This week a lesson was learned and it wasn’t a nice one!
As a rule our agency are forward thinking and one step ahead of the game, but this can give a false sense of what is right and what is wrong.
We encourage other agencies to take our ideas and use them to improve themselves and, hopefully, that will eventually improve the industry as a whole. For instance, we have started initiatives and trends which are now quite commonplace in the world of estate agency, such as the ‘Live Chat’ facility on our website, our local business reward card & VIP schemes, our rental investor tour bus, our ‘Bags4Life’ delivered full of moving-day essentials and, of course, our ‘all industry qualified’ standard of staff.
Regularly we present our initiatives to others within the agency and help them to replicate our ideas into their own brands, we even have a team of people who will offer help and guidance when required. It is our nature to give and, whilst we often have some friendly banter with our counterparts over ideas replicated, it is never taken seriously. We want to move forward and it is flattering for us to have people follow our lead, genuinely, I think a lot of people would testify to this.
However, not everything should be replicated, sometimes this can be referred to as being ‘ripped-off’ and sadly, we fell foul of this recently. Whilst we are very sorry to have been publicly ‘caught out’ and have, thankfully, had our apology accepted, we offer this tale as a warning to others on the evident and very public etiquette of social media bad practice (think James Arthur on last Saturday’s X-FACTOR, and cringe quietly).
BLOGS are individual to the blogger and regardless of where the author is situated, his or her work can travel far and wide, and it is NEVER correct to steal that content without asking permission or giving credit to the aforementioned author. This is one of the most important parts of training staff, when you are a company who relies on the entire team to contribute to the website. It must be said that at Sewell & Gardner we have some pretty brilliant staff, most of whom contribute regularly to our blog and do so with passion and individuality. It did not cross my mind that, when checking the spelling and grammar for any last minute tweaks before publishing, that ‘homework can be copied’ and I should have made it very clear to all staff blog contributors, that plagiarism will not be tolerated. So to awake to my ‘twitter alarm’ and see a comment asking why Sewell & Gardner had copied a blog without permission, was quite a shock indeed.
It transpires that one of our younger staff members had read Chris’s blog, thought it was excellent and relevant to our customers, and then copied it, pretty much word for word. No permission was sought from Chris, neither was he mentioned as the author, the blog was now completely a Sewell & Gardner branded piece of writing, complete with staff sign off & photo, as if we had been the author. Not cool, but I doubt very much that is was done with an ounce of malice or even a seconds thought to the fact that our followers stretch beyond the local community and all around the estate agency network of the UK. Chris was not happy and rightly so, his thoughts, his words and his industry expertise was suddenly replicated by an agency at the other side of the Country.
It’s a harsh lesson for us to learn, but, having checked through, we are pretty certain that this is the only time a blog has been copied and I hope it will not put off any of the staff from contributing in the future. They all have some great insights into the property market in our area and a lot of great advice to give! From now on all contents of our blog will be 100% OURS to share and if I smell a whiff of outside assistance I will ‘move to trash’ PDQ (Sorry Chris, couldn’t resist that one).
I hope nobody else finds themselves in ‘R&D’ (replicate & duplicate) hell (especially at 7am on a cold Winter morning).
Jane Gardner, Director