"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.
UPDATE - AUGUST 2010
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.