I’ve always liked Raheem Sterling.
But a lot of people haven’t.
In fact, a lot of people hated him.
He was booed mercilessly by England fans during the abject 2016 Euros and shouldered a lot of the blame for that debacle.
He was painted as a poster boy for modern day footballer stupidity, greed and excess by tabloids.
Even his teammate Kevin De Bruyne admitted recently that he initially thought Raheem would be a ‘dickhead’ when he heard he was joining the Belgian at Manchester City.
De Bruyne went on. “I had read all these things about him when he was leaving Liverpool. That he was greedy and arrogant, a ‘dickhead’ as you say over here. But that was all because of the media reports.
“Truthfully, I don’t have many close friends – inside or outside of football. It takes me a really long time to open up to people. But over time, I got closer to Raheem, because our sons were born around the same time, so they would always play together.
“I really got to know Raheem, and I recognised what a smart and genuine person he is. He couldn’t be more different from what the tabloids were saying.
“This is the real truth: Raheem is one of the nicest, most humble guys I’ve met in football.”
Dele Ali shares that view and went on record about it recently. As do pretty much anyone who has met Raheem. He’s a good guy.
Now for my estate agency industry point.
The Estate Agent Point
Only in the last few months has the public tide of opinion turned in his favour and rightly so.
But hey I’m biased.
He hails from the same corner of NW10 in north west London where I grew up.
And I’m always backing my local lads.
He’s currently favourite to be crowned player of the year this season.
He’s become a leading figure against the fight to extinguish the grotesque flames of racism around football that have shamefully blazed all too brightly.
His gesture to pay for 550 kids from his old school to attend the FA Cup semi-final between Manchester City and Brighton & Hove Albion was class.
And the reason why he did it?: “I was inspired when I was given a ticket to watch Chelsea V Man United in the 2007 FA Cup Final – it showed me what was possible.”
And the revival of Raheem shows estate agents, in my opinion, what’s possible when you’re genuine, generous and brave.
Now before people think I’m comparing disgusting racist abuse with the stick estate agents get, I’m not.
But estate agents are often painted by the media in a very negative light, public opinion of them is lower than a Zen Buddhist Monk’s blood pressure and a lot of folk think they’re dickheads.
But again, I’m biased.
That’s because I work with dozens of decent, hardworking, honest and community minded estate agents across the UK.
Raheem’s approach to how he has dealt with things got me thinking.
Firstly, he courageously and correctly challenged the media about the way they handled stories differently depending on a player’s colour.
Estate agents don’t do enough in my opinion to push back against the media when they are getting undeserved negative press. They tend to just bite their lip and take it.
Now don’t get me wrong. Some agents are schmucks as are some footballers who are dickheads.
But the good agents need to make more effort to have their side of the story fairly heard.
If you read a negative story about agents in the media or on a local forum / social media don’t be afraid to share your opinion and put forward your case for the positive.
And Raheem deservedly got a ton of good PR from his generous offer to the schoolkids.
On a smaller, but no less important level, I know plenty of estate agents who give local schools on their patches a lot of financial support through sponsorships and donations.
And in my experience good estate agencies realise the importance of being a positive part of the community and do their bit. Trouble is a lot of them aren’t that good at publicising it, which is where I come in.
Finally, Raheem has shown if you’re genuine, hardworking and kind you can change public perception. Obviously he has a huge platform to let his message and personality come across.
But agents have plenty of ways of communicating with people to.
By using their blogs, social media, marketing, proactive PR and simply being bold enough to challenge people’s stereotypes and misperceptions with charm, honesty and evidence (i.e. client testimonials, reviews etc) agents can paint a different, more honest picture.
Attitudes and perceptions can be changed – Raheem’s sterling efforts (sorry I couldn’t resist the pun) have highlighted that.
Thanks for reading,