Saturday, August 30, 2008

Sharing Thoughts #13

#13 is an appropriate number for this quote:

"If we're not making mistakes,
we're not really trying."

- Bert Schmidt, CEO of WHRO Public Broadcasting
in Hampton Roads, Virginia

WHRO improves the civic, educational and cultural life of the Hampton Roads community through broadcast, communications, and media services.

(Bert is shown in picture above with Virginia Governor Tim Kaine on left)

Friday, August 29, 2008

Who knew I was so popular?

Evidently I, Missy Blankenship, am running for President, not as an Independent, but as a viral "write-in" candidate. I told my friends not to do this, as I am apolitical, but who am I to fight the social groundswell? Visit or watch the video here:

Can you tell your life story in 6 words?

Everyone has a story. Can you tell yours in six words? No more. No less.

I added mine. I've added the question to LinkedIn as well and will post some of the best here. What an overwhelming response thus far!

Submit yours to be considered for SMITH Magazine's next six-word memoir book.

The first book, Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six-Word Memoirs by Writers Famous and Obscure, was published earlier this year and is available now.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

Do you make people search for "Search"?

80% of website visitors don't even explore the navigation links you provide on your website, they go straight to the search box. (If they can even find one!)

Do you have a search feature on your site? Does it work? Is it easy to find? Search is often the first thing people do when they visit a website.

Do you know what people search for? If you know, you can fine tune your website and site navigation to help people find what they need.

Did you use my SEARCH? If not, give it a try and give me some feedback.

Communications Professionals more valuable than ever to Organizational Health

If you say something to a crowd and no one hears it, did you really communicate?

According to "The Authentic Enterprise", a white paper report recently released by the Arthur W. Page Society, as the communication of organizational values has become increasingly pertinent, CEOs are becoming more dependent on their Communications Professionals.

This dependence and critical key issue will only increase over time. As per the report, what do CEOs consider most important in their Communicator:
  • an intimate understanding of the organization
  • an extensive communications background both broad and narrow
  • an ability to anticipate audience reaction to events, messages and channels
  • a close, personal relationship internally with employees at all levels
  • a strong propensity to training others in the organization on communications skills

The "IT" List

Wanted to share what I consider to be THE list in Hampton Roads, the Job Blast email. The Job Blast is something that my friend, Elaine Kennedy, does as a courtesy to colleagues in sales and marketing. She believes in the "Pay It Forward" principle just as I do and knows that if you’re in the industry you WILL be looking for another job sooner or later!

The jobs range from entry-level up to VP Marketing and Sales levels with commensurate salaries. Jobs have also included web designers, programmers and developers; customer service positions, printing and mail house reps; publishing positions; media sales, design, and production personnel; and marketing communications/PR positions. The Job Blast is:

  • Free to all
  • A distribution for sales & marketing and related job announcements (that includes all related industries/disciplines)
  • Not a means to distribute resumes
  • Not affiliated with any organization
The Job Blast started more than 5 years ago because people knew that Elaine knew people. There are more than 380 sales and marketing professionals on the Job Blast list now. And, Elaine's emails are some of the most-forwarded in Hampton Roads! It has become a great place to post a job or get a job targeted to sales, marketing and related professions.

So if you want to POST a job to the Job Blast email or if you know someone who would benefit from OPTING-IN, email Elaine at

Thanks to:
Elaine Kennedy of RECHARGE Marketing
...helping businesses grow since 1986

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

See a need for "Visioning"?

With more and more articles (and public comments) such as this published everyday in Hampton Roads, in print and online, it only reinforces the dire need for a community-wide, grassroots "Visioning" process.

From the pages of the Daily Press:

Tolls and more
Leasing the bridges and tunnels will get you only so far

August 26, 2008

Dwight Farmer has a long-standing habit, inconvenient for tax-a-phobic public office-holders, of sticking to the facts when it comes to roads and transportation. Recently he showed up before the Williamsburg City Council, true to form.

And what he said is worth contemplating, especially as the Labor Day weekend traffic jams loom.

Tolls won't get Virginia out of its congestion problems, said Farmer, executive director of the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission. Not by themselves. And not without some driver pain and political pushback when the tolls get implemented.

Yes, leasing infrastructure is one way to get a public-private push behind road building. The state essentially subcontracts its tolling authority and lets a private business handle the toll collections, thereby providing a revenue stream to build and maintain highways.

And tolls are paid by the users, which is the right principle for road-funding.

But to tout tolls as the be-all and end-all, the easy way to the bright, far side of a darkening tunnel of congestion? No, says, Farmer. You can't get there from here just by tolling. The state — that means the taxpaying public — is going to have to put up some major dough.

And that's the part many state legislators pray to avoid — avoid like the plague, in fact, because they have consistently held out the absurd proposition that you get new roads built without the bother of new taxes.

Now it's going to get more problematic, as news rolls out of significant revenue shortfalls in the state budget. And that means shortfalls for everything, not just roads. With education funding now in direct competition with road needs, along with other state priorities, the overall situation promises to be strained, indeed.

Further, with highway maintenance needs digging deeper into the state budget, Virginia may lose its ability to draw down federal matching highway funds, perhaps as soon as 2014.

Even if fiscal life at the state Capitol was all roses and sunshine, the heavy lean on road tolling has a half-life that can be measured by the amount of time it will take drivers to figure out they're still paying the bill.

In order to romance road leasing, state legislators have loudly referred to "private funding," while whispering the part about "big tolls." Farmer calculates that if the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel had been built and maintained by tolls alone, adjusting for inflation, drivers today would be forking over $10 every time they crossed.

Or, how about the proposed re-building of Route 460 along the south side of the James River between Petersburg and Suffolk? As once envisioned, passenger cars would pay $10-$12 each way, with trucks paying $30. And the state would still have to throw in another $50 million per year to finish the project.

What does Farmer predict, failing a big push on road funding by the state?

"Eventually we'll lose economic connectivity between the Peninsula and South Hampton Roads, and they will develop as two separate areas," he said.

Now, there are some in Williamsburg and even lower on the Peninsula who wouldn't mind that. But such fragmentation spells less and less political power, and less and less economic power.

That is not a formula for prosperity.

# # #

Be sure to read the comments, too, to gauge the range of public sentiment, at least the vocal ones, on topics such as this. Now, we need to find out how everyone feels, not just the vocal few.

Special note to commenter Reid: "flying cars"? sounds a little like the chaos of the movie "The Fifth Element", huh? :-)

Want to know more about "Visioning", leave your comment here with an email address and I'll share!

To share this post, here is a short URL:

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Are you a JoBro fan?

Ok, my hearing is finally back after what seemed to be a gazillion tweens all screaming at the same time. Where? At the recent Jonas Brothers concert at the Virginia Beach Verizon Wireless venue. It was our gift to Bertel for his 9th birthday. And, Jillian, at 11-1/2, reaped the benefits as well. She experienced her 1st concert sore throat!

Maybe I'm aging myself, but the screaming reminded me of film clips from The Beatles first concerts in the U.S. back in the 60s. I could barely hear the boys for all of the screaming and audience singing.

I was brought back to the present, though; it was amazing to see the proliferation of texting going back and forth in VB that night.

See the pics here:

Sharing Thoughts #12

When your work speaks for itself, don't interrupt.
Henry J. Kaiser

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Sharing Thoughts #11

If you tell the truth, you don't have to remember anything.
Mark Twain

Note: good advice!

Friday, August 22, 2008

LinkedIn: In the questionnaire tradition of James Lipton

I asked the following on LinkedIn (and I'll post the best answers here):

In the tradition of James Lipton and "Inside the Actor’s Studio",

  • In your lifetime, what was the first marketing campaign you can recall?

  • What influence(s) made you decide to pursue marketing as a profession?

  • What qualities make for a great marketer?

  • Pick your preference: Hard and fast ROI or experiment and see what works?

  • You are your own brand: What is the tagline for your brand campaign?

  • When you arrive at the pearly gates, what do you hope is pointed out as your greatest single marketing accomplishment?

  • What is your favorite keyword?

  • What profession, other than marketing, would you most like to pursue?

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Engage in '08

WHRO's Center for Regional Citizenship is supporting a local initiative to engage people **especially youth** in the political process.

Be There, Be Counted is the website. And, it's fantastic! Whether you call them Gen X, Gen Y, Millenials, whatever... they're our future and we need to involve them in the "process" now.

Be sure to check out the very cool "Select A Candidate" tool; simply answer some questions and find out which presidential candidate most fits your views.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Inspirations on Visions, Reputations and Getting My Own Way

Some quotes I love and that are very apropo with my current projects...

  • "If you can dream it, you can do it." - Walt Disney, US cartoonist & movie producer
  • "Always forgive your enemies - nothing annoys them so much." - Oscar Wilde, Erse dramatist and author
  • "Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known." - Carl Sagan, US astronomer and Pulitzer Prize Laureate
I may come from a "Chevrolet" family, but Henry Ford had his act together, hence these favorite quotes:
  • "Quality means doing it right when no one is looking."
  • "You can't build a reputation on what you are going to do."
  • "Don't find fault, find a remedy."
The presidents (and their wives) weigh in with some of my favorites:
  • "To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of preserving peace." - George Washington, first president of the USA
  • "And in the end it's not the years in your life that count. It is the life in your years." - Abraham Lincoln, 16th president of the USA
  • "Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people." - Eleanor Roosevelt, wife of president Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the USA
  • "It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it's a depression when you lose yours." - Harry S. Truman, 33rd president of the USA
  • "Mankind must put an end to war, or war will put an end to mankind." - John F. Kennedy, 35th president of the USA
And, since I have such eclectic tastes, I had to include these from French monarch, Napoleon:
  • "Imagination governs the world."
  • "If you want a thing done well, do it yourself."

And, last, but not least, from one of my personal heroes, Margaret Thatcher:
  • "I am extraordinarily patient, provided I get my own way in the end."

Saturday, August 16, 2008

What do Stephen King, Lost and Kevin Nealon have in common?

Enjoyed Kevin Nealon with friends at the Virginia Beach Funny Bone Comedy Club last night. Yes, Kevin Nealon of Saturday Night Live, movies and Showtime's Weeds. I just requested to be his friend on MySpace, keeping fingers crossed he accepts me! We seem to have so much in common (at least according to his MySpace page)...we both love Stephen King, Lost....

He was hilariously irreverent, and I'd recommend his show to anyone. Kevin has a very easy-going, laid-back manner about him. If I could remember jokes, I'd share one, but I'm terrible at that, but here is some of his routine:

He's been in comedy longer than I've been in business, and he's only five years older than me.

Friday, August 15, 2008

Real art doesn't get covered by styrofoam plates

You may remember my ire-filled rant at the FCC's rules bringing America to it's proverbial knees in fear, i.e. an anatomically-correct sock puppet was "blurred" on TV. I still scratch my head over how the FCC allows the TV show ER to show a breast that has been blown off by gunfire, i.e. no nipple, yet obligates a production studio to blur a sock puppet breast.

Well, imagine my abject horror to read this article in the Virginian-Pilot about offensive artwork being covered by styrofoam plates at Waterside's Mayer Fine Art. The photo shared by the V-P was sans decoration, so I had to see personally how the art-loving public would decorate the plate pasties. The gallery was closed so pardon the glare from the plate glass. The tasteful tassles are clearly visible as was the table of art supplies (to the left) provided by the gallery.

Thanks to gallery owner, Sheila Giolitti, for sharing the drawing by Erika Risko, Moore College of Art & Design in Philly. Both received bad press coverage over this incident which, ironically in America today, means GOOD press (ANY press is GOOD press).

While on one hand I think I can understand the reason for the covering (the gallery is next to the 2nd floor entrance of Jillian's), but I agree with one recent poster on the Urban Planet forum in a thread about the Virginia Arts Festival:

"We need more edge, more variety and a greater appreciation for what is going on in the rest of the world. Real art confronts--isn't always nice."

Read the comments after the V-P article. Thankfully, the overwhelming majority thinks this reaction was overkill and a bit ridiculous.

It's art. Maybe not your taste, but it's art.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

I'm inspired...are you?

Visit, view the talks that interest you, share the inspiration and spread the word.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Push Me - Pull You Marketing

Interactive Marketing – Blending Push and Pull Marketing

Pull marketing is like planting a seed (seed = interest in your company, brand, concept, etc.), nurturing it and watching it grow. Nurture happens when you interact with your audience to learn of their concerns and develop solutions to address those need(s). When your audience is ready to engage (buy, donate, etc.), then your marketing efforts puts you “top of mind”.

Blogs, social networks, online PR, online videos, interactive websites, white papers, speaking events, seminars and word-of-mouth are great examples of “pull” marketing.

Add a permission-based email newsletter sign-up (for example), and now you have converted that “pull” into a “push”.

To determine what and how to add “pull” to your current “push”, ask yourself:

1. Where do our stakeholders (customers, donors) need answers that we can provide?
2. What emerging trends can we address?
3. What problems can we identify to be ahead of the curve?

Better have a blend of both push and pull for ultimate success and true engagement of all stakeholders!

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Patriots and Whiners

A late night drive home on Rt. 13 through Virginia's Eastern Shore found me with earbuds jammed in tightly against the still of the dark and dreary night. I listened to one of my favorite podcasts to keep me alert.

It was a recent discussion on "Patriotism" (episode #724) by Clay Jenkinson as Thomas Jefferson, the host of The Thomas Jefferson Hour on WHRV, which caused my mental pause.

According to Clay's lifelong scholarly study, Jefferson supported dissent because he believed strongly that we, the people, should protect our rights to affect the direction of our country.

The First Amendment protects dissent. It is a self-check of the people by the people. While dissent oft times may be "over the top" and potentially includes obscenities, this exaggeration of our problems serves to force a look at our collective selves in the mirror. We may see something we don't like, but dissent allows us the candor to vocalize it and correct it.

Many quotes on patriotism were bandied about, but my favorite was this one from Mark Twain: "Patriotism is supporting your country all the time and your government when it deserves it."

With this definition, I can definitely count myself as a patriot and a firm believer in dissent (i.e. to disagree, to differ in opinion) as well. While I'm fairly middle-of-the-road, I do love to play "Devil's advocate".

Hence, I am expressing my "dissent". I heard WHRV's Hearsay on 8/7, and one of the guests was hawking his book. Dick Meyer is the editorial director of NPR's digital media unit and writes about politics, culture and media for Web and print. His new book is Why We Hate Us: American Discontent in the New Millennium.

I strongly, STRONGLY disagree with his comments on my avocation and vocation, which is communication and marketing. Meyer whined that social networks are a "symptom" of the "loneliness" we Americans feel, of people looking for connections online when these connections are best made face-to-face. He's skeptical of "evangelists" (like me!) for virtual communities and communications, claiming that we're naive if we think these networks are helpful.

If it were not for social networks, I would not have met many of the people I now count as personal, face-to-face friends in Hampton Roads and beyond, including the lovely Janel Keen of Vivid Expressions, who, until today, was only one of my Facebook "virtual" friends.

In my experience, social media and networks serve as a conduit to "real" networking, not an excuse for avoiding personal connections. SM allows you to meet, learn about, become friends and do business with people you otherwise would never have the opportunity to meet.

I did like this quote from Mr. Meyer's book (I'm actually loving this one!):
A tribute quoted him (columnist Lars-Erik Nelson) as once saying, "The enemy isn't liberalism. The enemy isn't conservatism. The enemy is bullshit."

Hear! Hear!

Norfolk makes Budget Travel magazine (family in Denver sent us this!)

Gotta love it! Thanks, Mark (Bert's brother), for sending this our way. Here is the article in its entirety; maybe our other family and friends will find it useful, too:

Of Time and Tides

There's more to Norfolk, Va., than the country's biggest naval base. Thomas Berger just needed a few years to realize it.

by Thomas Berger July/August 2008 issue

When I was growing up, Norfolk was not a popular place for tourists—it was a place where people just lived. And it was a kind of rough-around-the-edges seaport city. My friends Mike and Ilona, who still live in town, like to remind me that there was a monkey at the zoo who'd smoke cigarettes and flip kids the bird. That monkey was the real Norfolk.

Before a recent trip back to Norfolk (the stress is on the first syllable, pronounced nah; the pronunciation of the second syllable is unprintable in a magazine—well, most of them anyway), I hadn't been to my hometown in almost 15 years. After my parents moved away, there was little reason to return. But, in the past few years, I've noticed that scrappy Norfolk has turned into quite the destination.

Downtown Granby Street, which once wasn't very safe even during the day, is now lined with restaurants and trendy bars like Bodega, which has a tapas menu and "the best bartender on Granby," according to my friend Kevin. There's also a fancy new cruise port next to Nauticus, a combination ocean-science and naval-history museum. The kid in me liked strolling around the deck of the USS Wisconsin, a decommissioned World War II battleship staffed by retired Navy personnel.

But what made my recent visit most enjoyable was rediscovering the spots that have been around for years, such as the Donut Dinette. I went there the morning I arrived for a hearty breakfast of eggs, corned beef, and hash browns. (I had to stop back a couple of days later just for the doughnuts, which are not made on Mondays in the summer.)

The diner is down the street from an art-house theater, Naro Expanded Cinema, that used to be the place to go for $3 double features and midnight showings of Stop Making Sense. The theater still screens cult flicks, but it's now one movie for $8. After a matinee, you can get a cheeseburger at Dog-n-Burger Grille and sit outside in the picnic area.

For a caffeine fix, there's a cozy coffeehouse nearby that's run by Elliot Juren. A few years ago, he closed his popular restaurant, Elliot's, to take some time off. It wasn't long before he was looking for something else to do and noticed the stream of people heading for a certain national coffee chain across the street from his wife Gail's collectibles shop, Texture. So he opened Elliot's Fair Grounds, a café that has board games and free books. Downstairs at Texture, I was tempted to buy a clock made from a folding camera.

A couple of my favorite Norfolk sights are the Hermitage Museum and the Chrysler Museum of Art. On the banks of the Lafayette River, the Hermitage was once a private home built by William and Florence Sloane, who made their fortune in textile mills. There's a beautiful collection of Japanese snuff bottles, and kids will love checking out the hidden door and passageway. The Chrysler is another spot I know well because my mom was a docent there. The museum is in a sprawling Italianate mansion and known for its collection of glass, including works by René Lalique and a gorgeous group of Louis Comfort Tiffany lamps.

Norfolk has several historic homes downtown—many of which date from the late 1700s and early 1800s—that visitors can explore during the Historic Garden Week in the spring. If you want to spend the night in the area, I found a good B&B called the Freemason Inn. The breakfast was a three-course feast: fruit and yogurt, followed by poached eggs with salmon, and, to finish things off, a waffle topped with fruit and whipped cream.

That night, I joined Mike, Ilona, and another friend, Christine, for a Norfolk Tides game at Harbor Park. When I followed the Tidewater Tides, a farm team of the New York Mets, they played on a field by the airport. Now they have a new name, a nicer park, and they're affiliated with the Baltimore Orioles. The Tides won, but I didn't catch much of the game—that's the downside of going to the ballpark with people you haven't seen in decades.

I also met up with my friend Larry and his son Derek at Cogan's Pizza. When I first heard the name of the place, it didn't register, but then I realized that I'd been there when it was called Cogan's Instant Art Bar. A group of noted local beer experts (i.e., friends of Derek) claim that Cogan's has the best beer selection in town. There's also some interesting art on the walls, including a painting of a gorilla being attacked by aliens; the caption reads: FOR SPACEMAN STRENGTH AND ENDURANCE, EAT AT COGAN'S.

On my last day, I had lunch at Doumar's Cones and Barbecue, a diner with curbside service. (To signal to a waitress, pull up under the awning and turn on your lights.) The $2 sandwiches are excellent, but the main draw is the ice cream, served in waffle cones hand-rolled on the premises.

On a sugar high, I then did something touristy: I went on a narrated cruise past the naval base aboard the Victory Rover. I'd taken a regular bus tour of the base, but the cruise let me see a bit of the city, as well as Portsmouth just across the river.

My final stop had to be the Virginia Zoo, which has been spruced up since I was a kid. The African exhibits have raised walkways, so you're now at eye level with the giraffes. And the monkeys are behind glass, so they won't be getting any cigarettes. I didn't try to find out if they know any obscene gestures.

Freemason Inn, 411 W. York St., 866/388-1897,, from $145

Donut Dinette, 1917 Colley Ave., 757/625-0061, from $5
Dog-n-Burger Grille, 2001 Manteo St., 757/623-1667, cheeseburger $4
Elliot's Fair Grounds, 806 Baldwin Ave. #2, 757/640-2899,
Doumar's Cones and Barbecue, 1919 Monticello Ave., 757/627-4163,, from $2

Nauticus, 1 Waterside Dr., 800/664-1080,, $11
Naro Expanded Cinema, 1507 Colley Ave., 757/625-6276,
Hermitage Museum, 7637 North Shore Rd., 757/423-2052,, $5
Chrysler Museum of Art, 245 W. Olney Rd., 757/664-6200 ,, $7
Historic Garden Week, 757/451-1512,, from $25
Norfolk Tides, 150 Park Ave., 757/622-2222,, from $9.50
Victory Rover, 1 Waterside Dr., 757/627-7406,, $16.50
Virginia Zoo, 3500 Granby St., 757/441-2374,, $7

Texture, 806 Baldwin Ave., 757/626-0991

Bodega, 442 Granby St., 757/622-8527,, tapas from $5
Cogan's Pizza, 1901 Colonial Ave., 757/627-6428, pints from $2.50

Monday, August 11, 2008

Pyrotechnics and Baseball

...go together like Oreos and cold milk, warm apple pie and vanilla ice cream, popcorn and get the idea.

Here is my tribute to summer, fireworks, America's sport, John Fogerty's baseball anthem "Centerfield" and our kids, Bertel and Jillian (with supporting role played by their friend, Riley) thanks to the Syracuse Chiefs.

Ok, testing the difference(s) between Vimeo and YouTube:

Pyrotechnics and Baseball from Missy Blankenship on Vimeo.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Lessons learned in Economic development in South Hampton Roads

Inside Business publishes an interesting manifesto entitled “Commercial Real Estate Quarterly”. Their Mon 28 Jul 08 publication featured Q&A-style interviews about the last fiscal year with the directors of the Departments of Economic Development (DED) for Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake and Portsmouth.

My recap:

Warren Harris, Virginia Beach’s director, cites the beach’s focused work on targeted industries and diversifying the economy as major accomplishments. VB has targeted their marketing efforts by creating new marketing materials as well as continuing to address workforce development needs.

During FY 07/08, VB created 1,513 new jobs and $240.5M in new capital investment. VB’s DED has been re-accredited through the International Economic Development Council, distinguished as only one of 23 DEDs in North America with this designation: Accredited Economic Development Organization (AEDO). Additionally, Site Selection magazine named VB one of the 10 best ED groups in the U.S.

Rod Woolard, Norfolk’s director, focused on transit-oriented development as that office’s major accomplishment. However, the disappointing lack of long-term state transportation funding was cited as a negative. The hotel and conference center construction delay in Norfolk’s downtown has been a disappointment as well. On a positive note, Norfolk touts many of the same draws as the rest of the region: a large defense-related presence, the booming port, and outstanding quality of life with rich arts and culture offerings, and medical and educational resources.

Norfolk’s biggest challenge lies in the lack of land for new development with 98% already developed. The Norfolk DED’s efforts focus on redevelopment, reuse and pursuing public/private partnerships for funding sources. The availability of new space for offices, modern warehousing, etc. has been limiting, requiring more creative uses of resources. Project financing is a challenge now and in the near future.

Steven Lynch, ED director of Portsmouth, has the APM Terminal’s opening on my birthday (07 Sept) in 2007 as the most significant accomplishment, creating a world-class maritime center. Portsmouth also suffers from lack of land with 90+% already developed. Their work focuses on re-establishing existing properties into stronger revenue generators.

The availability of credit was cited as the most significant challenge going forward.

Chesapeake’s director, Steven Wright, cites the city’s redevelopment strategy in SoNo (South Norfolk, located in Chesapeake, not Norfolk) as that office’s significant accomplishment. Chesapeake gives glowing reviews to Hampton Roads Economic Development Alliance (HREDA), as nearly 50% of international firms in Hampton Roads are located there. The uncertain state of the nation’s economy is acknowledged as now making it difficult to identify high-impact, growth-mode firms to target.

Each director positively identified HREDA as the regional organization helping to make each city more competitive than working as individual entities, leveraging the region’s assets and sharing marketing expenses. HREDA is also distinguished as an AEDO.

Relocation of company headquarters to Hampton Roads, such as Zim Integrated Shipping Services, North American, emphasizes our region as a major gateway today and in the future for U.S. and world markets. The existence of substantial assets in Hampton Roads, such as the high-profile DoD presence, globally-recognized port, and significant higher learning institutions, serves as a strategic leverage against competition from other regions.

Of note are newer, emerging markets competing for new business locations in the southeast in addition to established markets such as Richmond, Charlotte and Atlanta.

Workforce development is of great significance due to Hampton Roads’ large “renewable employment base”, i.e. students graduating from higher learning and exiting military. The biggest challenges? Retaining, recruiting and training.

The biggest lesson learned from these interviews with the area’s DEDs? In order to compete globally, Hampton Roads must cooperate regionally. Look out world, here we come!

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Crisis Management, are you in front of it or behind it?

If you’re doing anything at all for a business or organization, nonprofit or for profit, you can expect to be involved in a crisis of some level at some point.

What constitutes effective Crisis Management?

First and foremost, in my opinion, it's doing the right things, not just saying the right things. An effective crisis communications plan must follow the organization’s crisis action plan, because a crisis is not just a public relations crisis. A PR challenge is a by-product of the business crisis.

Having a solid business plan in place is paramount. The crisis communications plan can be built from there. And, knowing what your stakeholders expect is key to all of this planning.

With today’s high-speed, non-stop global communication via the web, the challenge is to be at the front of any crisis, not behind it.

Friday, August 08, 2008

Public Works Project of the Year-Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center

My neighbor, the Half Moone Cruise and Celebration Center in Norfolk VA, located at One Waterside Drive on the Elizabeth River was recognized as 2008 Public Works Project of the Year ($10M-$100M category) by the American Public Works Association.

Half Moone is the first U.S. cruise terminal built since 9/11 and was designated as a prototype for future terminals by the Dept. of Homeland Security (DHS).

I took my first cruise from Half Moone and have enjoyed spectacular meetings and dinners in their spectacular glass atrium as well.

Thursday, August 07, 2008

High Gas Prices – real or artificial? good or bad?

First, the bad news...

Richest gas company in America? Exxon Mobil reported the biggest profit in U.S. corporate history for the 2nd quarter of 2008, $11.7 billion. Total sales: $138 billion (approx. gross domestic product of Hungary).

Cheapest gas in the world? Venezuela at 12¢/gallon

Costliest gas? Eritrea (Eastern Africa) at $9.58/gallon

The good news...

Here are some things you can like about high gas prices in the U.S. (looming at $4/gallon):

  1. The world seems a little bigger, doesn’t it? Travel isn’t as inexpensive or easy to accomplish. Maybe doing business in the U.S. is looking more attractive, too, with the newly risen cost of making and importing products overseas?

  2. The urban center is looking better and better, isn’t it? The suburban sprawl in the middle of the 20th century was a direct (and indirect) result of the Cold War. The theory held that if more of us lived farther from the center of “target” cities, we’d have a better chance of survival and dilute the efforts of our attackers. High gas prices could bring us all living (and working) closer together again and increasing the use of public transit.

  3. Four-day work week anyone? I say, yeah!!! Unforeseen benefits? From those who’ve tried it (Brevard Community College in FL), we find sick leave reduced by 50%, staff turnover dropped 44%. Perhaps workaholic Americans can actually focus their family priorities again.|

  4. Less fuel consumption = less pollution = longer lives/fewer health problems = slowing global warming?

  5. Everyone becomes more frugal. We have to waste less to save $$. SUV sales have dropped dramatically. Vespa scooter sales are on the rise.

  6. If you’re anywhere from the age of 5 to 34, you’re more likely to die in a traffic accident. Fewer cars on the road should reduce traffic deaths.

  7. If you’re now walking to work or using public transit, call your insurance company. Your car is now a “pleasure” vehicle, and this should reduce your rates.

  8. Fewer cars = less wear-and-tear on critical highway infrastructure = less traffic! ‘nuf said!

  9. Want to see better community relations with the police department? Require fuel savings and see the “cop on the beat” again whether walking, cycling or segway-ing, bringing the officers closer to the citizenry.

  10. Less driving = more walking/biking = less obesity!

So, the BENEFITS of higher gas prices are: a cleaner environment, a better economy, tighter, more family-oriented communities, better health, less stress and saving money in other areas. Sounds good to me.

Call me "pollyana" if you will, but infectious optimism isn't all bad.

Source: Time magazine, 14 Jul 08

Port Folio Weekly's Best ofs...

Port Folio Weekly is one of my favorite sources for culture and events in Hampton Roads. A recent series featured “Best of” solicitations from various public figures. These were some of my favorite responses:

“Best Radio Station for Talk. Cathy Lewis. She turns a listening area into a community” says Chris Hanna, Artistic Director for the Virginia Stage Company (VSC).

My note: If Cathy isn’t already using that tagline, she should consider it. What an enviable designation!

“Best Radio Station for Music. WHRV-FM. I love Out of the Box with Paul Shugrue. And the Friday Night Fish Fry. Really all the music they play is great,” according to Michael Khandelwal, Director of the Muse Writer’s Center.

“Best Radio Station for Music. WHRO and WHRV-FM. Particularly because of their diversity of programming and their commitment to local arts organizations,” adds Rob Cross, Director of Virginia Arts Festival and Principal Percussionist of the Virginia Symphony.

And, another vote goes to WHRO/WHRV for Best Radio Station for Music from Jeanne Bollendorf, Chrysler Museum of Art’s Historic Houses Manager who says “I don’t often listen to music on the radio, but love Out of the Box with Paul Shugrue. His program keeps me young and hip so I don’t embarrass myself.”

My note: yes, gotta love Paul! He keeps us all current and gives us a tapas of new music. Listen to Paul Mon-Thu 7-9pm, Sat 1-5pm on WHRV 89.5FM, and on-demand at

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Citizen evangelists are what Hampton Roads needs

Yes, I "lurk", aka participate, on forums. Forums about technology, marketing (my avocation and vocation) and others.

The one to join here in Hampton Roads: > Cities, Places, Regions > USA South > Virginia

Forums like this help gauge the real heartbeat of a community. Get the "man on the street" point of view (POV). When everyday citizens are positively engaged in a community, look out! That is a truly vibrant community or region.

Citizen evangelists are what Hampton Roads needs. WITH the resources and connections to the "powers-that-be" to put words/ideas into action.

Hampton Roads has several citizen-engagement groups already. And, some great public/private partnership organizations as well. They could all help with this vision of Hampton Roads in terms of: the minimal funds needed and manning the all-volunteer, grassroots, roll-up-the-shirtsleeves "work" as well as word-of-mouth, etc.

I've found several examples of citizen-groundswell success stories across the country, one of which is celebrating their 10th anniversary this year. I'm collecting video and print/web collateral now to showcase and share what could happen here in Hampton Roads.

Email me at if you want to step up and help, too! I know I do. If you know of others who may be interested, pass this on and have them contact me.

Stay tuned...

Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Predicting the next 5,000 days of the web

At the Dec07 EG Conference, Kevin Kelly explained that The World Wide Web, as we know it, is only 5,000 days old. In this TED talk, he predicts what's coming in the next 5,000 days (10+ years). Web 3.0, machines and human consciousness irrevocably linked? Food for thought...

Monday, August 04, 2008

Social Media Examined: A Flashy Facebook Page, at a Cost to Privacy

Important reprint/food for thought, article no longer available online...

By Kim Hart,Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, June 12, 2008

Facebook fanatics who have covered their profiles on the popular social networking site with silly games and quirky trivia quizzes may be unknowingly giving a host of strangers an intimate peek at their lives.

Those mini-programs, called widgets or applications, allow users to personalize their pages and connect with friends and acquaintances. But they could pose privacy risks. Some security researchers warn that developers of the software have assembled too much information -- home town, schools attended, employment history -- and can use the data in ways that could harm or annoy users.

"Everything requires you to give access to personal information or it forces you to ask your friends to do the same -- it becomes a real nuisance," said David Dixon, 40, an information technology consultant in Columbia who recently deleted most of the applications he had downloaded to his Facebook profile after reading on a blog that developers may have access to his information. "Why does a Sudoku puzzle have to know I have two kids? Why does a postcard need to know where I went to college?"

Even private profiles, in which personal details are available only to specific friends, reveal personal information, said Chris Soghoian, a cyber-security researcher at Indiana University. And they're allowing access to their friends' information -- even if their friends are not using the application. That's because MySpace and Facebook, the largest online social networks, let outside developers see a member's information when they add a program.

"You want to be social with your friends, but now you're giving 20 guys you've never met vast amounts of information from your profile," he said. "That should be troubling to people."

A year ago, Facebook started allowing outside developers to create small software programs for members to download. Since then, the company said, about 24,000 applications have been built by 400,000 developers. They've become enormously popular, with users playing poker, getting daily horoscopes and sending one another virtual cocktails, to name a few. More than 95 percent of Facebook users have installed at least one application, the company said.

Applications have grown so much that venture-capital firms have formed exclusively to fund their development, and there is a Stanford University course devoted to creating them.
In February, MySpace also opened up to developers. It has more than 1,000 applications. The company, along with other social networks such as Hi5 and AOL's Bebo, allows applications under OpenSocial, a Google-led initiative that lets developers distribute games and other programs across multiple social networks.

Each site has come up with its own policies on the data that developers are allowed to see. MySpace, the largest social network, with 110 million members, said developers can see users' public details -- name, profile picture and friend lists -- when they download a program. When a user installs one on Facebook, which has 70 million members, the developer can see everything in a profile except contact information, as well as friends' profiles. Members can limit what is seen by changing privacy controls, and both companies say developers are allowed to keep those data for only 24 hours.

Developers can collect other data from members once they've download the applications.
Ben Ling, director of Facebook's platform, said that developers are not allowed to share data with advertisers but that they can use it to tailor features to users. Facebook now removes applications that abuse user data by, for example, forcing members to invite all of their friends before they can use it.

"When we find out people have violated that policy, there is swift enforcement," he said.

But it is often difficult to tell when developers are breaking the rules by, for example, storing members' data for more than 24 hours, said Adrienne Felt, who recently studied Facebook security at the University of Virginia.

She examined 150 of the most popular Facebook applications to find out how much data could be gathered. Her research, which was presented at a privacy conference last month, found that about 90 percent of the applications have unnecessary access to private data.

"Once the information is on a third-party server, Facebook can't do anything about it," she said. Developers can use it to provide targeted ads based on a member's gender, age or relationship status.

Consumer advocates have voiced concerns over how software developers are using such data. The Center for Digital Democracy is urging the Federal Trade Commission to look into the privacy policies surrounding third-party applications.

Some developers acknowledge the value of the data at their fingertips but say they're careful not to abuse it.

"We don't care who their favorite musicians are, and we're not looking at their pictures," said Dan Goodman, co-founder of Loladex, an application that lets users find friend-recommended businesses, such as plumbers and pizzerias. Loladex does keep track of user-provided data, such as Zip codes.

Goodman said he hasn't ruled out using the data for targeted advertising, but "we're not trying to push the privacy envelope."

Hungry Machine, based in Georgetown, has created 25 Facebook applications, including programs that let users recommend movies, books and music.

"Leveraging that data would make a lot of sense," said Tim O'Shaughnessy, a co-founder of the company. But he said no plans are in the works.

Slide, which designed three of the most popular Facebook applications -- SuperPoke, FunWall and Top Friends -- said it uses personal details only to make applications more relevant to users. For example, Slide collects friends' birthdays so it can remind you to "poke" them on the right day.

Many Facebook users don't mind using the tools to express themselves. Gabby Jordan of Baltimore uses the Flirtable and Pimp Wars programs to connect with friends.

"If there are too many, you could easily delete them off your profile and not have to worry about it," she wrote in an e-mail.

But revealing information on quizzes or maps of places visited, for instance, may also make it easier for strangers to piece together tidbits to create larger security threats, said Alessandro Acquisti, assistant professor of public policy and information systems at Carnegie Mellon University.

Some online activities ask users to list pets' names or to display their high school's mascot, answers to common security questions asked by financial companies.

"Nowadays, some people have downloaded so many [applications], it's a constant flow of information about what they've done, what they're doing, which can be mined by your friends and also by someone you don't know anything about," he said.


Next, I'll address Social Media Examined: Youth and Their Online Profiles