How Social Media (probably) Got a Small Hotel into the NY Times

Posted on February 22, 2010. Filed under: Jazz, Newspapers, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

No other tune could accompany this post as well as Ella Fitzgerald’s rendition of There’s a Small Hotel from the album The Rodgers and Hart Songbook Volume 2. Check out the rarely-heard verse! Hit the play button below, or if you’re getting this by email, visit the blog to listen.

Today my RSS feed coughed up a New York Times article by Susan Dominus about the joys of www.foursquare.com. Read the article or go on the website to learn about Foursquare. That’s not the point of this post.

Susan Dominus met one of her sources for the article at the Roger Smith Hotel on Lexington Ave between 47th and 48th. From my experience, the choice of venue might be no coincidence. And it represents the power of social media.

First let me say that, in my opinion, the Roger Smith is one of the coolest unsung spots in NY City. Its president is talented Connecticut sculptor James Knowles. The property is maybe the last remaining property of his wife’s family’s hotel holdings. The couple has lovingly embraced the Roger Smith, renovated it and given it one of the most delightful personalities in all NY hotel-dom.

I first met Jim Knowles in the early 1990s through a client Joe Scott, founder of upscale Connecticut landscape design firm Glen Gate, who engaged Jim to create an award for his most creative designers. At the time, Jim hosted Monday evening starving artist dinners in the penthouse of the Roger Smith. They were unspeakably charming and so supportive of the New York arts community.

Over time, I’d stop in there to view the artwork on display and noticed that the hotel was succeeding in attracting international visitors. But I will go out on a limb and say that it has become uber-popular with home town folk since social media guru Chris Brogan has made it his official NY stopover.

Chris tweets about the Roger Smith to his almost 125,000 Twitter followers – including me — and frequently mentions the hotel in blog and newsletter posts. So when a New York Times reporter doing a story on the website Foursquare.com hooks up with interviewee “Damien Basile, a 29-year-old social media consultant, and several of his Foursquare-happy friends” at the Roger Smith, it stands to reason that this person likely learned about the place from a Chris Brogan post and might well be wanting to establish Foursquare mayor-dom and badges at Chris’ NY hotel of choice. (Again check out Foursquare or the Times article to interpret the aforegoing.)

Makes sense to me. But more important, and what I’d share with clients, is that recognition in the social media realm has real dollars and cents value. The fact that Chris has established authority and endorses the Roger Smith likely makes it a destination for social media types and probably led to the NY Times recognition. Chris…you’ve proved it before, and if I’m not all wet here, this proves it again.

Obviously, I’m connecting the dots, but if somehow Damien Basile sees this post, please let me know if I’m right or paddling in the wrong pond. Or if Chris Brogan learned about the Roger Smith from Damien or other NY social media folk I’ll reverse, of course. But it was one of those tasty moments that seemed more than coincidence. And Chris’ endorsement of the Roger Smith certainly can’t hurt – regardless of who learned about it from whom.

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dLife: A How-To For Information & Social Media Monetization

Posted on December 28, 2009. Filed under: Advertising, Inbound Marketing, Internet Traffic, Jazz, Newspapers, Public Relations Marketing, Social Media, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Today I was in the midst of my usual early morning multi-tasking, reading email, a few favorite blogs and the New York Times online, drinking coffee and eating breakfast while listening to local news and weather on the tube in the background.

 Eating in earshot of the TV has become a real crapshoot in terms of whether you’ll be able to finish without a pharma commercial ruining the meal with a nauseating list of potential side effects of some miracle drug. This morning I didn’t get lucky.

 As I got into a NY Times story that caught my attention, Adding Fees and Fences on Media Sites by Richard Perez-Pena and Tim Arango, a drug commercial came on, sending me running to preserve enjoyment of my yogurt and fruit. As I exiled myself from the room with the offending commercial, I couldn’t help but think for the umpteenth time that this couldn’t possibly be the result that pharma marketers are looking for.

 Particularly in light of the Times article, which focuses on how news media companies are trying to monetize their content, I thought – also for the umpteenth time – about the visionary ideas behind dLife – a multi-media effort focused on helping people living with diabetes to better manage their chronic condition. I had the good fortune to work on the launch of that venture back in 2004. And it can provide a road map for both media companies and advertisers trying to find new ways to succeed.

The genius behind the dLife concept is its founder, veteran marketer Howard Steinberg, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 10. Recognizing that successfully managing diabetes represents a lifestyle – a very different view of disease management – he created a multi-media diabetes network that would provide the diabetes community with a new approach to living well with a life-threatening chronic illness — while building a hugely targeted audience for pharmas and other providers of products and services for diabetes.

dLife has a web portal at its hub plus spokes that include the first lifestyle cable TV show about a chronic illness, a radio ‘tip’ segment and a newsletter. dLife.com is now one of the top diabetes/healthcare sites on the web. Its TV content is consistently award winning. You can follow the company on Twitter — @dLife. dLife members (sign-up is free) get unlimited access to its content, as well as product discounts and online purchase opportunities.

 Who pays for all of this? Advertisers do! Gladly! dLife delivers a large community that is almost 100% guaranteed to be interested in advertiser offerings. And, instead of buying expensive national advertising to reach a relatively small fraction of the US population, they can reach dLifers via much less expensive cable, online and radio advertising.

Media companies and advertisers can take a lesson from dLife. Maybe the New York Times, for example, should begin to break down its reader base into affinity groups and build segmented communities that are interested in certain areas of its coverage and would be interested in particular ad categories. The Times seems to be moving in that direction with its Weekender subscriptions and ad campaign that explores what sections people are ‘fluent in’ – read ‘interested in’. It could then offer targeted packages to advertisers – particularly multi-media offerings with built in cross marketing. Like 24/7/365 special advertising sections.

The technology exists online to provide personally segmented advertising. That’s how to get ads to where they’ll actually be appreciated – and effective. In fact, the process could be interactive. I know I would consider self-selecting for relevant ads to keep desirable news content coming – particularly if I could get irrelevant and disgusting pharma commercials out of my life!

I’d love to hear some of your creative ideas for new content/pay models for traditional media.

In honor of Howard Steinberg’s vision, today’s music is the tune Miles Ahead by the visionary jazz man Miles Davis with the Gil Evans Orchestra conducted by Quincy Jones, live at the 1991 Montreux Jazz Festival. Ironically, Davis is listed as a musician who lived with diabetes on the dLife website.

Enjoy! See you soon!

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Philly vs New York! Future of Newspapers — Part 2

Posted on October 20, 2009. Filed under: Jazz, Newspapers, Public Relations Marketing, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

No, I’m not offering wishful thinking about the World Series pairing  – although I’m partial to a back-to-back Series win for my hometown team. What I’m amazed to tell you is that my native Philadelphia Inquirer is up there with my adopted New York Times in the race for major dailies to figure out how to leverage print content – and monetize it – online.

In fact, this is shaping up as a week of focus on forward-thinking print media strategies. Yesterday’s post was about the new weekly paper concept of the Westchester Eye. Today I get an email from the Inquirer, subject line: Think Green – Get the eInquirer Online.

Aside from my first sarcastic thought that online would be the obvious place to get an e-paper, I was immediately curious as to how the eInquirer might differ from the online content currently available on Philly.com, the existing Inquirer/Daily News website. So I clicked.

Well here it is folks. For those who can’t bear to give up the look of the print paper — including me to a degree, the eInquirer delivers an identical on-screen facsimile — complete with ads. As my impatient mind raced forward I asked myself, “Looks good, nice try. But people don’t access content online the same way they do in print.”

Nonetheless, I decided to click on the free two-week no obligation trial. A demo popped up and it didn’t take long til I began to think, “Maybe they’re onto something here!” What you can do is flip through the ‘paper’ as though you were perusing the print version. But as you cursor over stories additional info, including story rank, pops up. If you wish, you can click on a story to opt for a couple of different online-friendly reading formats.

You can also clip, organize and save articles. From the tool bar you can access drop-down menus, email and share stories via social media networks, subscribe to condensed RSS feeds, view all photos in the paper in a gallery, access breaking news, go back to prior issues and archives and take advantage of a variety of search and other nifty options – including downloads and a mobile version.

The price? $2.25 per week delivered to your inbox. I checked to see how this compares to the print subscription price and was offered eight weeks for $48.64 — creative pricing 😉 – or $6.08 per week. In my estimation, I think that a tad more than a third of the cost of print for an online version that gives convenience, flexibility and far more functionality is an attractive deal. Plus you get to save some trees. But I’m interested to know what you all think.

The question I have is, will people gravitate to the $2.25-per-week replica – even with bells and whistles — when they can still go to the robust Philly.com and get news, commentary, entertainment calendars and more for free. I’ll let you know how I like my trial e-subscription and will get more info about how or whether the Inquirer plans to migrate to an all-paid model and ditch its free content.

The New York Times also offers an electronic edition for $9.99 per month for Monday through Friday delivery ($87.95 for a one-year sign-up) and $14.99 per month for seven days ($174.95 for a one-year sign-up). As far as recall the Times has never marketed this option to me, though I’m a subscriber.

Recently I reduced my seven-day print subscription to the Times’ ‘Weekender’ delivery option — Friday through Sunday. It runs about $26 per month vs $48, and the rest of the time I get my news online. That might explain why the electronic version is buried in a link low on the left-hand sidebar of NYTimes.com.  But if, as its copy says, “The future of the digital newspaper has arrived!,” maybe the Times ought to give it a bigger shout out and see what happens. As I think of throwing out the weekend papers I didn’t read because I was away, from here I’m going to sign up for my NYTimes seven-day free trial of a full week of the electronic version. 

Anyhow – Go Philly! Go Phils!! My hometown – which, as I’ve noted elsewhere on this blog sometimes has a bit of an inferiority complex vs NYC —  can be proud of its championship baseball team and of its paper as it innovates to survive in a digital world.

In honor of Philadelphia, you’re listening to native son Joey DeFrancesco on Hammond B-3 organ (an instrument that drives me wild!) as well as trumpet. He’s playing Naima, a rare gentle tune by legendary jazz tenor sax player John Coltrane, another Philly native. It’s from Joey’s album Reboppin’.

 Enjoy! See you soon!

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In a New York State of Web

Posted on October 13, 2009. Filed under: Public Relations Marketing, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |

Wow! Here’s the tune that started my life-long love affair with Mark Murphy – best male jazz singer alive today in my humble you know… Me in the kitchen of our 60’s split level in suburban Philly. The stereo hand-built by my father is in the rec room below –  visible over a wrought iron balcony.

All of a sudden, WDAS-FM Phila – the town that suffers from something of a NY City inferiority complex – plays a song that perks up my ears: Sunday in New York (the album, Bridging a Gap). Mark Murphy, a Rochester, New York native is on gravelly, hip vocals, Randy Brecker on trumpet, Mike Brecker on tenor sax, Pat Rebillot, piano & organ, Sam Brown, guitar, Ron Carter, bass, Jimmy Madison, drums & percussion.

 I’m obviously on a ‘firsts’ kick – being new to my blog. But as I listen now to the lyrics, there’s something there that speaks truth about the world of the Web…

 “You can spend time, without spendin’ a dime, watchin’ people watch people go past. (lada-lada-lada) Later you pause, and in one of the stores… there’s that face next to yours in the glass!”

So like the Web!!!! Remind you of Twitter? Lots for free. And lots of opportunities to connect with just what – or who — you need! That may not last forever as businesses try to monetize…

 But there’s another optimistic message in the song that we can all use these days:

“Take your troubles out for a walk, yeah! They’re gonna burst, they’re gonna burst like bubbles in the fun of a Sunday in New York.”

I know I’m feeling better now! I’m in the New York metro zone, having fun on the Web, and listening to Mark again. Oh, happy day!!

Relax – make like Sunday afternoon – and enjoy the rest of the tune! See you soon!

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