Recently I got 10 emails in one day, each asking: 'How did the Telegraph compile its list of 25 top people in UK residential property?’. Few things are as precious as a spurned male ego so in reality that question actually meant, in most cases, ‘Why was ‘X’ not on that list?’
I cannot answer either question authoritatively as I had no connection with the story. But the fact that it was created and published at all, and went on to kick up a storm on email and social media, shows the importance of one thing: a corporate ‘face’ to humanise a property business.
Look at it this way. If the list was ‘The 25 Most Important Businesses In UK Residential Property’ its contents would probably have been very different - not just the order but, almost certainly, the businesses included.
For example, as Britain’s biggest house builder, Taylor Wimpey would surely have been mentioned; Countrywide, the estate agency which handles one in 10 of all the UK’s home sales, would also have been there; you might also have expected a body like the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors to have featured.
Yet it was not a list of businesses, but instead a list of people - or, if you like, personalities.
So although companies like London estate agency Douglas & Gordon, niche developer Finchatton and posh south east buying agency Black Brick would be on few peoples’ lists of the most important businesses in UK property, their figurehead ‘faces‘ may very well be far more important...and all three did indeed make it into the Telegraph’s hit parade for that reason.
If this shows anything it is that by extensively promoting a 'name', a 'personality' and a 'face', a company can more than pull its weight in terms of influence in the property debate, in the media and elsewhere.
The 25 mentioned are, of course, hugely accomplished experts in their fields but it is no coincidence that most are also publicity-minded, over a third are active on Twitter, and many are put forward by themselves or their companies to ‘front‘ corporate activity even if they are not the most senior partners in their organisations.
So they are experts but, in the small world of property, they are personalities too. They help their companies and their views carry extra weight.
We might disagree on who should or should not have been on the list - most of us would have made the odd change, no doubt - but one thing is certain: companies with no ebullient and recognisable personalities do not stand a chance of getting mentioned on this list or, more importantly, will have less influence in the broad public debate on property.
It might not be right but it is reality. So get out there, become more vocal, and turn property into something interesting for the wider public.
That’s my answer to those emails over the Easter weekend.
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