Category Archives: Business

Where the hell are you?

I read a blog post from someone who lives near Boston. He was announcing a partnership with a publishing company doing some exciting things with hybrid digital and traditional publishing. Wicked cool, I thought, so I hopped on over to their website.

The team sounded great, their site was modern and the plan seemed solid. They claimed a lot of experience with traditional publishing so the first thing I wanted to know was their proximity to New York.

After a dozen or so clicks, I realized that they were not going to tell me where they were located. Period. Their home was the wide-open Internet.

Place matters. Place influences how you see the world and how accessible you are to the world. People need anchors and a sense of place. Potential customers need to know you really, really exist beyond a website and email address. Nothing establishes that like place.

Tell people where you are. Me? Englewood, Ohio 45322. Off the corner of Main and Wenger.


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Journalism 2.0

Like most of America yesterday, I was glued to my television, eagerly awaiting the ruling from the Supreme Court on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. While I had some personal interest in the outcome, discussing the pros and cons of the Act and ruling is best left to other venues. For our purpose here, I am more interested in the process of how the news was revealed and the business/trade groups’ reaction to it.

Later that afternoon, I saw the Cleveland Clinic tweet fly by in my steam. I was curious about what they had to say. Here is President and CEO, Delos M. Cosgrove, MD’s response, complete with video.

Notice the time slugs. The SCOTUS ruling was read at approximately 10:17am EDT. The page on the the clinic’s web site was slugged at 3:19pm EDT, a mere five hours later. If this were a news organization, that would be far from impressive but the Cleveland Clinic is a for-profit company whose primary business unit is in treating patients, not reporting news.

There is some B-roll on the video, but the reporting had a level of specificity to the ruling that tells me this was not pre-prepared. Cosgrove’s interview may have been pre-taped and there may have been two versions depending on the outcome, but for the most part, this appears to have been put together in real time.

As newspapers and television news departments shed reporters, this is where journalists are going — into private companies and trade groups. While Google and Twitter can report the news very quickly, it takes the skills of a quality journalist to analyze it and present it succinctly so that speaks directly to your customers or membership. They want to know what the news means for them. The message is even stronger when accompanied by the strong visual of a chief executive.

Not every news story will have the reach and gravity of a SCOTUS ruling on health care, but not every organization provides the goods and/or services your customers or members need either. Your customers or members can get their news from anywhere or they can get it from you, a trusted source who will work harder to let them know what it all means for them.

Your choice, but I’d look into hiring a journalist. While you still can.

Hourly rates

At some point in a conversation with a prospect client, the question gets asked;

“What is your hourly rate?”

“We don’t have an hourly rate. If you want to pay an hourly rate, you should think about hiring an employee.”

As you can imagine, this confuses a lot of people. Many of those confused people go away and hire some other consultant who will probably either get reamed by the client or end up reaming the client. Either way, it will probably not end up well as eventually one or the other party will feel like they are being taken advantage of.

At some point in the exchange of skills for money, we have been conditioned to think about the value of our time in hourly rates. Whoever thought of this measure was either a genius or a madman. When you think about it, the more time you spend doing something, the better you get at it so it takes you less time to do. When a client compares your hourly rate to someone else’s — who may not be as proficient — and awards the job based on lowest bid, they are inherently paying for lessor quality. Who spends time honing a craft just to get paid less today than they did yesterday for better work? Nobody I want working on our brands.

An hourly rate rewards the slow and unskilled. A project rate rewards those who are proficient and quick.

It’s your success that is ultimately at stake. You decide who you want to work with. We already know.

There be pilots everywhere

Last week, the New York Times ran a story about harbor pilots in San Francisco. As it turns out, there are only 57 such pilots qualified to do that job.

Until I read that article, I did not know they existed. Until just now — as you are reading this — you probably didn’t know either. Congratulations if you did.

San Francisco Bar Pilots have been guiding large vessels from the Pacific in and out of the harbors since the Gold Rush in the mid 1800s. They know every sandbar, shoal and current on any given day and season of each harbor. They are what large shipping vessel captains place their unquestioning trust in to get them safely from the open sea, into the harbor and back out to sea.

A pilot makes an average salary of $451,336. Some say they are doing it only for the money.

I think there is something greater here that drives someone to want to be a harbor pilot. Someone who is that motivated by money can probably make just as much or more working on Wall Street and not take on the liability and stress of guiding a multi-billion dollar vessel through such danger, working in an office exposed to crappy weather.

Every industry has its pilots. Seek them out. Trust them to pilot the waters you choose to navigate. And give them respect; they’re not doing it just for the money.

Four skills every college graduate needs

I was shooting the breeze with a college professor friend of mine the other day because his son is getting married this coming June. We were musing over where the time goes and the topic turned to “kids today” as he was also trying to entice his nephew to an unpaid internship in his department. He is set to graduate after six years of pursuing a degree in journalism… no change that to communications… no, wait English.. oh, what I meant was education.

His mother — my friend’s sister — called him in a moment of panic, pleading with him to give her son an internship so he could build a reel or book of work. She does not want him sitting around the house, unemployed and unemployable for the summer and the following year. Worse, she does not want to foot the bill for grad school.

All of this led to a discussion about the core skills that every college graduate needs — regardless of the degree — but especially those with a Liberal Arts degree. They are; photography, videography, writing and social media.

The technical challenge of building web sites and containers to hold things has already been solved. Anyone can waltz into WordPress or Tumblr and set up an online presence in minutes without any coding skills whatsoever. You can set up a brand page on Facebook and Google+ without any design skills as the format is already handled. If there is anything more complicated, chances are you can buy a plugin to handle the task.

If you really wanted to branch out and customize your basic site, there are thousands of templates and skins to slap onto your site. While it may not make your site entirely unique, it comes close enough.

But what these sites need most is good content.

Photos. Videos. Blog posts. Social media engagement.

Learn these skills and you will never be unemployable.

   
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