Dumb Realtor or Brilliant Marketer? Agent Videoblogs while Driving


Dumb move
by a YouTube-addicted Gen Y-er, or cool marketing by a tech-savvy realtor?

Jeff Thibodeau, a Re/Max realtor in Brantford, Ontario, video-blogs as he drives between his countryside home and appointments in the nearby suburbs. He believes talking to a digital camera suction-cupped to his windshield is effective marketing and a good use of otherwise wasted time. Others say this multi-tasking is a safety hazard.

"I don't see it as any different than chatting with a passenger," Thibodeau told HousingWatch, as he sat in his office with his feet up on a chair. He says he presses record while the car is parked, then he drives and blogs. He stops the video after he has pulled off the road. The realtor has so far uploaded 15 video blogs to his YouTube channel since early December and plans to do about three to five a week.

Thibodeau, who has been a licensed agent since July 2008, says colleagues have warned him he might catch some heat from people questioning safety. But he argues that people video-blogging with their backs against a wall are just, well, boring. "The scenery going by when I'm driving is more interesting and more conversational. I look at the camera, look back at the road. I find it to be a more relaxed way to converse with people on video blogs," he explained.

Studies have shown that talking on a hands-free device is just as unsafe as talking on a hand-held cell phone. In fact, both increase your risk of crashing by four-fold, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Talking to a video camera falls in that category. "You wouldn't be paying attention to driving if you are creating a video," Anne McCartt, senior VP for research at the IIHS, told HousingWatch. "Your mind would be on the creation of this event to be shown on YouTube. Anything that takes the driver's attention away from the driving task is a distraction and is potentially dangerous for that reason."

You have to admit, though, listening to a real estate agent rattle on about buying techniques and commission rates has never been more entertaining.


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