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In today’s world of real estate blogging, we’ve become more than just agents with a penchant for writing. We’ve become mini-local news stations. Our focus may be housing markets and the latest listings, but think about how many times you’ve blogged about local politics, grand openings, events, and major news events that affect your city. Blogging your local news not only gives you something to write about, but it gives you credibility within the community and ups your trust-factor amongst local residents. They turn to your blog when they need to know what’s going on.
Blogging about the news can benefit you immensely, but if you’re not careful, it could damage your reputation just as quickly. Post the latest rumors or half-truths and less people will find value in the news you bring them. Less value equals less readers.
So how do you become a trusted source for news and info on your local community?
Building your sources.
We all have a lot going on in our day to day lives as real estate agents, so how do we find time to research the news and get it up on our blogs? You’ll have to figure out where to eek out the time to write the posts, I can’t help you there, but I can help you with leveraging your community contacts to bring more news to your blog.
The first place I’d look? Twitter. Everyday my Twitter stream is full of tidbits from local San Antonio residents. It’s a goldmine of local information. Of course, you need to be following locals in order for this to work. If you’re not following locals, you might want to rethink the time you spend on Twitter. As with any internet-related (or word of mouth) source, you’ll need to think about the source the news is coming from. Are they reporting it truthfully? Do they have their facts right? Can you trust them? Just like a journalist, you’ll want to be sure you’re not reporting news that isn’t true. It’s easy for me to type “There is a major accident on Loop 410 and several cars on are fire.,” – that doesn’t make it true or blog worthy. Check your facts.
My favorite resource on Twitter? My local news station (shout out to KSAT 12). Not only do they maintain their own official Twitter accounts, but many in the news room are Twitter regulars. Not only can I pull the news from the official stream, but I can also shoot a reporter a quick question about a developing story and get the info I need to write a great post. Once you make friends with them, you’d be surprised at how helpful they will be. My local reporters are constantly allowing me to use quotes, photos, and videos for my blog posts. All with their permission (we don’t want to get into any copyright violations) of course.
When I have a slower day and need some good blogging material, I always scan the local news websites first. Look for news about construction that will impact housing markets, developments in local neighborhoods (this post received over 1,000 unique visitors it’s first day and remains a very popular post), or local interest stories. Both long time residents and people thinking about moving to your area will appreciate the news and come back for more. Long-term readership breeds familiarity and trust – two things you’re seeking as an agent.
Here in Texas, we’re privileged to have the Real Estate Center at Texas A&M, which is always a great source for real estate-related news across Texas (separated by city, so you can quickly sift through to what matters to your locality), but there are other great sources; your local Chamber of Commerce, city council meetings, city planners, and other localized organizations. If you don’t have time to go to meetings, befriend people who do – use your social media contacts to find these people. Ask questions, get to know them. A simple “anything new?” once in awhile will keep you connected and informed.
Danger Will Robinson.
Of course, there is a dark side to bringing news to your blog. There are inherent risks and possible problems galore. Avoid them at all costs.
Don’t plagiarize. Throw away your “cut and paste.” Don’t do it. It’s bad, foolish, and can land you in trouble. Don’t do it. Did I mention that you shouldn’t do it? Let me repeat: don’t do it.
If your source turns out to be wrong – correct your post. Don’t be afraid to say you were wrong and pull a post.
Learn to double check your sources. Just because you read it on the internet, it’s not necessarily true. When it comes to the internet one mention of something we all want to believe can spread like wildfire, despite the fact that they are simply not true.
And one last thing…don’t plagiarize.
photo courtesy of wili_hybrid
March 10, 2010 at 3:55 pm
I have to admit, I don’t see myself as a reporter of real estate news. I may “re-purpose” news stories (e.g., tax credit, FHA guideline changes, new GFE rules) but I don’t go out of my way to find something new and exciting and unreported by other outlets. But that’s just me. I have real estate to sell and the biggest and hottest news I like to find is where that next Seller with Equity is hiding so I can talk to him/her.
March 10, 2010 at 4:00 pm
Yeah, from Ken’s perspective, you already compete with your own market agents, but to have to compete with FB, CNN, or even Twitter for eyeballs you really want those that read you to be there for the local value added in relation to real estate. Focused niche is always best. Now if news is impacting your local market, then heck yeah, that’s powerful stuff.
March 12, 2010 at 11:19 am
Ken – I see your point and agree for the most part. I don’t go out and search for local news events in the sense that a reporter might, but because I have a lot of journalist friends, I often get news from them before it’s being talked about on a wider scale. I had posts about the slope failure at Centex Homes’ Hills of Rivermist before most people. It was a huge story in our market and turned into a big national story.
Benn – I don’t see as trying to compete with FB, CNN, or Twitter, but bringing the news that’s important to my clients and readers. I don’t report about cats in trees and airplanes crashing, but I will report about the census bureau hiring in San Antonio, the slope failure, Medallion homes leaving San Antonio, city beautification projects, etc. Those are the sorts of things that affect real estate and are often covered in passing in many news outlets.
I don’t scoop anyone, I just get the best information from my sources to bring it to my readers. We all know the “I read on the internet so it must be true” problems. I try to circumvent that by having people I can turn to for confirmation.