How to Write About Politics Without Getting Blasted

How to Write About Politics Without Getting BlastedAs a Realtor, your job is to interpret the real estate market for clients. Should your interpretation include commenting on politicians’ attempts to influence and regulate homeownership? Or should you just keep your mouth shut and hope your clients’ political yard signs aren’t blocking your for sale sign?

I believe that when you do it right, talking about politics can position you as an informative commentator. Done wrong, it can alienate your client base.

Here’s a simple two-question test that tells you which political issues will help improve your reputation and which will cost you customers:

1. Does the issue influence my clients’ home value or their ability to buy or sell property?

2. Is NAR’s position on the issue one that benefits my clients, too?

If you answer “no” to ether question, it’s not a good issue for your communications with homeowners. An issue is only appropriate to discuss with clients if it’s directly related to real estate. When an issue benefits Realtors but not homeowners, you’re wise to avoid the topic, too.

If you can answer “yes” to both those questions, the political issue is one you should be talking about to your client base. It benefits them to know about it and it benefits your industry as well.

Political Topics Garner Clicks

That was the case with one of the most-read articles among the nearly 3 million newsletters HomeActions sent out last month. House Democrat Wants Big Changes In Credit Reporting explored changes in credit reporting proposed by California’s Rep. Maxine Waters. If it passes, the bill would likely make it easier to get a home loan, creating more potential homebuyers. That’s a win for homebuyers, home sellers and Realtors.

The key to covering politics without offending anyone is to write about the bill rather than partisan politics. You’ll know you’ve done a good job at that when you get comments back from people who agree and from people who disagree with the proposal, but no comments from people criticizing you for supporting or opposing the bill.

You’ll Get Comments

Here are some examples – real comments from viewers who had something to say about Maxine Waters’ attempts to change the way credit reporting works:

There were homeowners who applauded the bill: Current system is unfair to all citizens! What she is proposing is very fair, because items in the Credit Bureaus are one person’s opinion, not the truth!!

There were homeowners who think it’s a bad bill: She basically wants to hide bad credit. Did we not learn from the 2008 meltdown? We should not lend to those who can’t or won’t make the payments!!!

And there were people who think there are more adept politicians than Rep. Waters: Maxine Waters is an idiot… and would put us back in recession to get reelected.

But the most telling comment (and the one you want to see come back to you when you write about political issues) is this one: Thank you for gathering this information for us.

While thousands of homeowners read that feature, not a single comment came back criticizing our Realtor clients for supporting or opposing the Waters bill. Because the coverage did neither. It simply outlined what Rep. Waters wants to do to change credit reporting.

When you write about politics, you’ll almost always get people fired up. The key is getting them fired up about the issue (or the politician) rather than fired up about your personal political views. Stick to the facts and let your clients form their own opinions and you’ll always be seen as an expert in all things home-ownership.

Be The Expert Who Saves Homeowners Money

Be The Expert Who Saves Homeowners MoneySince everyone likes to save money, sharing HomeActions articles about reducing homeowners’ ongoing costs is a great way to make your clients keep opening your emails.

The proof is in last month’s article click rates. The most popular article, Will Shutting Vents Cut Your Energy Bill? explained why shutting too many vents can cause problems in your HVAC.

The article worked because it delivered an “ah ha!” moment to viewers who thought they were saving money by closing off HVAC vents in their home.

You wouldn’t expect an energy-efficiency story to be contentious, but this one was. One viewer suggested the article was funded by oil companies. Ironically, there was also an email from a viewer with an oil company email address arguing that shutting vents couldn’t possibly harm the HVAC.

A few days later, a viewer wrote one of our Realtor clients and said the article was spot on. He’d had to pay $6,000 to remediate mold caused by shutting off about half the vents in a home.

You Have Backup

Things that influence a homeowner’s wallet will engage them. Another very popular story in August looked at changes coming to the FICO score this fall. FICO Changes Score Calculations: Will Your Score Rise? highlighted what’s changing in FICO, when those changes will happen and why mortgage credit likely won’t be immediately affected.

Explaining the details of the change (and the likely influence on how much homeowners have to pay for credit) positioned you as an expert in consumer credit.

Any time you explain something complicated, people are going to have questions. When that happens to you, I’m here to back you up.

You can send question to me at editor@homeactions.net and I’ll draft a response for you to send to the client.

-Dona DeZube is Chief Content Officer for HomeActions.

9 Tricks for Writing Great Email Subject Lines

9 Tricks for Writing Great Email Subject LinesTo work, an email newsletter has to get opened. That’s what makes coming up with a great subject line such a huge challenge.

Even viewers who recognize your name will give you only a few seconds to grab their attention via your subject line and the few words that show up in the preview pane of their email.

Try these nine tips for getting the clicks you need to succeed:

  1. Your word budget = 50 characters. Overspend it and your open rate will drop. Envision your subject line as a promo from a magazine cover.
  2. Identify yourself. Your clients screen emails and delete marketing messages from strangers. Using a consistent short phrase increases recognition.
  3. USING ALL CAPS MAKES YOU LOOK LIKE A SPAMMER. Use capitals sparingly.
  4. If your email is neither exciting nor relevant, exclamation points won’t make it so!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  5. Customers value your local real estate market knowledge. Highlight it by putting the name of your market in the subject line. If you’re blogging about a local paving scam, your subject line might be: Driveway Scammers Go Door-to-Door In Smithtown.
  6. Questions can grab attention when they trigger a need to answer. You could also write about the scammers like this: Have Smithtown Driveway Scammers Hit Your House?
  7. Tell me what’s in it for me. Shoot for a subject line that promises a benefit or the solution to a problem: 3 Ways to Outsmart the Smithtown Driveway Scammers.
  8. Avoid these words: Free, help, percent off, reminder. Would you open this email: Reminder: Free Help Still Available for Homeowners Hit By Driveway Scammers?
  9. Focus on what your viewers are most interested in: See Where the Smithtown Driveway Scammers Hit.

Don’t get this? Go with an email service provider who knows your market – homeowners. Our customers can set their email’s subject line as the title of the first article. That’s handy backup for times when they don’t add custom copy or for those too busy to write great subject line.