Thursday, July 31, 2008

Connecting Hampton Road Journalists with New Sources



Mimics costly national services, but is free for both journalists and sources

(NEWPORT NEWS, VA – July 31, 2008) – Reporters and editors seeking sources for their news outlets in Hampton Roads, as well as businesses, organizations, experts and other individuals interested in obtaining coverage for their causes can sign up for a new free service that links them.

Sponsored by The Buzz Factory, a boutique PR and marketing firm in Newport News, the service, called “Hampton Roads Media Connectionz,” launches Friday, Aug. 1. Journalists, businesses and other organizations interested in participating should visit to sign up at any time.

While there are national organizations that provide similar services – most carrying expensive price tags for sources who subscribe – this is the first such service dedicated to serving only the needs of Hampton Roads. Because the service is free, Hampton Roads Media Connectionz is expected to provide more “grassroots” sources for journalists, as opposed to the well-financed businesses who can pay for national services.

Participants must complete an online form that subscribes them to the service. Afterwards, reporters and editors return to the site and submit queries for sources to help them with stories they are working on. The service is available to print, broadcast, online and freelance journalists.

Once a day, queries will be forwarded via email to all who have signed up as sources. When a subscriber can offer expertise to address a journalist’s area of interest, the subscriber emails the journalist indicating their availability. After reviewing responses, journalists then contact the sources that provide the best “fit” for their stories.

“We’ve been on both sides of the fence as former journalists now working as public relations practitioners,” says Gail Kent, owner and managing director of The Buzz Factory. “As PR practitioners, we’ve been connecting businesses and non-profits with the media for more than 25 years, and we know how difficult it can be to get coverage for newsworthy stories.

“And as former news reporters, we know how frustrating it can be to find the right source to interview for a story – especially on deadline. This service is a win-win for everyone, and the price is right.”


The Buzz Factory helps organizations powerfully interpret and tell their unique stories so that they will win customers, clients and friends, and influence opinion. For more information, contact Gail Kent: or (757) 930-0032.

NOTE: for the same free resource on a national scale, visit

LinkedIn Questions and Answers

I don't answer many LinkedIn Questions, but this one prompted my response:

Promoting a website to a specific demographic

My Wife runs a Mother, Father and Baby Website and is different from the usual Free Hosted sites, plastered in adverts. Her site is free and for Mums and Dads only, no dating customers etc. Its free from Advertising etc at present. It receives approximately 3m page views per month.

Can anyone advise me on the best way to promote her site to new mums etc over the world apart from using the normal Google search...

Richard Foleher, Siemens Senior Account Manager within the Rocom Group

My Answer (deemed #1, Winning, Expert)

So little time and so much content, especially on the web! For free placements and fast attention, I always suggest creating and posting a video (keep it short, entertaining and relevant). You can upload the video to YouTube, embed it on your website and make it part of your viral and press release marketing. Be sure to tell people that if they like what they see, you want them as "Ambassadors" or "Evangelists" and to "pass it on".

Also, if you have some marketing budget to work with, you can rent email lists from most of the major magazines in your target market. Find them on your favorite newstand (or google them, if you prefer), contact them. Some may even work with you on a trade basis. Use a simple email program like ConstantContact and promote your site directly to your target audience.

Another thought: if you want to remain FREE and free from advertising, there are plenty of consumer goods manufacturers out there looking for product placement to elevate their brand. Find relevant products, contact the mfg'er and see if they'd like to work with you. (Example: Think of the car nameplates and soda can labels you see in TV shows now!)

Hope this helps...I write about this stuff on my blog, too.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

SBA Study Identifies Hampton Roads as #1 in U.S. for High-Impact Firms

“High-Impact” Firms Create Most Jobs and Growth

Hampton Roads, Virginia-

A study just released by the U.S. Small Business Administration’s Office of Advocacy (SBA) ranks Hampton Roads #1 in the country with the highest percentage of “high-impact” firms when compared to other large metropolitan regions. High-impact firms are defined in the report as rapidly growing firms, accounting for almost all employment and revenue growth in the economy although they represent only between 2% and 3% of all business firms.

“Having a higher percentage of rapidly growing companies than North Carolina’s Research Triangle, Washington DC or Silicon Valley in California is a strong indication of the vibrant technology-based industries growing here” says Rick Lally, CEO of Oceana Sensor and Chairman of the Hampton Roads Technology Council (HRTC).

Released at the International Council for Small Business 2008 World Conference held in late June in Canada, the SBA study High-Impact Firms: Gazelles Revisited defines high-impact firms as those whose sales have at least doubled over a four-year period, analyzing the 1994 to 2006 period. To illustrate: over the 1998-2002 time period, the average size of high-impact firms in the 1-19 employee firm-size class increased by 534%, the 20-499 firm-size class increased by 322% and the 500-or-more class increased by 221%.

The study ranks regions, states, Metropolitan Statistical Areas, and counties by their percentage of high-impact firms, also known as “gazelles”. The study finds that high-impact firms contribute to the majority of overall economic growth and documents also, over the periods studied, that nearly all job losses came from low-impact firms that are also large in size.

“The Hampton Roads economic development organizations have proactively partnered with the private sector to enhance the defense and homeland security industry which resulted in the creation of the Defense and Homeland Security Consortium (DHSC) in 2005”, according to Warren D. Harris, Director of Virginia Beach Economic Development. “The Hampton Roads area has a robust defense and security sector, and it is imperative the private and public sector work in a concerted effort to address the issues that affect these firms and undertake initiatives to expand this sector.”

DHSC volunteers are comprised of officials from the sponsoring city’s economic development departments, educational institutions, workforce development organizations, federal contracting industry professionals and organizations. DHSC has aggressive goals adopted to improve the industry to benefit the entire community and support increased growth of local companies.

For example, each spring since 2005, DHSC has collaborated with Tidewater Community College (TCC) to bring the "Navigating Business with the Federal Government" Seminar Series to South Hampton Roads. The Peninsula Council For Workforce Development (PCFWD) has joined with DHSC to bring the same 9-week series to the Peninsula starting this fall, offering sessions by senior executives from successful local companies to share their experience on what made them, and their companies, achieve their success.

One of the newest initiatives of the consortium, led by Catherine Giordano, CEO of Knowledge Information Solutions and Co-chair of the DHSC, is collaborating to improve education and training opportunities available in Hampton Roads for current and potential employees of the federal contracting industry.

A complete copy of the High-Impact Firms: Gazelles Revisited report and rankings of high-impact firms by region, state, MSA, and county may be found by visiting the Defense and Homeland Security consortium website at For more details, contact DHSC Co-Chair Jack Greenhalgh at 757-345-5508 or

For more information on the report, contact the U.S. Small Business Administration Office of Advocacy, The SBA’s Office of Advocacy, the “small business watchdog” of the federal government, examines the role and status of small business in the economy and independently represents the views of small business to federal agencies, Congress, and the President. It is the source for small business statistics presented in user-friendly formats, and it funds research into small business issues.

# # #

The Defense and Homeland Security Consortium (DHSC) is a special interest community within the Hampton Roads Technology Council (HRTC) engaged in collaborative discussion and planning to increase revenue and profitability as well as heighten local, national and international awareness for all defense- and security-related businesses in the Hampton Roads region.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

We Feel Fine, do you?

TED is a very cool place on the web to find Ideas Worth Spreading.

At the Dec '07 Entertainment Gathering (EG) conference, artist Jonathan Harris discussed his latest projects, collecting stories. The video below (click on pic below to visit YouTube) is his presentation. Be sure to visit his online project "We Feel Fine", too. The video is 20 minutes long (that's the TED limit), but it's worth it.

Pour yourself a glass of wine, put your feet up and enjoy.

Chalk the Walk ARTsplosion in Virginia Beach

Virginia Beach's BeachStreetUSA brought us the 4th Annual Chalk the Walk ARTsplosion this weekend. Artists and “wanna-be's” used VB's boardwalk as their canvas, using a simple medium, probably one we've all used: chalk.

Here are some fine examples of the artwork. The 1st shot is the actual "before" picture taken, the 2nd is the shot altered by me thanks to a great graphic design program. This year's theme was Totally Television!

The winner, 1st Place Professional:



Notice a distinct public broadcasting theme here? If you like the pics, click on any of the AFTER pictures for a larger, downloadable file.

Here's some pics from the 2006 event, thanks to the neighbors at Chick's Beach 'hood.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Help A Reporter Out (HARO). No, really!

I'm one of those crazy, rabid fans and members of HARO's email list. Read the news report from The Industry Standard:

A source is a source, of course, of course, except when it's free and driving a huge company crazy

Jordan Golson


When skydiving PR guy Peter Shankman started the "Help a Reporter" group on Facebook last November, he thought his project would help link a few reporters up with sources for their articles -- not realizing that he was about to start a private one-man war against a giant corporation.

Now, HARO -- Help a Reporter Out -- is a mailing list with more than 16,000 members and dozens of source requests being sent out daily. It's also a significant threat to the only other major source-finding game in town, PR Newswire's ProfNet.

ProfNet, which reportedly costs upwards of $3,000 per year for potential sources, has a huge HARO looming in its rearview mirror. In March, Shankman turned his project from a 684-person Facebook group into a full fledged three-times-per-day mailing list that was dead-simple to sign up for -- and more importantly, free, for reporters and sources.

10 days after launch, he had doubled his readership, to 1,400 members. In two weeks it doubled again, to 3,100 members. May 1: 5,000. June 20: 10,000. Today, Shankman's little email list goes out to more than 16,000 readers daily. Not bad for a pet project.

A typical email starts with a few notes from Shankman about the HARO publicity or calling out certain queries as high priority or personal anecdotes about skydiving or his "not fat but big-boned" cats, Karma and NASA. Following that are 10-25 source requests from big name sources like CNN, the Washington Post and the New York Times, and some from small blogs and local websites. One evening email looked for "small businesses switching to rail due to fuel costs" from Reuters, a question about bridesmaids from an unnamed national publication, and a request for product offerings for the American Express holiday wishlist for 2008.

Not bad. But what do the reporters think? Jim Kukral, host of a daily podcast, posted a query for entrepreneurs and marketeers to be guests on his show. "In less than 24-hours I was bombarded with tons of high-quality and targeted proposals." I submitted query myself for people who had tried to activate a new iPhone 3G on launch day and had difficulties. Within an hour I had more than 30 totally on-target replies -- more than i could ever use.

As a reporter, finding good sources can always be a pain -- having a strong network of folks to call on is essential. Shankman's Help a Reporter helps link up reporters who need to meet a deadline with folks who are happy to share their knowledge, all free.

PRNewswire charges possible sources just to offer them queries with reporters. Anywhere from $600 to $4,500 a year depending on what "channels" they wish to subscribe to. That's a significant amount of cash coming in that is now being threatened by Shankman. Why would you want to pay PRNewswire when you can get Help A Reporter for free? One PR agency sent Shankman a note saying "I did it! We are off the grid. No more pr newswire!"

PRN is so concerned, Shankman tells me he heard from a source that ProfNet salespeople have been issued talking points against him -- and no wonder. With 14,000 "professional communicators" in its roster, that's significant cash, especially when your competition gives away its product for free.

Shankman says he'll never charge for his service and would never sell his mailing list -- the hour and a half per day that he spends on his mailing list results in great publicity for himself -- better than he could ever buy. Though, he does make some coin selling ads at "way over $100 CPMs" to advertisers like American Apparel.

Like Craigslist snagged hundreds of millions of dollars worth of classified ad revenue from local newspapers, the Help a Reporter mailing list is doing the same to PRNewswire. Using cheap technology to run circles around old media. It wasn't the first, and it certainly won't be the last -- but it does illustrate a belief that many successful entrepreneurs have: you never know what's something might turn into.

Copyright © The Industry Standard.

Follow Peter on Twitter, too! All hail "Social Media"!

Why Newspapers Shouldn't Allow Comments

In reference to a thread online, "Why Newspapers Shouldn't Allow Comments" is a recent article I enjoyed on

Here's my comments about comments:

While I'm a huge advocate of "free speech", value web 2.0, and believe wholeheartedly in encouraging and engaging citizens in open discussion, I'm beginning to agree with this premise.

Who am I? Not a "human resource recruiter or a second rate manager" as one commenter so eloquently and caustic-ly (his/her term) blasted me.

I'm a blogger, marketeer, communicator, PR professional and human being, just like you. Ok, maybe not JUST like you.

I need the written, the spoken and the visual to learn about what is going on around me, so I can make informed and intelligent choices for me, my family, my community, my world. I would hope others do, too, whether you're new to Hampton Roads (like me) or a life-long resident.

The article's main points:

  • Comments are thought to be an added value to newspapers, developing into an interesting, intelligent discussion. But, they almost never become interesting nor intelligent.
  • Deeply personal articles, upbeat news stories and the like end up unreasonably abused in comments.
  • Comments have not become the modern equivalent of the letter to the editor, as hoped.
  • Why does a news story need to be opened up for comments in the first place? It's news, not opinion.
  • Perhaps newspapers should moderate comments, or at least require the use of full names, but this is a misuse of their time, time which is limited more and more.

Newspapers online comments do improve their search engine optimization (a good thing) and fuel bloggers need for content (a great thing). We need newspapers, in whatever form or business model they end up taking.

I did like this quote: "If you ever want to lose faith in humanity, read any comments section on the internet." Amen!

My personal and professional concerns with comments? Most people believe what they see in print (including online). I'm not as worried by the one or two negative comment-ers. I'm worried about the cascading effect those few have on the many. Please don't believe everything you see written in comments unless authored by an authority or, better yet, referenced with relevant sources.

I'd love to do some research on "most comments received". It seems the hot topics for comments tend more toward the US or Entertaintment Weekly versions of news such as hottest bartender, prom fashions or auctioning a bridal party position on eBay.

What can/should comments help us do as their part in social media? Communicate, Collaborate, Connect, Create, Collect wisdom, develop Community, Converse, all leading to the big "C": CHANGE.

If one makes comments online, here are a few guidelines:

(1) don't find yourself accused of "astroturfing" or "sock puppeteering". That's Web 2.0-speak; look it up. Google can help you

(2) don't say (write) anything that you wouldn't be willing to say to someone's face (my mother taught me that one, akin to talking behind one's back)

(3) if you're willing to say (write) some of the ridiculous or malignant things seen in comments, then please consider contacting Newport News' Achievable Dream Academy and ask if they could start an Adult Remedial Education program

Please keep the comments coming. Let's just all strive for interesting and intelligent!

Here's the article, if you care to read what denigrating comments got me going today. COMMENTS

Social Media, NextGen, Best Practices from the experts

Couldn't have said it better myself!

Them = Us, change the world one child at a time

Found this very cool presentation on Slideshare. What do you think?

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Scary Oil Facts

Per DAY, the U.S. imports oil from the following countries:

Canada=1.864 Million
Saudi Arabia=1.453 Million
Mexico=1.410 Million
Venezuela=1.150 Million
Nigeria=1.082 Million
Angola=.496 Million
Iraq=.485 Million
Algeria=.443 Million
Ecuador=.198 Million
Kuwait=.176 Million
That's over 10.5 millions of barrels per DAY in 2007 numbers.
(Source: U.S. Dept of Energy)

China is the second-biggest fuel consumer after the U.S. In June, they ended gas subsidies, increasing fuel prices by approximately 18% (Source: China's National Development and Reform Commission).

Chinese consumption is expected to rise to an average 8.02 million barrels a day this year. (Source: U.S. Dept of Energy)

Despite rising fuel prices world-wide, energy consumption continues to climb according to the recent Short-Term Energy Outlook from the Energy Information Administration. Here's the full report.

Where will this all lead us, nationally and internationally?

Friday, July 18, 2008

Guilty pleasures, train wrecks and the FCC hates your gender-correct SOCK PUPPET

OK, first, I have to admit to a guilty pleasure. I like reality shows. The less real, the better. The more ridiculous the premise, the more intently I watch (or TIVO, as the case may be).

I like to explain this obsession away by saying: I'm doing market research, exploring the human experiments, delving into the psyche of man, blah, blah, blah.

Whatever. I just try not to cause more gridlock on the highways by slowing down to see the accident I'm passing. I prefer to watch "train wrecks" on TV. Reality TV.

Which brings me to my rant for the day: You've noticed the blurring effect used on Survivor, when the contestants minimal clothing fails to cover their "naughty bits". Well, I cannot for the life of me understand why the FCC would require the blurring of a SOCK PUPPET on Big Brother 10. Yes, you heard it here, folks! A SOCK PUPPET!

Bert saw it before I did. We replayed and replayed the portion of the episode when the castmates indulged in a SOCK PUPPET PLAY to alleviate the boredom and poke fun at fellow BBers. We had to make certain of what we'd just witnessed.

I couldn't find the actual screenshot, but here is a reasonable facsimile:

Can you believe it? I'd protest, but to whom? Has the U.S. really sunk so low into alledged moral depravity that even gender-correct SOCK PUPPETS are subject to scrutiny?

I'm hoping the censors at CBS were just having a little fun. But, isn't that an oxymoron? Fun and censorship?

Monday, July 14, 2008

Wait Wait revisited...

My favorite NPR radio show "Wait Wait Don't Tell Me!" was here in Hampton Roads in early June. No, make that my favorite radio show. Period.

Anyway, thanks to WHRO's wonderful freelance photographer, I was able to grab some of these great pictures:

Stars of the show Peter Sagal and Carl Kassel get the audience warmed up before taping.

Bert and I after the show with Peter Sagal, host of "Wait Wait", and Virginia Beach mayor, Meyera Oberndorf.

Bert and I with Mal Branch of the Virginia Ship Repair Association and his lovely wife, Nancy.

Bert and I with Carl Kassel, the "Wait Wait" co-host and official prize (at least his voice).

Rob Cross of the Virginia Arts Festival, his very talented wife Deb (Virginia Symphony principal flute), me and Bert.

Margaret Blackwell of Northrop Grumman and I share wine and stories at the "Wait Wait" pre-party.

An avid (or is that rabid) Carl Kassel fan. Yes, her shirt says "I Have Carl's Voice".

Can We Stop Our Addiction to Foreign Oil?

Here is the full video:

For more information, visit Mr. Pickens website at:

Looking for a math tutor for a little girl in Virginia Beach

Summer, an upcoming 4th grader in Virginia Beach , needs to be tutored in math before school starts.

If you know someone who could help, please contact her grandmother


Sunday, July 13, 2008

I must be old, I'm having my 30th High School Class Reunion this summer

CHS Class of 78 Reunion Info on
Central High School, Woodstock Virginia Homepage
Central High School on Facebook
Shenandoah County Virgina Schools on the Web
Mark Getz's CHS Class of 78 Webpage

any other links to share?

Friday, July 11, 2008

GRIDLOCK: What's the cost of doing nothing?

GRIDLOCK: What's the cost of doing nothing?

What won't happen?

• There will be no increase in the state's 17.5-cent-a-gallon gasoline tax, which — despite repeated efforts — has remained unchanged since 1986.

• There will be no regional tax or fee increases to improve the overworked local transportation network.

• There will be no big construction projects started from Williamsburg to Virginia Beach.

• No high-tech tolling or high-occupancy tolling programs will be started in Hampton Roads.

What will happen?

• Traffic bottlenecks and backups at the region's bridges and tunnels will continue to worsen as traffic increases in a stagnant space.

• The cost of some top projects will keep skyrocketing. When voters rejected a sales tax increase in 2002, the price tag was about $7.7 billion. Six years later, the cost has ballooned to upward of $11 billion. Inflation lifts that local price tag $1 million a day. Fuel, steel, concrete and asphalt prices are surging because of demand in China and other rapidly growing countries.

What might happen?

• High gas prices and a sagging national economy could curb travel and tourism, thus providing some relief from daily backups. The reduction is unlikely to make any substantial progress in opening up commutes.

• There could be progress at the Midtown Tunnel. Upgrading that clogged two-lane link between Portsmouth and Norfolk is being shopped to private companies, and the improvements could be paid for by using toll revenues.

Local projects stuck in limbo:

• Widening Interstate 64 from Bland Boulevard to Route 199 to improve traffic flow between northern Newport News and Williamsburg

• Overhauling the four-lane Route 460 south of the James River to give drivers an alternate link among Richmond, Hampton Roads and points south

• The long-debated third crossing to link the Peninsula with South Hampton Roads and alleviate congestion at the local bridge-tunnels

• Upgrading the Hampton Roads Bridge-Tunnel with either an extra two-lane tube or an overarching bridge to provide daily commuter relief

Republicans, democrats blame each other for transportation impasse.

-Kimball Payne, Daily Press

I blame us, the citizens of Hampton Roads and Virginia, for not standing up to be heard. Enough is enough. Stop the partisanship and political maneuvering.

Work it out. BeatTheGridlock and do it now!

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Cruise to Nowhere

Bert and I sailed during Harborfest '08 from Norfolk's beautiful Half Moone Cruise Center (located in our neighborhood at the Nauticus) on the Carnival Victory... the "Cruise to Nowhere".

This was my "practice" cruise. Two days out through the Chesapeake Bay into the Atlantic where, at some point, we no longer see land, then turn around and sail back. "Practice", since I'm not at my best on anything with motion, at least not things over which I have no control (like ships, roller coasters and planes). "Practice", since it would be better to be sick for 2 days rather than 7, in case we have the opportunity to take a longer cruise.

The Nowhere Cruise has all the trappings of a regular cruise, and Bert went all out to secure the best suite with balcony and our own mini bar and steward. We dressed up to dine in the special dining room. And, I took dramamine every 12 hours. Everything was planned so that I wouldn't even think about the motion of the ocean.

That is, until, someone mentioned that the center section of the ship looked just like the movie, Poseidon Adventure. You know the one, where the boat turns upside down and almost everyone drowns. Nice!

Anyway, it was a great cruise. I gained my sea legs about the time we landed back in Norfolk, and we found out that I could definitely do a longer cruise, one that actually goes somewhere.

The views along the Elizabeth River and the Chesapeake Bay through Hampton Roads was incredible.

We did have a bit of smokiness due to the fires still burning in the Great Dismal Swamp. You can even see the smoke spiraling skyward in this pic from our balcony as we set sail.

Monday, July 07, 2008, this is what Hampton Roads traffic looks like

View Hampton Roads I-64 Traffic cams HERE
and learn more about traffic in all of Virginia here:

Photo by Stephanie Oberlander, Virginian-Pilot (Courtesy of WVEC-sky13)

Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel (HRBT)

Monitor Merrimac Bridge Tunnel (MMBT)

"The Tunnel" to locals

Virginian-Pilot file photo