Monday, March 29, 2010

"Best of (YOUR Community)" Revisited - Updated August 23, 2010

"The Best of the Palouse" is an online enterprise just now getting started and attempting to gain traction in our local marketplace. I know nothing about the fellow who's launching it, other than what I might infer from poking around the site, which as a template seems robust and well thought out. Whether the effort sizzles or fizzles will depend entirely on his ability to market the site effectively, and as a 37-year veteran in the advertising and marketing arena I can tell you this is easier said than done.

I understand that this individual has entered into some sort of partnership with the local newspaper, which is a good choice, but not the best choice. He first should have explored working with the local radio stations (or our esteemed competitors across the border), based solely on the pervasiveness and intrusiveness of radio, as opposed to the inherently passive nature of print. In my opinion, working in partnership with the radio stations would give this new site a better chance of making a big splash and sustaining it.

A year ago, I blogged about why radio stations should pick up the ball and spearhead a "Best of _____" promotion in their communities. The article was later picked up by Radio World. As I explained in that article, the idea has been around a long time and, in my experience, has most often been the province of a print medium. Up in Spokane, the hugely successful regional alternative newspaper, The Pacific Northwest INLANDER, just completed their annual readers' poll. You can bet they'll be picking up new advertising dollars and enjoying a great deal of free publicity themselves as a consequence.

I share this with you now in the hope that, if such an opportunity exists in your market and you are inclined to jump on it, you're able to seize the moment before a competitor does.

If you do, please come back and share your story.


Since this was posted in late March, radio station reps had the opportunity to meet with Mr. BOTP. At first, he expressed an interest in partnering with the stations, though subsequent events made it appear that this meeting simply provided him with ammunition to go back to the newspaper and negotiate a more favorable deal with them.

In the intervening months, BOTP contests have included an ugliest BBQ grill, cutest pet, most attractive yard, biggest local university sports fan, etc. These have given the newspaper the opportunity to bring in new/incremental advertising dollars, while presumably Mr. BOTP gets paid to do some work for them.

From my perspective, the sublime irony in this teapot tempest is that our friends at the newspaper began using (surprise!) their traded radio airtime to promote these BOTP contests!

Lessons learned: 1) Know with whom you're dealing. 2) Get it in writing. 3) Be prepared for surprises. 4) Keep your options open.

Life goes on.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Myth of Multi-tasking

March 20, 2010

My last post here was at Christmas time. Today is the first day of Spring. Nearly three months have come and gone since I last sat down to write here.

A blog is simply one form of self-expression. I make my living as a writer of advertising and radio features -- a seller of ideas -- and even though writing well is a painstaking and time-consuming enterprise, I enjoy it immensely. This humble blog furnishes an opportunity to pursue writing for my own edification.

So why has it taken me three months to come back here? Surely, I could have carved out some time between commitments and projects, if only to scribble a few lines.

The fact is, I've lost a great deal of time in the pursuit of an illusory productivity. I've become a victim of the myth of multi-tasking.

For instance, I carry two cell phones -- one provided by the radio station and my own personal/business phone -- a tangible manifestation of the dilemma I face, having more professional interests than the time to pursue them, more irons in the fire than I can effectively handle, too many conflicting deadlines and obligations.

Yes, I have only myself to blame. I've always found it easier to say "Yes" to people, when I should be saying "No, I can't. Sorry." Whether it boils down to a lack of self-discipline or a fertile imagination, take your pick. Both apply.

I'm reminded of an article I read a couple years ago, written by a Hayden, Idaho pastor whose columns appear in the Spokane newspaper. He wrote, in part:

Christian friend, are you struggling with a lifestyle of busyness? Don’t despair. Christ points us to many off-ramps; we’ve just got to stop speeding past them.

In Luke’s Gospel, we’re given an account of Jesus having a meal at the home of two sisters. One sister, Mary, sat at Jesus’ feet and listened. The other sister, Martha, worked herself frantic trying to get the meal ready for a crowd of people.

Given our own lifestyles, many of us empathize with Martha when she complains: “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.” (Luke 11:40 – NKJV)

But consider Jesus’ reply: “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details! There is only one thing worth being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her.” (Luke 10:42-43 – NLT)

I really believe we find a few cures for a lifestyle of busyness in Mary’s example:

First, we can choose to say no. Most of the decisions we make that lead to busyness don’t involve a choice between right and wrong. They’re usually choices between good things. Helping Martha would have been a good thing to do, but better still was sitting at the feet of Jesus.

Let’s exercise the freedom to say “no” to good things; save “yes” for the best things.

For years, I've viewed multi-tasking as a way of making the most of a given quantity of time. Fortunately, I've been blessed with an amazing wife who sees things differently; to her, multi-tasking is just a nice way of saying "unfocused."

And she's absolutely right. It's time to refocus.