One of the fundamental core values of the MLS (beyond offers of compensation) is the organization and communication of property information database. The role of the MLS as a communicator is a hotly debated topic, because the communicator becomes the identity and spokesperson to a wide range of agents and consumers alike.
The MLS as a communicator is largely predicated by the governance of the MLS, its bylaws, and the standards set by the MLS shareholders and board of directors. Today, most MLSs have one or more REALTOR Associations as their shareholders. The board of directors is typically appointed by the shareholders and may include real estate agents, real estate brokers, or the Association executive.
Most MLSs communicate to the industry. They communicate to agents, brokers, and associations at the local, state, and national level. This is pretty standard for an MLS service provider.
More aggressive MLSs are putting themselves in the center of the conversation about real estate issues by communicating to consumers. They do this with public facing websites, publishing market trends, issuing press releases to local media outlets and hosting real estate related events. In this regard, the MLS is an advocate and connector between consumers and the professional real estate family.
Other MLSs do nothing. They allow the Associations take the public role in communicating to the industry and to consumers. In a few isolated cases where you have broker owned MLSs, the brokers are the communication conduits to the industry and to the public.
There is no single answer. The most important answer is to evaluate who is communicating to the industry and who is communicating to the consumer. Evaluate the consistency and quality of the communication. If there is no consistent communication – lead the charge to determine a strategy for communication and an identity for communication. The MLS, the Association, and the brokers are equally qualified to communicate to the industry and-or to consumers. The biggest business risk is allowing a third party like the media to be the voice of real estate.
Internal Communication Trends
Login Page: The MLS log in page is the #1 way to communicate with agents. If you are putting the Associations up front as industry communicators – the MLS login page should be on the Association website. If the MLS is the communicator to the agents, then the MLS domain address should be the log in destination. I suspect that in the future, brokers are going to push to have their website as the destination for their agents to login to the MLS. If you make a change in your login page – turn the other one off entirely. Having multiple access points only creates confusion and segments the effectiveness of mass communication.
External Communication Trends: According to Pew Research, more than 50% of all adults are using social media as a communication tool. If your MLS, Association or Broker Facebook or Linkedin page does not have at least 20% of your agents connected – you have work to do. These social media sites are bridges between the real estate profession and consumers – use them. They work. Press releases, blogs, TV shows, advertising, and participation in community events also need to be leveraged.
Everyone wants to be in the center of communications. Raising your hand and taking responsibility is easy, but fulfilling the job is hard. It takes staff, resources, writing ability, public speaking ability, software and lots and lots of dedication. If your MLS, Association, or brokerage needs support with building a communication strategy – we can help.