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Friday, November 10, 2006

Reader Question: TV News Interview Advice

Here's a question from Doug, a reader our almost-neighboring state of Montana:

Hi Tim (and friends). I've been really enjoying this blog lately. I'm a RE market watcher in Montana, so it's good to see news and real analysis from the Northwest.

I made a little video about my market and, amazingly, a local TV station found it and e-mailed me. They want to do an interview and show parts of the video on their evening news later this month.

Just wondering if you or your readers have any advice on how to come across. The reporter already said she was interested in knowing my motivations for making the video.

Presumably, I'm going to be viewed as a sort of doom-and-gloomer who wants to ruin the party, put developers out of business, and flush our economy (largely based on construction) down the toilet. I think we have some real problems, and I want to point them out without coming across as a jealous renter.

Any ideas, besides wearing kevlar after it airs? Thanks.

(For the record, I am a renter. But honestly, the more I rent the more I enjoy it. Even if I thought it was wise to buy today, I'm not sure I'd give up the flexibility of renting).
Congratulations Doug on being recognized for your work. The video to which Doug is referring can be viewed here. I highly recommend you check it out if you haven't seen it already. Doug lays out the basic facts of his local housing market in a simple, easy-to-follow, and compelling way.

My advice is to be as friendly and positive as possible. It's hard for people to dislike someone who is smiling and comes across as wanting the best for everyone. Also, as you're talking, be aware that most of what you say will be destined for the editing room floor. News programs air soundbites, so you want to be careful about getting into any kind of lengthy explanations of your position, because they almost certainly will take something that you say completely out of context. If something takes more than two sentences to explain, either drop it or think of a shorter way to say it.

So what about all you readers? What advice would you give to Doug? Be constructive please. Insults or off-topic rants will be deleted from this thread.


Doug said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Doug said...

Good call about keeping things short. Watching the news lately, it's really struck me how much of a sound bite culture we live in. Tragic, really. That's part of the reason we got into this mess. I'm preparing my talking points as we speak.

What exactly can I say that's positive, though? In the 80's bust, the number of homes constructed dropped 90% in just a few years. Today's overbuilding could mean the same thing, which would mean a harsh blow to the economy.

The only "positive" I can think of is that affordability is very low, and falling prices could help restore it. But that risks sounding like "forget all you guys, I just want a cheap house."

I'm not exactly "videogenic" or "camera friendly" (cue Chris Farley / Bennett Brauer finger quotes), but I'll do my best to represent. Thanks!

LoneLibertarian said...

Use facts and discuss the recent market trends such as rising inventory and lower sales. Supply and demand, overbuilding, and easy credit.

You may want to discuss it as a credit bubble?

just some thoughts.

Crashcadia said...

You may wish to us it as a platform to warn people of the downside of a housing bust.

Homes become a house of cards

Richard said...

I'd stick to facts and avoid making predictions.

Anonymous said...

- figure out 2 or max 3 things you want to get across.
- write them out and practice saying them. The more you practice, the shorter and more concise you will become.

- do not try to get anything too complicated across. Stick to some simple facts or observations.

- as the Tim said, be positive and cheerful.

wreckingbull said...

I think the other positive you can point out is that a major adjustment is absolutely needed in order to assure the long-term health of our local and national economies.

As a nation we must get to a double-digit personal savings rate. Today, most people are hanging on by their fingernails just in order to be part of the housing boom.

Reasonably-priced homes mean more money for the 401K, IRA, and little Johnny's education.

Seattle Eric said...

Doug -

You have a great voice for this!

biliruben said...

Very nice, doug.

You did a great job.

Don't try to throw too many statistics out there. Just be honest, and come up with a nice summary statement or two.

Something like "it seems prices are out of wack with rents and incomes and historic appreciation rates" and "I'm worried about people like me who may throw their hard-earned life savings into what should be the American Dream of owning a home, only to risk losing it all if they stretch to pay more than their house turns out to be worth. People should be aware that a sustained decline in home values is very possible even in Billings."

Veedra said...


Nice job. Very interesting look at the part of the country where the market seemed not all that crazy.

My favorite part was "Everybody wants to move to Montana". Hmmm... Sounds familiar.

Eleua said...

Do you want to be a "doom and gloomer" or do you want your economy to have fundamental and sustainable balance grounded in reality?

Someone in the REIC (who benefits from an unbalanced, unsustainable economy with unrealistic expectations) will assign a "doom and gloom" lable to anyone that thinks the economy is in a real estate based bubble.

Try to say that you are looking beyond the immediate economic gratification, which is unsustainable.

The longer the economy is outta-whack, the more violent the re-whacking will be.

Hope this works,
Eleua - "Doom-and-gloomer"-in-chief