When Bloggers Attack...
"If one does not understand a person, one tends to regard him as a fool." - Carl Jung
I'm bothered by something. Even though I write for Iowabiz, I generally do not read it as carefully as I probably should... at least until this week. Todd Razor wrote a great piece on a new marketing approach by Hubbell Realty here in town. To help sell a new community of brownstones, they created a fictional character named Hailey Brownstone. She has a Facebook page and a Twitter account. She has videos on Youtube and a webpage. There are disclaimers stating she is not real, although they may not be as obvious as some would like.
Drew McLellan and Andy Drish jumped on them for not being authentic and for trying to deceive customers. Before weighing in, I talked to the Marketing Director at Hubbell Realty, who informed me this was their most effective ad campaign ever. They've already sold two brownstones, one of their other communities wants Hubbell to create a Hailey character for them, they are on target for one of their best Decembers ever, and another realty company in town is already copying them with the creation of their own character.
After going back and forth with me and others on Iowabiz, Drew took the argument to his own site. What happened next can best be described as the blogospheric equivalent of the carnivore attack on Wild Kingdom. Most commenters viciously attacked Hubbell, simply based on the fact they didn't like the videos. They weren't provided with the facts about how effective the approach has been. Drew has yet to produce one Des Moines real estate customer who has actually felt deceived. I've been surprised at who commented. People like Connie Reece and Brad Shorr are those I not only respect, but genuinely like (and their comments were tame compared to most). Except for Drew, most involved have no vested interest in Des Moines and have never heard of Hubbell Realty until now. Yet it seems some have just jumped on the bandwagon because an opinion can be given without accountability. Nothing illegal has been done in this marketing approach; people just want to criticize because they wouldn't have done it that way.
My question is, where is the blogospheric integrity? I remember listening to Anita Bruzzese at SOBCon back in May, hearing her emphasize the importance of demonstrating a high level of journalistic integrity in our blogs and comments, checking our facts, and viewing all sides of an issue before commenting. I'm not seeing this here. In an era where the real estate market is tanking on all sides and our economy is generally shaky, I'm not inclined to attack a company for doing something successfully. To do otherwise demonstrates the same lack of understanding demonstrated in the Jung quote above. In my comments, I asked the question on Iowabiz whether social media could afford to reach the land of sacred cows. In a world of Madoff, Blagojevich, and Big Three Bailouts, there are plenty of things that deserve our angst-ridden criticism. A company successfully employing innovation isn't one of them.
I've been enjoying the essays of Peggy Noonan recently. She's been talking a lot about the need for grace in our society. At this season of Christmas, at this time when we need desperately to see the positive among a field of negativity, at the cusp of a new era of leadership and hope, I would think some of us should pause before we comment and think about what grace really means... to us personally and as a community.
What do you think? Too much righteous indignation on my part? Maybe. I have no vested interest in Hubbell other than sharing a community with them. I've had a couple of students from there, but I would probably feel the same way if Iowa Realty or JDR Group were being attacked. I guess I'd like to know what YOU think. Are they just registering an opinion, or did this one go too far? Do we have a responsibility to our stakeholders to look at all sides of an issue before we blog or comment? As always, I admit I may be wrong. This one just isn't sitting well in my gut. I guess I'm just feeling a little disappointed in some of my blogging compadres right now. I'll get over it. To do otherwise would be a lack of the same grace I've just been talking about.