Frank Rolfe, Darren Krolewski, MHI and Media Engagement
The Top Line – Media Engagement Matters to Your Operation’s Bottom Line. That’s why this issue matter$ to you.
In another exclusive report from the manufactured home industry’s largest and most trusted news source for professionals, MHProNews published extensive comments by Frank Rolfe, Darren Krolewski and others on the issue of MHI and Media Engagement.
Let’s begin a focused commentary by saying that every word published from every source in Matthew J. Silver’s hot article, entitled:
each quote spotlighted an important aspect to this issue.
For keen readers of Frank Rolfe Blasts MHI for Poor Media Engagement, Industry Reactions, please note that while Rolfe was blasting MHI’s news media practices and Darren Krolewski was defending them, each made cogent points, and both had penetrating insights.
Let’s also stipulate that the Manufactured Housing Institute’s (MHI) challenges in working with the news media are not to be underestimated. Rolfe is 100% correct in saying (paraphrase) that a reporter can be hard charging. A journalist might be on the attack from the moment an interview begins.
Darren Krolewski is right in saying there is so much more bad news than good.
Krolewski observation begs the question. Should it be so?
In Matthew Silver’s article, we did not use all of Rolfe’s words, nor all of Krolewski’s.
In every article, in most videos, there are things as a writer or editor that you must leave out, so that the report or video is digestible.
That said, unlike any mainstream news source you could point to, MHProNews will in the coming days publish Rolfe’s, Krolewski’s and others full on-the-record comments, within the scope of our editorial guidelines. Their words will appear on Industry Voices. There is a lot of posting to do on the popular Industry Voices blog, on a variety of topics. Those voices are your industry’s peers. So please do stay tuned.
Let’s preview what Krolewski said that was not published yesterday, and the reason why, because it was demonstrably topspin. We’ll get to that after a brief background on how Krolewski and I met, because it is very relevant to this media engagement topic.
Media Engagement — Background on meeting Darren Krolewski
First, Darren and I have known each other for about eleven years. I met him while doing a project with a sizable MHC operation; he and his dad – BJ Krol – came to do an evaluation of two regions for that community owner and a manufacturer working with them. One of the regions in BJ and Darren’s report was being managed by another person at that same company, the other regional supervisor was me. I still have the report, call me if you are curious to see/discuss it.
Summary? My team’s region was highly praised, and BTW, our smaller region outperformed two other larger, better funded regions combined.
Part of that project was about my personal efforts at media engagement on behalf of that MHC. My team took a backsliding region, with a problematic reputation in the broader community and region. We turned it around in under a year (again, I have the records, and glowing references). The local news media sat up and took notice! Why?
Because about 8 years before Rolfe’s 2014 NYTimes article, we invited the media in.
The first big published story in the regional press read so well overall (see image at the left), that it might have looked to some like an advertorial.
But we paid nothing. We promised nada. We wrote not a word of it, but we did share visual elements, which they gladly accepted and many of which they used.
That regional magazine’s report glowed. Why?
Because residents were happy, and what was a kind of grungy locale before, had became a neighborhood. It was how you turn 2 stars into 3.5 on a modest budget. That MH community became a really good place to live. Revenue, collections, sales all improved dramatically. There’s more than one comment on my LinkedIn profile, one from a local pro in that same market, who describes it in his own words.
Media engagement wasn’t the first thing, it was a middle step, after several other were taken.
I think Krolewski will back up the above, because he’s a good guy, and also because we have the
documentation, some of which came from him and his father, BJ.
So when Frank Rolfe and his partners buy and improve a community, I get it! We applaud professionals like Rolfe, Lamb, UMH, ROCs or many others who invest and improve the communities they aquire.
That personal/professional experience is one of several reasons why we don’t body slam him on terminology, because overall, Rolfe’s doing a lot of good.
Do I wish – and think it’s to Rolfe’s and the industry’s best interests – that he’d adopt proper nomenclature? Absolutely. He and I have had that discussion, more than once. 😎
Back to Darren and his Comment we edited out
With that segue in place, here’s part of what was left out of Matthew Silver’s linked report:
“As an MHI member I think that the organization is moving in a positive direction with bringing on a VP of Communications and some of the work that has been done in recent months to elevate the image of our industry.” – Darren KrolewskI.
Sorry, I respect and like Darren, but that was pure top-spin, so we left that out, while keeping his salient points. MHI is demonstrably not moving in a good direction on communications. The problems Rolfe cited in Silver’s report began before, and continue after MHI’s new communications VP came on the scene.
Frank Rolfe is far from alone in saying what he has. It does MHI – and the industry at large – no good to praise them on something they’re not moving in a good direction on.
Let’s use an analogy.
Do you praise an employee or agent for the mistake they routinely repeat?
Tim Connor says you get more of the behavior that you reward. Of course!
You can encourage someone – or a group – by giving them high fives for where it is merited. So, paraphrasing what Rolfe said, MHI has some nice people. All of us can be nice, all of us can do good. God doesn’t make junk. There is plenty of education, and talent available. There are keepers at MHI.
But when the same mistakes keep getting repeated, even after the VP of communications comes in, there’s a problem.
Displeasure of how MHI handles the media is a comment Rolfe says he hears from MH community owners, and we hear that from MHC and other industry pros too. We hear it from MHI members, and others in the industry. We hear it from MHI ‘insiders’ too…
The anecdote Silver used about an MHI member laughing publicly at someone who questioned their handling of the NPR story was included in the story, because it speaks volumes.
Own and Correct and Error, When Possible
When I goofed last weekend, I owned it. That should apply to us all. There is none of us – poor, rich or in between – who can claim perfection. All of us can and should learn, from others, and from mistakes – our own goofs, or the errors of others.
Which brings us back to the importance of proper media engagement. The Masthead applauds Rolfe for sounding off on an important issue.
But let me applaud Matthew Silver’s important report for this gem. Let’s quote in brown that brief but potent section in MHProNews assignments editor Silver’s narrative.
“The Industry’s Irony…
What overly sensitive professionals may miss in industry-politics charged issues are what largely unites the industry. Rolfe, Dare, Fath, Kelley, Krolewski and Kovach – all these and other voices not cited in this report want to see the industry grow.
So why aren’t critiques of MHI taken and given in that spirit of the search for a path for long-term, mutual growth?”
It’s long overdue for MHI to get over whatever it is that keeps them from listening and engaging – not only the media – but also with their own members. Going to MHI meetings are often like going to a lecture. Why? Where’s the listening? Neither this Masthead writer nor others who critique MHI are saying ‘blow the association up.’ Todd Lamb’s quote in the Silver’s report was clearly meant to encourage them.
Should “MHI Task Forces” be peopled only by insiders who go along, to get along? Has MHI asked Rolfe, myself or others who have actual results to point to, to be on a media engagement or educational task force?
I’ve not asked Frank, but I’d be surprised if he was invited in….
Let me draw towards a close with demonstrable examples. Under MHARR’s new president, they have become quite responsive to our questions. Many if not most state associations we ask for comments, ditto. We ask company presidents for comments. We routinely get them, often in short order.
Why not MHI?
Among the many powerful quotes and insight in Silver’s report is this gem from Frank…
“When you refuse to talk,” says Rolfe, “it looks to the public like an admission of guilt, and when you refuse to promote your product it looks like you are embarrassed by it.”
We self critique, and as Krolewski and others well know, we as a pro-industry trade publisher listen to the critiques of others. Will key people at MHI listen?
The quote from Rolfe we closed on in Silver’s report, is what MHLivingNews and MHProNews have been doing for years.
Our work has been based on real world experiences. That project Darren and BJ witnessed wasn’t a one-off. We’ve done those kinds of positive things for years. So why doesn’t MHI want to learn about them from us, Rolfe or the many others in the industry who are trying to do it right, but may not be part of the ‘insiders club?’
Doesn’t MHI want to share those positive experiences with others, so the industry will grow?
We welcome working with anyone who is forward thinking, solution oriented and has good will. We aren’t waiting on MHI or anyone else, but we’d encourage them to be involved with us too.
We will be doing presentations in Tunica on March 17th on the issue of media engagement. Let me encourage MHI to have all of their top people there. YOU should be there. Because what we’ve done with media engagement and communicating with and as media has produced bottom line results for the majority of those we’ve work with over the years.
The reason MHProNews and MHLivingNews exist is to engage professionals, the media, and the public as media. It’s profitable to engage the media, when it is done properly. Rolfe and others who successfully do media engagement can tell you, it’s not easy, but it pays off.
If you haven’t already see Silver’s red hot report, it is linked here. “We Provide, You Decide.” © ##
(Image credits are as shown above.)