This post generated 159 comments, and landed in Trulia’s lap on Tuesday, April 29th, 2008, 10:36 am MST. The subject hit at the heart of Trulia’s astounding SEO success. Trulia’s response to this issue is an excellent case study in online reputation management that began with a blog-flame and ended with this MarketWatch interview.
On April 29th, Trulia’s first response was to see how high the flames would go. BHB is a very popular real estate industry blog. If the issue dies on BHB, then it’s likely dead everywhere else too. However, if the issue lives and progresses from birth to adolescence to adulthood in record time, it’s time to respond. And on BHB, “adulthood” was reached in record time. Thus, Trulia responded.
Trulia’s first public response on BHB was April 30th, 2008 9:58 am from Rudy at Trulia. His post did not seem to stem the tide of negative commentary. Thus, Pete Flint, Trulia’s founder and CEO, got in on the action that afternoon. Rudy’s and Pete’s posts were debated, derided, and defended throughout the day and over the next several days, with the issue basically fizzling out on the eighth day–an eternity in the blogosphere. Additionally, in the midst of this, Trulia responded on its own blog; an appropriate tactic and response vehicle in addition to their comments mentioned above.
In analyzing their response tactics in view of a possible PR crisis, Trulia did an excellent job–they jumped into the controversy, debated and tried to clarify points they felt were inaccurate (i.e., through their comments they got their side of the story posted on the BHB blog), and responded in their own forum. This latter tactic get’s their blog post about the controversy a nifty Google search result. For example, the search phrase trulia pagerank debate gives them a higher position on Google than the original BHB posting, and the phrase trulia seo debate gives them a similar great position. Trulia’s final act in the midst of this blog-debate was to issue a press release about their foreclosure survey, which was also picked up by newswires like PR Newswire Eur at 15:47:00 on 5/7/08 and AP Alert – HiTech at 15:49:22 on 5/7/08.
From a PR perspective, what’s masterful about this latter tactic? PR channel management: managing the blog-tech channel as opposed to the traditional press-consumer channel.
Essentially, Trulia ceded the fact that they would not win the blog-tech battle, and appears fine with having their side of the story told. Yet, Trulia appears absolutely focused on maintaining its dominate position in the eyes of the traditional press as the authority on real estate. To this point, what’s some evidence that Trulia has maintained it’s dominance in the eyes of the traditional press? The MarketWatch interview seen above.