It’s axiomatic. Business professionals, and investors tend to be goal, results, profits, and solution oriented. The manufactured housing industry is no different.
Restating the above, professionals care about results. Explanations of why something doesn’t work – which after a time, begins to resemble excuses – only lasts for so long in business.
The same is true in sports, or many other fields of endeavor. Politics can be an exception to performance, but politics – while in the background of the industry and media – isn’t the focus of this Daily Business News report.
If you want to skip to the video, it’s below. If you want the robust context, that follows next.
Frank Rolfe Video Comments on MHI, the Context
Several years ago, Frank Rolfe became part of a New York Times story by Gary Rivlin. Several association, and business professionals from the industry were part of the response linked above to that story.
Rolfe and his partners, as many know, are currently ranked by some as the number 5 manufactured home community operator in the country, in terms of the total numbers of home sites in their portfolio/inventory.
Rolfe is also an MHI/National Communities Council (NCC) member.
The context for this video is a larger discussion that Rolfe was invited to be a part of, and was arranged by MHProNews on behalf of the South Central Manufactured Housing Institute (SCMHI). The Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI) was invited, but declined.
The topic was the importance of the industry engaging with the media.
As Rolfe explained to dozens of attendees, and will now by video address far more, he took a chance by engaging the media. As the old saying goes, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
It should be noted that UMH President and CEO Sam Landy has told MHProNews that they welcome media oversight.
Publicly traded UMH welcomes media oversight. So, why do some others in the MH Industry tend to avoid it?
Rolfe has argued that whatever the motive may be, it looks to the media and public like “the industry” has something to hide.
Compare/Contrast, Frank Rolfe’s Video Insights with Richard “Dick” Jennison, MHI President, CEO
It would be an exaggeration to say that MHI never engages with the media. They have.
In no-spin fashion, for example, MHI engaged in 2015 with the PBS NewsHour. That was done against the backdrop of their multiple years of effort to promote their “Preserving Access to Manufactured Housing Act” agenda in Washington, D.C. on Capitol Hill.
MHI put out a pre-airing statement about the then upcoming PBS NewsHour segment that said in part, “As we have previously communicated, PBS NewsHour has been working on a story on the manufactured housing industry. While the airdate has already been considerably delayed, we now understand that PBS is planning to air the story on Saturday, Jan. 2 (check your local listings for airtimes).”
The MHI statement, issued under Dick Jennison’s by-line, continued as follows, “We anticipate the segment will be approximately 8-10 minutes long when aired, and will be accompanied by web copy. We have fully cooperated with the reporter and have tried to do our best to educate him on the dynamics of the manufactured housing industry, including challenges regarding legislation and regulations that are harming manufactured homeowners and our industry. It is possible – even likely – that, for the sake of balance, the reporter has interviewed activists and others who do not share our views on the benefits of manufactured housing and the importance of legislative/regulatory reform of manufactured housing lending.”
The MHI/Jennison release to the industry then said, “Our PR consultant, Reputation Partners, is telling us we should expect a “fairly balanced report…”
The Daily Business News will return to that thought another time, but Jennison’s sentence continued, “but we know that the reporter has interviewed and will likely feature individuals and families who are living in manufactured housing and are struggling financially or otherwise.”
The entire MHI/Dick Jennison statement, republished here under fair use guidelines, is linked here as a download. You can’t get more context than that, can you?
The Outcome of that MHI Media Engagement?
Here is a screen capture done today at 12:22 PM ET. Notice there are hundreds of thousands of “hits” on their PBS article/video. But the number 5 search result was a published release by MHLivingNews/MHProNews that responded to the PBS NewsHour take-down of the industry, and the MHI backed bill.
This screen capture above only reflects the first 5 search results. Rolfe also published a press release that was at the time the results above were captured, was also on page one of this Google search.
Where was MHI’s published result? MHProNews went to the source, and asked.
The Outcome of the PBS NewsHour Engagement
MHProNews asked MHI for a comment, and then for their ‘strongly worded’ rebuttal. As the email from Jennison reflects in the screen capture below, not only did Jennison refuse to provide their rebuttal email, but he claimed that anyone who attempted to debunk the PBS NewsHour error, ”are either misguided or have a self-serving agenda.”
Seriously? Or was this a case of MHI – CYA, and let’s try to help the industry forget that this ever happened?
Was Jennison calling Frank Rolfe and MHProNews/MHLivingNews publisher Tony Kovach, both MHI members at the time, “misguided“ for trying to defend the industry and its members?
Where those MHI members and other industry voices who joined that response – in Jennison’s view – “misguided” too?
Was Rolfe – a community owner, who along with thousands of others in the industry, who were potentially being harmed by the PBS NewsHour report – “misguided” – per Jennison – to defend his own businesses and profession?
Was MHLivingNews/MHProNews – which had at the time invested over 7 years in pro-industry efforts, including trying to help MHI pass their Preserving Access Bill – misguided for trying to at least try to clear up the errors of the PBS NewsHour report?
Or, as noted above, was MHI and Jennison trying to CYA, and get this behind them — and hopefully out of the industry’s busy, overworked memory?
Rolfe on Media Engagement Provides a Compelling Answer
Some de-facto MHI allies have attempted to portray MHProNews’ concerns and efforts to reform MHI – and avoid the next potential stumble – by learning from MHI’s past unforced errors, problems, and other various allegations.
So, to complete the tee-up for Rolfe’s video, MHProNews’ reminds Daily Business News readers that this publication responsibly tried entirely off-the-radar efforts to address the problems at MHI.
Later, those issues were lightly addressed. Still later, more robust fact-checks of MHI took place. Readers are encouraged to go back to the post linked, below.
During those years, MHI has largely failed to engage with the media, and when they have, it turned out much like the PBS NewsHour, or were paid advertorials, etc.
Rolfe’s Logic Live Statements
Rolfe, by contrast to MHI and Jennison, reasoned that the public impression will not change without an effort.
While Rolfe and this publication don’t see eye to eye on all subjects, we’re mindful of the Reagan motto – “My eighty percent friend is not my twenty percent enemy.” That said, we tend to see the importance of MHI’s failures in engagement similarly. So have others in the industry, as MHProNews has previously reported.
Given this robust context, here below is the Rolfe video.
Rolfe wasn’t even aware of Jennison calling “misguided” those who engaged the media or published a response to PBS, as noted above. So Rolfe could not have been addressing Jennison directly.
That said, Rolfe’s comments – in less than 60 seconds – explains why Jennison et al were, and are, arguably mistaken.
Why It Matters to the Industry, and Why MHProNews is Serious On This Issue
One of the common comments MHProNews hears from industry members is that the mainstream media impacts our industry’s image. Media and image therefor impacts the bottom-lines of industry businesses and professionals.
- Is Rolfe right in saying that the industry must engage the media?
- Or is Jennison right in saying that burying or ignoring bad news – which the industry has done for decades without success–
- which of those two are the better course of action?
Which approach – Jennison or Rolfe’s – is better for the bottom lines of the industry?
“We Provide You Decide.” ## (News, analysis, commentary.)
(Image credits are as shown above, and when provided by third parties, are shared under fair use guidelines.)
Submitted by Soheyla Kovach to the Daily Business News for MHProNews.com.
Kovach is the co-founder and a managing member of LifeStyle Factory Homes, LLC the parent company of MHProNews, which is celebrating 9 years of serving the manufactured housing industry. While she didn’t do the video capture of Rolfe, she produced the Rolfe video shown.