What's this blog really about?

You may notice a variety of topics here - from business, to charity promotion, even to local news, but the primary reason this blog was created was to alert readers to the hostile atmosphere and sexual harassment at The Danville Register & Bee. The readers and creator of this blog want a FULL FRONT PAGE apology in the Danville Register & Bee, plus the disciplining of those individuals involved. Until then, we'll continue to post regular updates. To tolerate THIS kind of behavior by a major media network is intolerable. And this isn't just ONE instance. Media General has been sued nationwide for racism and sexism, yet they CONTINUE to keep the offenders employed. Why? And why am I doing this? TRUTH compels me.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Media General posts net loss of $85.5 MILLION dollars

RICHMOND, Va., Jan. 29 /PRNewswire-FirstCall/ -- Media General, Inc. (NYSE: MEG - News) today reported a net loss for the fourth quarter of 2008 of $85.5 million, or $3.86 per diluted share, including a non-cash pre-tax impairment charge of $130.4 million ($83.1 million after-tax). This compares to net income in 2007 of $9.6 million, or 43 cents per diluted share. The impairment charge and a tax valuation allowance that affected the quarter are discussed in more detail below.
Related Quotes
Symbol Price Change
MEG 2.38 -0.46
{"s" : "meg","k" : "c10,l10,p20,t10","o" : "","j" : ""}

Excluding the impairment charge, the tax valuation allowance, and $6.1 million of pre-tax severance expense, fourth-quarter income from continuing operations was $8.6 million, or 39 cents per diluted share. This compares to income from continuing operations, also adjusted for severance expense, in 2007 of $10.2 million, or 46 cents per diluted share.

Media General's fourth-quarter results reflected a decrease in divisional operating profits, the majority of which was in the Publishing segment, as a result of lower advertising revenues. Partially offsetting lower divisional profits were lower corporate expense, decreased intangibles amortization and reduced interest expense in 2008. Also affecting the quarterly comparisons were the absence of an insurance recovery, and losses and a write-down related to SP Newsprint, both of which were present in the 2007 results.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Dudes who take photos of boobs without permission

Obviously the outrage at men who take photos of women's breasts without their permission is growing. There's a whole website of perverts and poor, sorry, sickos who get their jollies off of photographing women's bodies and breasts without their permission. I'm sure some of these are among those who have never had a conversation with a woman without giving her their credit card number first. Here's a photo from this year's Burning Man.

The website with all the smelly offenders (easy to see why they have to go to an event and take photos of half-naked women. A telephoto lens is as close as they're going to get). http://dudeswhotakephotosofboobs.com/content/IMG_1716_large.html

Saturday, January 17, 2009

It's official - I'm going to England and the TED conference

After frenzied voting and Seth Godin's endorsement - the Johnny Bunko race is over and I've officially won. My opponent, North Carolina Leadership guru, Ed Brenegar, was a worthy and wonderful challenge and we'll be working together to spread ideas about real leadership over the next year.

The comic book I produced with Marty Whitmore and Megan Morris made it to Slideshare, a world popular website for great ideas. The book has been posted on dozens of websites worldwide and over the coming months...thousands, if not millions of people will be tuning in to read this blog, to find out more about what's happening in Danville, VA and perhaps - to BUY the newspaper....we'll see. More changes are in store!! Thanks for your vote. I look forward to posting more as TED comes closer.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A world stage

The voting isn't over until tomorrow, but it looks like I'm going to England on an all-expense paid trip to attend the 2009 TED conference, thanks to Seth Godin's endorsement today. He is an amazing marketer and an even more amazing man. I've been a member of Triiibes.com for more than six months now. Triiibes is a social media network Seth established this year just prior to the launch of his book, "Tribes" - which is an INCREDIBLE book and you should definitely go buy it (see it on the right of this blog and click on it for more info).

Anyway - I recently became a finalist in the Johnny Bunko writing contest (one of three out of hundreds of entries). The winner is selected by popular vote. Go here to vote. Vote for "Stay Hungry".... The race was tied at 40% 40% 20% last night. Then this morning I got up and checked and wow! At last count, thanks to Seth's blog post below - I'm at 64% and climbing!! Looks like I'll attend the all-expense paid trip to England to the TED conference in July!! I know a LOT of you guys have voted for me and I thank you!! So, just wanted to pass along the good news that "Things get BETTER when you LEAVE the Register & Bee." You won't read the news about my trip in the paper - they're pretty lousy that way...so spread the word!! You read it here first!! P.S. Download the FREE comic book I wrote and my friend Martin Whitmore illustrated to help win this thing! by going to Seth's blog.

Traffic magnets

Here's a trick that's as old as the web: Run a popularity contest with public voting. It could be anything from a listing of the top blogs to a creative contest for best tagline or ad.

The nominees run around like crazy, hoping to get their friends to vote. Which of course brings you more traffic. This is a large part of the strategy behind Threadless.

I get invited to vote in these all the time, to participate as a nominee regularly and most vexing, to post them here as a way of helping this person or that person achieve some sort of nirvana.

My feeling is that most of the time the cause is too thin and the prize is too lame. If your blog gets picked as the most popular woodworking blog by some other blog, it's really unlikely that you'll find many benefits other than a nice smile for your ego. On the other hand, if you can offer a great prize and/or be useful and relevant, this is a permanent tool in the web toolbox for you.

As I've said, I don't promote these. But, just this one time, I'm breaking my rule for Becky, who didn't even ask me to mention this, and for my friend Dan Pink, who has written another terrific book. If you'd be so kind to visit Dan's site and vote for "stay hungry," it's quite likely that Becky will win a paid for trip to TED UK, which she deserves and will benefit from.(She's only a hundred votes out of first place as I write this).

I promise to do something like this no more than once a year, so wait unto 2010 before you send me a note about your contest! Thanks.

Oh - late breaking...one of the members of Triiibes.com put together this video and posted it on YouTube.com. It's GREAT to get such support!! And the comic book made the FEATURE page of SLIDESHOWS last night too!

Amazing what is possible when people are positive, focused and CARE about people rather than simply wanting to exploit them, ridicule them or treat them with disrespect isn't it?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Start your own newspaper

Seth Godin says it's "Time to start a newspaper"

What should not-so-busy real estate brokers do?

Why not start a local newspaper?

Here's how I would do it. Assume you've got six people in your office. Each person is responsible to do two things each day:

* Interview a local business, a local student or a local political activist. You can do it by phone, it can be very short and it might take you ten minutes.
* Get 20 households to 'subscribe' by giving you their email address and asking for a free subscription. You can use direct contact or flyers or speeches to get your list.

Twice a week, send out the 'newspaper' by email. After one week, it will have more than 500 subscribers and contain more than 20 interesting short articles or quotes about people in the neighborhood. Within a month, (if it's any good) every single person in town who matters will be reading it and forwarding it along to others.

It will cost you nothing. It will become your gift to the community. And it will be a long lasting asset that belongs to you, not to the competition. (And yes, you can do this if you're a plumber or a chiropractor. And yes, you can do this if 'local' isn't geographic for you, but vertical).

Own your Zip code. The next frontier is local, and this is a great way to start.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Begining of the end of the Register and Bee

What happens when one business can't deliver, treats its readers and advertisers poorly and runs roughshod over a town? People pull their ads and find some other business that will. Alan Lingerfelt, having been badgered by residents for months now to add news and events to his paper, is doing just that! The email below recently went out to residents all over Danville. The circulation of The Piedmont Shopper, Danville's most popular source for classified news, now exceeds that of The Danville Register & Bee. The free publication is packed with classified ads, jokes and business ads, but now Alan is pushing ahead with more. He appeared before Danville City Council several months ago to inform council. Now he's making his move. Once Alan is able to get news, sports and events and publish them on a weekly basis for at least six months, he'll be able to make the bid to become a paper of record. Being a paper of record will enable him to go after the "legal advertising."

For those of you not familiar with publishing, the cost of legal ads is a significant chunk of advertising revenue and is the life's blood of a newspaper - particularly when the car dealers have pulled their ads and the the realtors are seriously considering pulling theirs. So send your news and information, photos and things into Alan today!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Get onboard the CLUE Train Register & Bee....

First of all, thanks to all those who have written with support and encouragement about this blog. I'm pleased to say that even Al Tompkins at The Poynter Institute has acknowledged that blogs like this are the direction the country is moving in. I told him that six months ago when I sent him the link, but now that popular writers and other sources are whipping the band wagon into a trot he's on board. He wrote:

2009 Marks the Arrival of Feedback 3.0
I am a fan of a site called TrendWatching.com. From "rough luxury" to clothing that is designed for gadget users, the site defines megatrends that are emerging in business. One trend, called Feedback 3.0, really caught my eye and sent my mind racing.

The site identifies the history of feedback as:

* FEEDBACK 1.0 (one of those early Web phenomena) saw outraged individuals posting scathing reviews, feedback and complaints, often to the delight of other netizens. Brands remained unaware or chose not to listen, dismissing these outbursts the way they'd dismissed any kind of customer dissatisfaction for decades.
* FEEDBACK 2.0 (which we're in right now) is about these rants -- and some raves -- having gone 'mass' (no, make that MASS!). The long-predicted conversation is finally taking place, albeit amongst consumers and not, as intended, between corporations and consumers. Companies have started to take note, but to a large degree still choose to listen, not talk back, trying to 'learn' from the for-all-to-see review revolution. Which is surprising, to say the least, since a quick and honest reply or solution can defuse even the most damaging complaint.
* FEEDBACK 3.0 (which is building as we speak) will be all about companies joining the conversation, if only to get their side of the story in front of the mass audience that now scans reviews. Expect smart companies to be increasingly able (and to increasingly demand) to post their apologies and solutions, preferably directly alongside reviews from unhappy customers. Expect the same for candid rebuttals by companies who feel (and can prove) that a particular review is unfair or inaccurate, and want to share their side of the story.

As the website The ClueTrain Manifesto points out, companies that do not listen to and engage the audience/customers miss out because:

1. People in networked markets have figured out that they get far better information and support from one another than from vendors. So much for corporate rhetoric about adding value to commoditized products.
2. There are no secrets. The networked market knows more than companies do about their own products. And whether the news is good or bad, they tell everyone.

Trendwatching.com goes on to show examples of emerging Feedback 3.0 in action:

* Tripadvisor's management response feature allows representatives of hotels, restaurants and attractions to respond to reviews written about their properties. Local business review site Yelp allows business owners to manage their own page with detailed information, and lets them respond privately to reviewers. The latter is also offered by product ratings and reviews provider Bazaarvoice, which allows owners direct contact with posters of negative reviews. HomeAway, the vacation rentals marketplace, has an owner-response feature that allows property owners to publicly post in response to reviews.
* There's also a self-organized 'right of reply': we've argued (for years, really) that setting up one's own conversation Web site for customers is the most amazing way to prevent damning reviews from popping up all over. It's been happening for quite a while on sites like Dell Ideastorm and My Starbucks Idea, where anyone can post suggestions, with Dell and Starbucks actually replying for all to see. Starbucks also Twitters about the latest happenings on My Starbucks Idea. Two conversation-expert firms that can get you started with this kind of FEEDBACK 3.0 are Feedback 2.0 and Salesforce Ideas, which powers Dell and Starbucks.
* Also, check out GM Facts and Fiction, a theoretically interesting approach by GM to tackling the many 'myths' about the company and its current problems. Pity they don't allow for any kind of real conversation… Last time we checked, the comments feature was turned off.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Do Ads work?

Do ads work?

Newspaper people believe they do. They've been taught to tell you what you want to hear in order to close the sale. Ask them about their degree in marketing. Do they have one? No. When's the last time the Register & Bee did a survey, one-on-one with their readers ASKING them about what ads they read? Never? uh-huh.

Now, I'll tell you what the studies show - it takes a MINIMUM of 12 ad views - that's right - 12 views for a reader to BEGIN to recognize your company/ad and that's IF they see the same ad. MOST people do not read the ads unless they are looking for a specific item. Many people will simply SCAN the ads looking for words like "SALE" or "40% OFF" or other items that indicate possible savings."

The ads that WORK are grocery store ads, car ads, real estate ads - ads that keep a constant presence in a publication that people read - not one that is printed and then the extra copies thrown in the recycle bin still bound from the printer.

The OLD way of advertising was to blanket as many newspapers, magazines and billboards as possible, and to buy as much television and radio air time as you could afford. That was BEFORE the internet. Now society is forming groups or "tribes" of people interested in certain things - like gardening magazines. If you sell gardening supplies do you think you'll get a better response placing ads where gardeners go for information (magazine or website) or in the local paper? You don't need to REACH 20,000 readers. You need to reach 2,000 or 200 readers who WANT TO BUY. See the difference? Would you rather try to sell 50 boxes of Girl Scout cookies to anyone walking into a hardware store or to people walking into a bakery or grocery store? Hint. The people walking into a bakery or grocery store are more likely to be in a cookie buying mindset. And the bakery may even be better than the grocery. Sure the bakery is smaller, but it's not size that counts. It's NUMBER OF POTENTIAL cookie buyers that count.

So - if YOU were a small business, what's your best advertising? Word-of-mouth, newsletters aimed at your customers, and the best return of all, permission marketing. What is permission marketing? Permission marketing is when you sign up to receive email or information from a company or business because you're interested in what they're selling. When we request a catalog from The Pottery Barn or The Gap, or LL Bean, we're giving them permission to send us ads.

They don't send their ads to people who don't buy their stuff and don't want to buy their stuff and save themselves millions of dollars that way. Why are YOU paying to put your ad in front of thousands of people who don't want to buy what you're selling?

If you sell hair care products, why not invest your ad dollars in a flyer with information about hair care (download the one I wrote/laid out/created here. IT'S FREE)

Put YOUR products in a flyer and leave the flyer at area hair salons. In exchange for leaving the flyer there (ie. what's in it for the hair salon) you put the names of the hair salons where YOUR product is available!!! The hair salon wins because they're not paying for advertising - they're just handing out your brochure! They're making their money from selling your product! So yeah - they're going to hand out the flyer.

NOW the people who use hair care products and come into salons are getting your "ad" and are MORE likely to buy. You haven't spent all your money in newspaper ads where people are only buying the paper for the grocery ads and the sports page. The money it costs to buy a half page ad in the Register & Bee that will run for ONE DAY is three times what it costs to have the flyer made. Add another $100 for printing and you have enough brochures for weeks - maybe months. And the brochures keep circulating. The newspaper doesn't. It's trash in a day or two. Why keep burning your money? Do you have that much to waste?

If you join Danville Business (joining is FREE), you can advertise for free on your page. No gimmicks. No tricks. As part of a social network you not only meet other people who get to know you and spread your name FOR FREE, you join the growing movement of new business practices - social media. What is social media? Watch this video.

And, as marketing guru Seth Godin writes in his business blog:

Do Ads work?

If the local bank were offering a sale on dollar bills, ninety cents each, how many would you buy?

Most rational people would say, "I'll take them all please." Especially if you had thirty days to pay for them.

So, why, precisely, do you have an ad budget?

If your ads work, if you can measure them and they return more profit than they cost, why not keep buying them until they stop working?

And if they don't work, why are you running them?

If you like advertising in a newspaper, it should be because it works, not because it feels good. Massages feel good. Winning at something feels good. But throwing money away on ads that DON'T work? HOW can that feel good?

Friday, January 2, 2009

Good management

With all the lay-offs around Danville a lot of people will be taking new jobs, any job they can get hired for. In the short term, the money is important right? But in the long run you can end up in a bad situation. Studies show that more than 67% of us quit our jobs because of a supervisor - a BAD supervisor. What's a bad supervisor? Well, when I was at The Register & Bee I had an evaluation - not early on when it might have been helpful, but more than a year after I'd worked there. What's that say about supervisors and management? BAD!! Clueless really.

During the evaluation I said I needed more feedback and that some appreciation wouldn't hurt. The pseudo-HR person, Ann Austin, and my supervisor, Bernard Baker, BOTH told me "We'd all like to be appreciated, but that doesn't happen around here so get used to it."

Wow. What's it take? Five minutes to say, "Thanks, I appreciate you staying late. Thanks, I appreciate your being willing to work a split shift and not have a life this week so we were covered." Doesn't cost them a dime, but by God! Appreciation is just something that doesn't happen there. Remember the toilets? Yeah...So when YOU are looking for your next job, and the person interviewing you asks if you have any questions for them, ask them, "How do you show appreciation for employees here?" If they can't give you examples, or look confused or even upset and WORSE if they're all cheery and say, "Oh! We love our employees, we're always appreciative," but the can't give you specifics, then keep looking. This goes for you newspaper carriers or would be carriers.

Oh, by the way, the law says if the carriers HAVE to pick up their papers at a certain time and HAVE to have them delivered by a certain time and are docked if they're late...that SOME lawyers - especially with the new laws passed recently, see that as EMPLOYMENT, not a contractor position...check with an attorney. You may be an employee of the Register & Bee - or so I've heard.

Back to appreciation. Take time this year to appreciate your people, especially those last two Register & Bee/Media General employees in this region who are still in the sights of the "convergence team" - I hear two more, I reported five, three down and two to go still....both supposedly in editorial...especially once they lose the real estate ads this year ;-D

Anyway....Happy New Year!

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Great Ideas

Thursday, January 1, 2009
Great Ideas! How about social media? What is social media/social networking? Watch this and then read the story below!

DANVILLE - The Danville Register and Bee's editorial this week called for "Great Ideas,' but the newspaper is ignoring one of the best ideas to happen in Danville in a long time - "Danville Business."

Danville Business, a social media site for local businesses and individuals, is a free website with information, news, blogs and groups for anyone who wants to join. Small businesses often need support, help and information when they start-up and Danville Business is just the place for them to get that help and information FREE.

If you are a small business owner you can meet and talk with other small business owners about things like how to grow your business, how to advertise and how to start your own social media group to increase customer traffic.

Started by The Longwood Small Business Development Center (SBDC), the site has more than 60 members, with more joining every day.

Businesses may advertise and post free on their site, everyone has free email and a free blog where they can post ads, hours, menus and other information about their business. It's not a place for "hard selling" and in fact, that is discouraged. True sales take place through connecting with others. Watch the video below and see what social media is all about. Then consider joining Danville Business. Just call or email Diane Arnold or Dave Slayton at the SBDC:

Longwood SBDC
300 Ringgold Industrial Parkway
Danville, VA 24540

Telephone: 434.791.7321
Fax: 434.791.7341

Diane Arnold

David Slayton
Program Coordinator & Business Counselor

Reasons why The Danville Register & Bee won't write about it? Because I set it up and play a part in making sure that small business don't waste their advertising dollars, that they understand the landscape of small business, even big business is changing and that social networking, not large expensive, worthless newspaper ads are the way things are going. Don't believe it? Then look around and ask yourself why so many newspapers are failing. The OLD way of marketing, selling and reaching customers is dying. The new wave is social networking and social media.

And if YOU and YOUR business want to learn HOW to do it effectively - FREE, without being charged an arm and a leg - then join Danville Business. No, you do not have to be from or in Danville to join. But is is invitation only. We promote NO hard sell and the kind of environment described in the video - one of people getting to know people. So check us out. You have nothing to lose...but don't expect to read about it in The Danville Register & Bee.

Remember, their idea of social interaction was filming......yeah..yeah...you know. Read the rest of this blog if you don't. They will NEVER apologize and will continue to insist nothing is wrong with hostile work places... so, our prayers go out to them.