Friday, January 30, 2009

Marketing Spending Could Be Economic Recovery Key

The weather outside was frightful and the forecasts were anything but delightful. Earlier this week as I sat in a meeting recounting the glum 2008 economic picture nationally and at home, the biggest winter storm to hit the Greater Cincinnati area in several years was raging outside.
As about half of the planned crowd of nearly 400 showed up I was reminded that many consumers may be sitting on the sidelines at home instead of doing their part to infuse capital into the US economy this year.

One of the key indicators that analysts outlined in this economic outloook program was consumer spending. When you think about it, marketing plays a key role in helping to drive folks to the cash register. All you have to do is look at what marketers did during the holiday season.

A study released by professional services firm BO Seidman LLP, and recounted in Marketing News, the publication of the American Marketing Association, 32 percent of retail Chief Marketing Officers reported their budgets shrank during the holidays. Forty three percent recounted a status quo on spending while 25 percent actually increased spending.

It's understandable that companies would question the advertising messaging in these difficult times (value added versus price or product benefits, for instance). But if retailers continue to cut marketing (or even other more cost-effective means of awareness-raising such as PR and social media tools) without taking into account the toll on reduced sales, this economic slump may go on well in 2010.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Enquiring Minds Want to Know

I had a chance today, along with other leading public relations and marketing leaders to sit down at the conference table with Tom Callinan, Cincinnati Enquirer Editor and VP Content and Audience Development today. This was especially timely with the paper recently eliminating one section of the paper and cutting its features section by 25 percent. In a few months, the paper will also slightly reduce the width of its pages.

Overall, Callinan says there are more positives to report than negatives, such as: 1. Despite layoffs of about 30 managers and writers, the paper has actually increased the number of hard news reporters; 2. This news is a little old but I had never heard that Wired Magazine last year cited the Enquirer as a leader in advancing online news and it also ranked as the third largest aggregator of print and web news last year among the nation's 35 biggest papers finishing behind the Washington Post and Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel; 3. 80 percent of the readers who became subscribers when the Scripps Howard publication disappeared have remained with the Enquirer.

Callinan says many of the cutbacks have prompted complaints but now cancellations (the biggest gripes have come from presumably older readers who don't have cable and don't like the shrunken tv listings). A big worry for him is that earlier business models assumed that as readers aged into their 20s and 30s they would return to reading the newspaper for news about financial planning and paying for college for kids. He says paper analysts now realize that's probably not going to happen.

Bottom line on how people view the paper: His hope is that people see the Enquirer as trying its best to be a watchdog, not influenced in a negative sense by community leaders and organizations but not the enemy.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Aspiring Photogs Take Note

After the lull of the holidays, things are picking up at work. The Convention & Visitors Bureau in NKY is getting ready to host the annual convention of the Kentucky Professional Photographers Association (, Jan 22-27. This group has progressively grown in the half dozen or so years we have consecutively hosted their conference. It began meeting here after association officials realized there are as many professional photographers in NKY and Greater Cincinnati as there are in the rest of the Commonwealth.

This year however, the conference takes on even more importance as the event will expand to include the Mid-East States Professional Photographers Association ( which encompasses Kentucky, Ohio, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia. It could double the attendance of our event from 300 to 600. This regional event has never taken place outside Ohio. There's a chance we could possibly host the regional meeting every other year after this.

With the down economy, more people are open to entrepreneurial jobs. If you have thought about going into business for yourself as a photographer, this is definitely a show you should check out. By joining the KYPPA you can attend the whole conference for less than half the price of a new member. Total investment would be $100. Check out either group's web site for more details.