Thursday, May 16, 2013

Come to Jesus, Mike!

Uncross your eyes, this has nothing to do with religion. In common parlance, a "come to Jesus meeting" is an intervention of sorts -- a sit down with friends where certain behaviors are called out onto the carpet and discussed without interruption. I guess a different way of putting it would be to take someone out to the woodshed for a good lecture.

I was really upset yesterday, and I felt very disrespected as a loyal supporter of Mike Holmes. This was not just because of iTunes, but because Mike's US fans were summarily dismissed -- deemed non-existent -- by the way the iTunes thing was announced on both MakeItRight.ca, and in the e-newsletter, of which there is a separate US and Canadian version. The announcement failed to mention that a large segment of Mike's fanbase would be ineligible to participate. It seemed that we didn't matter, and that the website, the shows, and even Mike himself were not for us, even though we the US fans make up probably half of Mike's fanbase. It's funny they didn't announce the iTunes thing on Mike's Facebook page, or even the Holmes on Homes Facebook page. Could it be that if they had, they'd be inundated with pages and pages upon pages of complaints, and they just didn't want to deal with it? But that's just my own speculation.

Mike is all about making things right, and yet ironically for some reason, the communication/interaction that "Mike Holmes, Inc." has with his fans -- ALL of them, not just the ones who happen to live in the GTA -- is in need of great repair. If I could have a fantasy sit down, a "Come to Jesus Meeting" if you don't mind me saying, with Mike Holmes and the powers that be in the Holmes Group, this is what I would say, speaking as a careful and studious outside observer...


#1 - Mike Holmes, you ARE a celebrity. Yes, you are a contractor, nobody doubts your mad contracting skills. But just as you can be both a father and a son, you can also be both a celebrity AND a contractor, at the same time. One does not exclude the other, nor is there any shame in admitting you are indeed a celebrity. I don't know who told you that you weren't one, but whoever did is wrong and needs to be fired. The sooner you come to grips with and embrace your celebrity status, the sooner we can move on to point 2.

#2 - You are NOT a Canadian celebrity -- you USED to be, pre-2006 or 2009 or whenever it was that Holmes on Homes first aired internationally. No, you are now and forever will be henceforth from this point forward an INTERNATIONAL celebrity FROM Canada, in the same vein as Michael J. Fox and Wayne Gretzky. OK, maybe not quite in the same vein, but close. You see, there are a million and one reasons people around the world love you -- your charm, your skills, your integrity, and the list goes on. Pretty damn low on that list for most people is the fact you were born in Canada. Maybe it's higher for some, but typically being born on Canadian soil is sort of a neutral thing, much like being born in Mexico, or Africa, or ANY country for that matter. And yes, I am aware that Africa is not a country. It's not like you were born in England and have a cute accent like Gordon Ramsay. Perhaps if you were the first baby born in outer space or on the surface of the moon, we could talk, but sorry buddy, Canada (God keep her glorious and free) isn't as big a part of your TV persona as you might think. We, your international fans, acknowledge your Canadianism, we embrace it, we love you because of or in spite of it, but really, we see you as JUST Mike, who happened to be born in Canada and who loves and represents his country well.

#3 - Get a dedicated web team! If you already have one, they're not doing their job. Your website looks like amateurs made it using professional software that they bought at Costco. An international celebrity like yourself should not only have a website that loads properly on all devices - PC, Mac, and mobile - but it should also be current and up to date. The first and primary source for information shouldn't be someone's crappy blog, it should be your website, and you have failed to properly utilize this powerful tool. You owe it to yourself to put the best face possible on the empire you have built, and a large part of that face is your online presence. This includes having one of your team members taking photos and/or video at EVERY event you attend -- speaking engagements, ATV excursions, trade shows, etc. Fans should not be scouring the internet for someone's shaky cell phone video or blurry pictures taken 1000 feet away and posted to Facebook to get an accurate recount of your day. I'm talking PROFESSIONAL day, not private. You are of course entitled to your privacy, but what you do as Mike Holmes the international celebrity should be documented for your fans, because those are the kinds of things your fans want to know about.

#4 - COMMUNICATION. This is my biggest complaint and what I feel is in need of the greatest amount of maintenance. Facebook and Twitter are not cutting it when it comes to communication with your fans. An example of poor communication... when you attend an event anywhere in the world, it should be announced in advance, and 24 hours does NOT count as advanced notice. Let me tell you how it works. Trust me, I have experience in this department. When people watch your show, they get to know you, and they become fans, and some of those fans want to meet you. You become part of people's lives, and it becomes rather important for these people to know where and when they can come and say hi in an appropriate venue, such as a trade show or a book signing, as opposed to pestering when you're out with your family eating dinner. Your fans must know in advance of your coming in order to make arrangements, such as taking time off from work, getting child care, or perhaps even to make travel arrangements if they're really serious about meeting you. All of this of course goes out the window when you and your web team fail to communicate with your fans. Your public appearance schedule should be posted on your website well in advance so that loyal supporters can make the basic adjustments to their lives in order to come out and see you. And while you're there, your web team should be taking photos, video, and otherwise documenting your visit to share it with those who couldn't make it out for whatever reason.

#5 - Your PR stinks. You need some PR-oderant. Case in point, yesterday's iTunes debacle, henceforth referred to by The Holmes Spot blog as iTunesgate. iTunesgate was a perfect example of how not to relate to your public. iTunesgate made quite a few American fans feel very alienated for no good reason. Some good old fashioned PR and a little bit of communication would have prevented, or at the very least softened the blow of iTunesgate. Another example might be how the Holmes Magazine went down. As the old adage goes, you can't always make everyone happy, but I think there is room for improvement when it comes down to managing your public image. Sh*t happens, but it's how you deal with the sh*t that makes or breaks you. It's a good PR person's job to shovel the sh*t so you end up smelling like a rose. At this point, it would be helpful to refer back to points 1, 2, 3, and 4 for a better perspective on how I think you could better handle the relations you have with your adoring public. Wash, rinse, and repeat.


I hope my criticism can be seen for what it is... a constructive albeit opinionated rant. The last thing I would say to Mike Holmes if I had him in the room with me is that I adore and admire him, and he's a huge inspiration to me. Nothing would make me a happier and more satisfied fan than to be able to watch ALL of his shows and specials on TV, and to be able to come by and say hi when he's doing a book signing or a garden show within 500 miles (driving distance) of my home. A little more consideration for fans at home and abroad would be very much appreciated.

21 comments:

  1. Well said Raquel.

    You know, I'm tempted to print your comments & send it to Mike but I'm not sure he would get it or even read it.

    After all, I never heard anything from anybody when I sent a letter to him after the closure of the forum.

    Or maybe I should see if I can catch up with him at a show or book signing. The problem with that is that there haven't been any for quite some time because he seems to spend more time on the road than anywhere else.

    In any event, I'll print your post & keep it handy, just in case an unexpected opportunity should arise.

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  2. Thank you!!! Totally appropriate and well said. ~Lilly

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  3. After checking out the iTunes announcement on the Holmes websites I finally understood why they stopped producing DVD's of the shows after season 5.

    Not announcing it in the US makes even less sense now. Can you imagine the orders they could be getting from that market?

    I worked a number of years for an international corporation as Sales Promotion manager & was later promoted to Director of Purchasing. We had a sales force of 500 people across the country with 15 districts.

    I was responsible for direct mail promotions, contests, displays & publishing a weekly 30 page bulletin for the sales force. Even installed one of the first in-house Offset printing dept.

    I would offer my services to Holmes group for free, in fact I floated the idea several times while moderating the forum. I even had samples made at my expense for items that could be offered on their website.

    Looking back now, I was wasting my time.



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  4. Hi Raquel & All Fans,

    I have been lurking on this site since shortly before the sudden shutdown of the Official Mike Holmes Fan Forum, but today's post has called me to action. I am also in the US & have become completely disgusted with how The Holmes Group & even Mike himself has handled all of the above issues. I guess there is a big part of me that wishes that the United States had a similar champion. I watch a lot of the home imporvement shows but there is no US contractor or host that can even compare!

    Thank you Raquel for keeping the torch & keeping it real. I will continue reading your blog several days a week. Unfortunately I cannot use any other profile other than Anonymous.

    lingoosse

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  5. I agree. There's nothing more that needs to be said. Do I think anything will change? I hope so. I don't know if the Holmes Group even recgonizes they have a problem in the first place. The Holmes Magazine was a PR nightmare, and Mike came out looking bad. Should have been handled a lot differently. I like the one person who said that the buck stops with the person whose name is at the top, and that person is Mike. Very well said, I hope this gets passed up the grapevine, if not to Mike then maybe to the VP Liza Drozdov. Good luck with your blog, glad you decided to keep it going. I too must remain in the shadows, but I enjoy reading.

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  6. Sherrie LauthnerMay 17, 2013 at 1:57 AM

    Hi Raquel,
    I want you to know how much your blog is appreciated! You keep me informed of what's going on with Mike! Like you said, his Facebook & websites don't tell most of what he is doing. You are the most reliable source for accurate information. I check your blog everyday! I totally understand your frustration, but I hope you keep the blog going. I would, as well as a lot of other fans, miss checking it everyday & feeling confident that I can trust the information you give to us. What your doing means a lot to Mike's fans! Don't ever feel like what your doing is not appreciated! I just wanted to tell you that & to say Thank You! I hope somehow Mike reads what you posted today, he needs to know how his fans outside of Canada feel & you said it perfectly!
    Thank You!

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  7. I agree with all that was said by everyone of you. I wish Mike was aware of this blog because I don't think he realizes how his fans are perceiving him based on the actions of those who work for him. I do think that occasionally he does visit the Facebook page because there have been a few posts that pop up that I think ARE from him. I doubt though that he has time to read through everything on his page though. Just the fact that everyone is begging him to come to where they live and help them should be one sign that people all over the world think he is their savior. It bothers me that there is no such person in the US with that appeal although, John DeSilvia on the new Rescue My Renovation is doing just what Mike does but without all the fanfare. Maybe the DIY Network can't afford to promote him the way HGTV promoted Mike in the beginning.

    I myself had wanted to go to iTunes and purchase the episodes of Mike in New Orleans. I saw the extended version that is 6 episodes, I think, and then the shorter version that was only 2 episodes that aired on HGTV. It's not something HGTV aired more than once or twice, especially the longer version. I hadn't actually tried to buy the episodes to watch on my computer but only found out about them not being available to the US by reading this bog. I did see someone post something about the DIY videos by Damon being posted by Point Load Pictures on their Facebook page. One person said "I guess it's not available to download to your iPhone". I checked and this person resides in Ontario so I thought that was strange. Usually anything downloadable by Mike's group is available on anything Apple (iPod, iPhone, iPad, etc) and not all of us own Apple products. Maybe Apple products are the product of choice in Canada but not everyone can afford them.

    I sometimes wonder if all that is happening with Mike is being orchestrated by him. Maybe he had too many things going at one time and realized that he had no time for himself or his family and now he is trying to backtrack a bit. I think it's too late for that.

    Anyway Raquel,I think we all understand your frustration and you have the platform to voice those frustrations and now we do too. Please keep up the great work you are doing keeping us informed. You are the go-to place for anything Mike Holmes. We appreciate all you do and would understand if you decided to take a break from it all. You have a personal life too and we all understand that and appreciate all the hard work you put into keeping us informed.

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  8. I don't understand why these iTunes can't be purchased from the US.

    I buy stuff from the US over the internet all the time. In fact, I'm expecting a shipment any day now.

    If Holmes can offer their books in the US, why not other stuff? Maybe they should set up a small office in Buffalo or Niagara Falls to deal with the US market.

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  9. Damon's DIY video's are only available on the hgtv website because they have nothing to do with mike holmes. You need flashplayer to watch videos on hgtv and iPhones/ipads don't have flash so, you have to watch them on a laptop or desktop. Not sure if android devices have flash?

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  10. I went to iTunes and couldn't even find Mike's videos there. I searched for Holmes on Homes-Mike Holmes in New Orleans and can't even find Holmes on Homes. If you click on the link from their newsletter, I get the message that I have to choose an application and honestly, I've never gotten that message before. I think that if it's not available to the US, you won't even be able to do a search for it on iTunes. I think the Holmes Group knows who lives in Canada and who lives elsewhere so why do they send the same newsletter to both, especially when it comes to purchasing videos that are not available outside of Canada?

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  11. I just wanted to say thank you to every single one of you for your very kind and supportive words. Jundee, Joanne, Sherrie, Lilly, and the various Anonymi, thank you. I want to let you know that my husband and I sat down last night and this morning and read everything you guys have written, and we litterally talked about it for two hours. You all are very insightful and I really appreciate your perspectives and insights. I'm totally blown away by what amazing people you all are. I guess I get a little frustrated, because before I even knew who Mike Holmes was, I was a big fan of a very popular music group. I won't name them, but they have 30,000,000+ Facebook buddies - BIG. I got very use to a well-oiled, tight, very orderly machine, and maybe part of the charm of Mike Holmes is that he's not so big and well-oiled. Even so, I think there are some major cracks in his foundation that I'd really like to see him fix. I think by fixing these small deficiencies, he can not only make more money for himself and his organization, but a lot of that burden can be lifted off his shoulders and transferred to others. Mike's all about hiring pros and getting the job done, I really think he needs to take his own advice in certain ares, hire the right pros to handle certain areas in his organization that are lacking, and I think he will see a big return on his investment in a very short time. That's just my opinion. I'm not deluded, I don't think that anything I write have much of an impact on anything... it's not really the reason I wrote it anyway. I had to get this off my chest to be able to continue writing. I did, and now I move forward.

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  12. Good for you, Raquel.

    It helps to get things off your chest.

    Remember, you have a lot of fans in your own right that appreciate what you do & that are rooting for you.

    As far as Mike is concerned I have a theory that his main problem is that he may be a terriffic contractor, with a great heart & a genuine wish to help.

    But I think his problem, as it is with so many contractors, is the fact that they may be great when it comes to the skills of their trade but when it comes to the administrative side of their operation they are not very knowledgeable. Especially when there is a rapid growth.

    Sure, Mike has learned things over the years but you can't beat a good grounding in the adminstrative side of any operation.

    I spent many years in the hospitality business & if I had a dollar for every person who liked to eat & drink well, had great people skills,
    started a restaurant & went broke in less then a year.

    The failure rate of a restaurant succeeding in the first year is 80% in this country & I don't think it's any better in the States.

    Mike has had great success so far but he should be careful not to over reach himself.

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  13. I'm going to be seen as the ugly voice here, but so be it.

    Canada is a foreign country, it is not the 51st state just north of the border.

    Mike Holmes (in this context) ***IS*** a Canadian celebrity.

    Regarding "Holmes Makes It Right", this content is made for the Canadian market, not the American market. There are MANY MANY issues with taking that programming and selling it in a foreign (that's US) market that you may not be considering. Many issues with copyright, trademarks, music clearance, etc. Heck, the cast may even need SAG cards for all we know. All that takes time to work out. The networks who hold the rights to the show obviously know that there is a market for that content here in the States. Stomping your feet, holding your breath until you turn blue, and telling Mike Holmes how he should be running his business will not get it here any sooner.

    I would not be presuming to tell Mike Holmes that he needs to "come to Jesus". I see that as borderline insulting.

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    1. First I disagree with your assessment that anyone with half of their fan base in the US could be a purely Canadian celebrity, but I'll agree to disagree with you on that point.

      I'm also going to disagree with you STRONGLY that HMIR was created for a Canadian audience. Going back to this time last year and before, the show was being advertised by the Holmes Group as airing simultaneously in the US and Canada. They were suppose to come out a week apart, first in Canada, and then in the US a week later. That didn't happen for whatever reason. Never have I ever disrespected Canada's sovereignty as a country separate from the US or implied that it was the "51st State" and if you have followed this blog for any length of time that wouldn't even be a question.

      You don't know my background, but I am very knowledgable about what licensing is and how it works, and nothing I have ever suggested or opinionated on has been unreasonable or disregarded issues such as licensing.

      Lastly, I don't presume to tell Mike anything. This is a fan run blog, not an official forum, and as is clearly and explicitly stated hundreds of times throughout this blog, all opinions expressed are my own. I do not presume that Mike or any member of his staff from his VP all the way down to his pool boy would be remotely interested in anything I write. Nor do I find it disrespectful or insulting in any way to constructively criticize, especially in the kind, flowery, and humorous way that I did in the above post. But I appreciate your point of view, and I thank you for presenting it in a respectful way, however wrong you may be ;-) wink

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    2. I don't recall anybody on this blog suggesting that Canada is the 51st US state.

      Quite correctly, Mike has become an international celebrity. The show(s) currently air in the UK, Scotland, Ireland, Germany & can be seen in many Europaen countries even though they are not broadcast from from there. They are also shown in Australia, New Zealand and the Canadian Forces network in Afghanistan.

      I was told by ine of Mike's duaghters that the show can bee seen in about 100 countries worldwide. I didn't get a list but I know from the posts of members on the Forum that the show must bee seen in many countries that are not officially listed.

      Forbes nominated him as the 3rd most trusted person in the US last year.

      If Mike was able to secure all the required documentation for the shows he did in Pasadena & New Orleans as well as the distribution of his books, etc. I don't think he would have any problems of the type mentioned by "Anonymous".

      Nobody is trying to tell Mike how to run his business but the fans were the people responsible for his celebrity and success so they have earned the right to make suggestions.

      The average viewership of any HGTV Canada show was around 30000. Mike's show attracted an average of 10 times that many.

      I'm alway amused, and sometimes annoyed, by the comments & responses from people who have never met Mike, only know what they see on TV or read in the media.

      I've known Mike from his early beginnings going on 10 years, how hard he worked & the problems he had to overcome. There were events that Mike had to deal with that are confidential.

      I'm not saying that to brag, but simply stating facts. I doubt there is any fan that has been involved with Mike for longer, knows his crew, his staff, his executives before they became VP's, his contractors & even some of his suppliers.

      But I've never been a blind, worshipfull fan. The risk of any celebrity is that they attract people who want to benefit from their association with a celebrity. Mike is a regular, down to earth guy but he's been taken advantage of in the past & I think that's made him careful.

      His fanbase is what made him successful & I don't think it would hurt him to consider some of their views.


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  14. May I also point out that since holmes on homes, holmes inspection & holmes in New Orleans all air/aired in the US without complication, the reasoning of the previous poster just isn't sound.

    Perhaps hgtv US has so many other shows to choose from that they cannot be bothered dealing with the obviously very disorganized holmes group. Perhaps Mike the man & mike the character from the show are 2 different entities & perhaps mike the man is difficult to work with? Just a thought.

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  15. Mike is not devious enough to play 2 different people. If he were difficult to work with he would not have so many people on his staff that have been with him from the beginning.

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  16. Wow.

    Talk about biting the hand that feeds you! Who do you think makes all of the content and events (that this blog posts about)happen behind the scenes? Mike's team.

    I work for a company who is partnered with the holmes group and have had the pleasure of meeting with his some of his team at his headquarters. They do not deserve to be dragged through the mud like this. Constructive criticism is one thing - parts of this post are just cruel. Especially coming from someone who says they are a fan.

    I know on good authority that they are re-launching/branding their website sometime in the near future. Their office walls were covered in designs when I last visited.

    I really hope Mike's crew & team don't read this post. Talk about a smack in the face.

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    1. 1) Mike's/the Holmes Group's hand doesn't feed me.

      2) It's obvious you are commenting without actually having read what I wrote, so proceeding further in defending statements that I made which you didn't read is pointless for me. What part, exactly, is cruel? That I said his PR "stinks"? Yeah, that's like one step down from kicking Mike's dog, right?

      Your status with the Holmes Group impresses me not. Aside from that, no one is doubting what wonderful people there are working for Mike Holmes. If you had read what I wrote you would not have jumped to the faulty conclusion that this was an indictment on any one person, including Mike. It was a careful and studious outsider's observation based on recent and not so recent events, and a little bit of common sense. Absolutely no one was "smacked in the face," as you would know had you read what I wrote.

      And one last thing, the fact that they are actually working to fix their website problems, depending on whether or not I actually believe what you wrote, only goes to prove that there is one. So, again, what did I say wrong?

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  17. Didn't I say something about "blind, worshipful Fans" (I should've added "Anomynous??".

    PS: Their website has been around for quite a number of years & they're going to fix it now??

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  18. Actually, I have read this whole series of posts. What I find troubling is that people post as 'Anomymous' and hide their identity. If you stand behind what you post, you should reveal yourself!

    If any Anomymous posters have a problem with my statement, please feel free to email me at shobson@hotmail.com and I will gladly assists you and set you straight!!!

    Shirley Hobson

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