, their businesses, and their business practices includes the duty to publish a clarification about or to remove statements made by others on electronic media the REALTOR® controls once the REALTOR® knows the statement is false or misleading.

What the Code does not say

Absolutely none of this is to say we can’t advise our clients, have fact-based opinions about things, including other agents or companies, nor is meant to be a deterrent from using social media, email, or traditional forms of communication. It is a guide to make us stop and think before we, as Realtors (and even as members of the human race) behave, act, and react, in regards to business practices, online networking, and everyday dealings. The writers from the Cleveland Plain Dealer are stellar examples of what can happen when we unintentionally step outside our professional bubble. If we are to make claims or blanket statements about other professionals, or as a somewhat second party to the effect by replying and becoming engaged via Twitter, LinkedIn, G+, FaceBook, or even via more traditional form of communication, we had better be able to back those things up with proof.

I’ll even take the social media aspect one step further, and say that as Realtors, we may (and can) have a perceived reflection to others of who our friends are and what they post. I have un-friended people online who I’ve known them personally for years because of things they’ve said that I felt were completely inappropriate. I have also removed others’ comments on my social networks, or simply not allowed them to follow me on Twitter, Facebook, or other networks. While I am a very big supporter of the First Amendment, and not limiting free speech or ideas, I do feel that as Realtors, we have a duty to be respectful in how we interact with other people, and this includes possibly not being “friends” online with those whose’ views are extreme and discriminatory in nature.

If we can learn anything from the missteps of the journalists in my town, it is that we are all being watched, and while journalists have their own ethics rules, we too are bound by a Code of Ethics that we all must follow, and the Code is truly common sense to keep us all above board, even when we tweet irrationally in what was meant to be a direct message. Whether or not we remove an inflammatory comment online we made, (about an agent or brokerage or franchise we compete with, or about a bad neighborhood) we must think about our Code of Ethics before we tweet/Facebook/blog and remember that we are allowed our licenses by following the Code, online and offline.

Katie Cosner, occasionally known as Kathleen, or KT, is a Realtor® with Cutler Real Estate and is active in her local Board of Realtors® on the Equal Opportunity & Professional Development Committee. She has been floating around online for a number of years, and is on facebook as well as twitter. While Katie has a few hardcore beliefs, three in the Real Estate World to live and die by are; education, ethics, and the law - insert random quote from “A Few Good Men” here. Katie is also an avid Cleveland Indians fan, which really explains quite a bit of her… quirks.

Continue Reading
Advertisement
15 Comments

15 Comments

  1. real estate guy

    January 31, 2012 at 2:32 pm

    We are a media company and do to the down right poor content,
    marketing of about one dozen realtors/brokers in a selected market area over the entire LAST DECADE WE HAVE STARTED CALLING THESE REAL ESTATE BROKERS OUT!! in the public domain…directly stating why these brokers are losers and do not deserve their commissions. facts, figures and content…As the real estate guy has told ag over the last 2.5 yrs real estate brokers are losers and failures…now we are publishing the facts.
    and we are talking billion dollar franchises taking direct hits from an independent…do your job or get out of the real estate business..

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Opinion Editorials

Job listings are popping up left and right, so what exactly *is* UX writing?

(EDITORIAL) While UX writing is not technically new, it is seemingly becoming more and more prevalent. The job titles are everywhere, so what is it?

Published

on

UX writing

The work of a UX writer is something you come across every day. Whether you’re hailing an Uber or browsing Spotify for that one Drake song, your overall user experience is affected by the words you read at each touchpoint.

A UX writer facilitates a smooth interaction between user and product at each of these touchpoints through carefully chosen words.

Some of the most common touchpoints these writers work on are interface copy, emails, and notifications. It doesn’t sound like the most thrilling stuff, but imagine using your favorite apps without all the thoughtful confirmation messages we take for granted. Take Eat24’s food delivery app, instead of a boring loading visual, users get a witty message like “smoking salmon” or “slurping noodles.”

Eat24’s app has UX writing that works because it’s engaging.

Xfinity’s mobile app provides a pleasant user experience by being intuitive. Shows that are available on your phone are clearly labeled under “Available Out of Home.” I’m bummed that Law & Order: SVU isn’t available, but thanks to thoughtful UX writing at least I knew that sad fact ahead of time.

Regardless of where you find these writer’s work, there are three traits an effective UX writer must-have. Excellent communication skills are a must. The ability to empathize with the user is on almost every job post. But from my own experience working with UX teams, I’d argue for the ability to advocate as the most important skill.

UX writers may have a very specialized mission, but they typically work within a greater user experience design team. In larger companies, some UX writers even work with a smaller team of fellow writers. Decisions aren’t made in isolation. You can be the wittiest writer, with a design decision based on obsessive user research, but if you can’t advocate for those decisions then what’s the point?

I mentioned several soft skills, but that doesn’t mean aspiring UX writers can’t benefit from developing a few specific tech skills. While the field doesn’t require a background in web development, UX writers often collaborate with engineering teams. Learning some basic web development principles such as responsive design can help writers create a better user experience across all devices. In a world of rapid prototyping, I’d also suggest learning a few prototyping apps. Several are free to try and super intuitive.

Now that the UX in front of the writer no longer intimidates you, go check out ADJ, The American Genius’ Facebook Group for Austin digital job seekers and employers. User-centric design isn’t going anywhere and with everyone getting into the automation game, you can expect even more opportunities in UX writing.

Continue Reading

Opinion Editorials

Have an in-person job interview? 7 tips to crush the competition

EDITORIAL) While we all know the usual interview schtick, take some time to really study for your next face-to-face job interview.

Published

on

Job interview between two women.

So, you’re all scheduled for an in-person interview for a job you’d kill for. It’s exciting that you’ve made it to this step, but the question is, are you ready? Especially with remote interviews being the new norm, your nerves may feel shaken up a bit to interview in person – but you’ve got this! And many of these tips can be applied no matter the interview setting.

We all know the basics of a job interview: dress nice, get there early, come prepared, firm handshake, yada, yada, yada… However, it’s good to really sit and think about all of the requirements of a successful interview.

There are seven steps for crushing a face-to-face interview. Do your homework upside down and inside out in order to walk into that room.

Which brings us to the first step: know everything you need to know backwards and forwards.

This can be done in two steps: getting to know the company and getting to know yourself. By doing website, social media, and LinkedIn research, you can get a feel of the company culture as well as the position you’re interviewing for.

By getting to know yourself, have a friend ask you some interview questions so you can practice. Also, take a look at your resume through the eyes of someone who doesn’t know you. Make sure everything is clear and can compete with other candidates.

The next step is to anticipate solving future problems. Have some insight on the department that you are interviewing for and come prepared with ideas of how to better this department. (i.e. if it’s marketing, give examples of campaigns you’ve done in the past that have proven to have been successful.)

Step number three requires you to go back to the research board and get some information on the employer. Find out who you’re meeting with (head of HR, head of the department, etc.) and make your self-presentation appropriate for the given person.

Next, work on making the interview conversation a meaningful one. This can be done by asking questions as people like to see you take an interest in them. Also, be sure to never answer the questions as if it’s your regular spiel. Treat each job interview as if this is the first time you’re presenting your employability information.

With this, your next step is to have stories prepared for the job interview. Anecdotes and examples of previous jobs or volunteer/organization experiences can help bring life to an otherwise run-of-the-mill resume.

After this, you’ll want to make sure that you’re showing enthusiasm for the position you’re interviewing for. Don’t jump on the couch in the lobby like you’re Tom Cruise on Oprah, but definitely portray that you’re excited and up for the challenge.

Lastly, make a good impression by being impressive. Be professional and in control of your body language. Put yourself in the mindset of whatever position you’re interviewing for and show them that you have what it takes.

Continue Reading

Opinion Editorials

The benefits of remote work are just too good to overlook

(EDITORIAL) Employees scream it from the rooftops and businesses don’t want to admit it: Remote work is just too beneficial to pass up- and here’s why.

Published

on

Work from home written with scrabble letters.

Remote work has been rising in popularity in the past several years. Especially following the COVID-19 global pandemic, more companies saw significant benefits for both their business and their staff that went beyond the realm of finances by allowing remote labor.

Less happily, many people lost their job during the pandemic, but they ended up having more time to put toward their passions or were compelled to get creative with their remote business ideas to ensure a consistent stream of income.

If you remain on the fence about allowing your employees to work remotely, or are considering a career shift yourself, take a look at the top four benefits of working remotely, which may sway your decision.

Better Overall Quality of Life

Allowing your employees to work remotely doesn’t necessarily mean they work from home full time. There are benefits to having your employees work in an office part of the time – say, two or three days – and working from home, in more familiar surroundings, the rest of the week.

In this way, your workers enjoy some freedom and independence while retaining the ability to interact face-to-face with their peers. That provides human interaction, which can play a substantial role in terms of improved mental health for your staff.

Happy employees means healthier employees, which can save your outfit money in the form of healthcare costs and lost productivity. But we will get further into the cost-saving benefits a little further on.

If you’re a remote worker, you should see yourself becoming significantly more productive. But why would this be the case if you don’t have a manager over your shoulder watching your every move?

It’s true that when employees have a greater sense of independence, they also experience a significant sense of trust on the part of their employers and managers. This is one of the huge benefits of working remotely because it has a trickle-down effect on the quality and overall production of people’s work.

Can Work Anywhere with Internet

Whether you are a small business owner or have crafted your work to tailor toward a life of remote labor, this is an opportunity for someone who has dreamed of being a digital nomad. You have the ability to work anywhere in the world as long as you have access to the Internet. If you love to travel, this is a chance to spend time in various places around the globe while continuing to meet your deadlines.

Multi-member Zoom call on a Apple Mac laptop with a blue mug of black coffee next to it.

Set Your Own Hours

In some cases with remote businesses, you have the freedom to set your own hours. Content writers, for instance, tend to enjoy more flexibility with regard to when they work because a lot of what they produce is project-based rather than tied to a nine-to-five schedule.

When you’re a business owner, this can be incredibly useful when you outsource tasks to save money. You can find a higher quality of performance by searching for contractors anywhere in the world and it doesn’t limit you to workers who live near to your office.

Saves Everyone Time and Money

 In the end, remote work typically saves money for every person and entity involved. Businesses save costs in terms of not having to pay for a physical space, utilities, Internet, and other expenses. This allows you, as the owner, to spend more of your income on providing quality software and benefits for your employees so your operation runs more smoothly and efficiently.

According to FlexJobs, employees or remote business owners may save around $4,000 on average every year for expenses such as car maintenance, transportation, professional clothing in the office, or even money spent dining out for lunch with coworkers. Eventually, the costs add up, which means extra money in your pocket to take that much-needed vacation or save up for a down payment on your first home.

These benefits of working remotely only skim the surface. There are also sustainability factors such as removing cars from the roads and streets, because people don’t have to travel to and from an office; or employees missing fewer workdays since they have the ability and freedom to clock in from home.

Weigh the pros and cons as to whether remote work is right for you as a business owner or online professional. You might be surprised to find that working from home for more than the duration of the pandemic is worthwhile and could have long-lasting benefits.

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Our Great Partners

The
American Genius
news neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to our mailing list for news sent straight to your email inbox.

Emerging Stories

Get The American Genius
neatly in your inbox

Subscribe to get business and tech updates, breaking stories, and more!