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  • Mal McCallion

#KateGate - The trust deficit

Updated: Mar 13



If you've been living under a rock for the last few days in the UK, you might have missed this - #KateGate is now an official thing, as a result of a bungled Mothers' Day attempt by the British Royal Family to prove that its Princess of Wales, Kate Middleton, is alive and well after a long surgery in January.


She's not been seen in public since and the conspiracy theorists have been growing increasingly bold on social media. Everything from divorce to death is being suggested as a Palace coverup, with 'The Firm' unwilling to admit to problems within the upper echelons of its hierarchy (Kate is - or was??? - married to the presumptive next King).


So what did they decide to do? To release a lovely family photo of Kate with her kids - a wholesome, #relatable moment on a national day of maternal celebration.


One problem though - someone had doctored the image.


The screengrab at the top is just one example of hundreds of critical analyses of the Instagram post, with detailed diagnoses of where it is presumed AI has had a (sometimes blurry, sometimes wristless) hand in faking it. The problem for the Palace is that, now, it appears even +more+ like there is something wrong, something to hide. Even when Kate herself - or was it??? - released an 'oops' yesterday to say that, "like many amateur photographers", she'd been messing about with the image in Photoshop and busted it, no one really believed it.


So, what's the lesson for us in the property sector, here?


Trust.


When even the £86m-funded UK Royal Family can't get a critically-important image together - without shambolically destroying residual goodwill in an institution that many want to believe in - it's clear that some level of suspicion is going to fall on every digital communication released in the future. Where I think independent local estate agents have an advantage is that - unlike the monarchy - they're genuinely relatable. They live locally. They're in the booze aisle in Tesco. Their kids multiplay with yours on Lego Fortnite.


This means that building trust is far easier for agents than for remote brands. An agent has been physically present for some time locally, often working from High Street offices that - rather poetically - could now be a genuine asset, as it helps to reinforce the - and, with AI from remote sources continuing to negatively impact these brands, deploying it locally, honestly, to help them achieve their ends better is a huge opportunity.


So embrace it. Let people know that you do use AI and where - because everyone, including them, will be using it in their/our day-to-day lives - and give them the understanding of why, and what it enables you to do on their behalves.


Whether it's incredibly cost-effective videos, or beautifully-staged virtual images, AI is going to help vendors to sell homes and landlords to let them - as well as many more potential buyers and tenants to imagine their lives inside. At ModelProp we have a TRUST_AI Charter that guides everything that we do - Transparency, Responsibility, Understanding, Safety and Trustworthiness are in everything we do ourselves, and all that we recommend for our partners and clients too.


#KateGate will be taught in schools for decades to come as one of the first major examples of a major institution 'doing AI wrong'. Learn from it. You're welcome to copy our TRUST_AI Charter - you can even use our icon too, if you like - and embrace openness and transparency when deploying AI to supercharge your business. Trust in your brand will leap - and you'll be much less likely to have to try and blame poor photography skills for anything that might be even a little off at publication.

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