Numbers Do Matter: How Metrics are Changing the Reporting Game

Metrics in Journalism - New MediaThe New York Times recently published a story titled, “Risks Abound as Reporters Play in Traffic,” which looks at the growing effect metrics have on journalism and reporting. As the realities of the new media landscape settle in, metrics are now part of the news agenda, and news organizations are adapting by shifting their compensation and even editorial policies. More and more news outlets are now adopting “pay per click” compensation models based upon the number of stories produced. Some key takeaways from the article:

  • Not Just Digital Upstarts Manage Reporters by the Numbers: While the article cites such digital outlets as The Daily Caller and TheStreet.com as examples of news organizations that are moving toward “pay per click” compensation, it also states that many traditional news outlets are also moving in this direction. The Oregonian, the heralded home of many Pulitzer Prize-winning projects, is in the midst of reorganization based on a company-wide initiative to drive more web traffic, increase page views and increase the number of daily posts. New policies require reporters to post new articles three times a day and to post the first comment under any significant article.
  • Metrics Will Have Significant Effect on News Itself: Now that everything can be measured, reporters have to keep an eye on both the quality of stories they write and the number of clicks their stories generate, a juxtaposition of two factors that often pull writers in opposite directions. Reporters have to find the fine balance between traditional reporting of informative stories and today’s buzzy “listicles” and quizzes that often yield a high number of clicks and audience engagement but “on an informational level… are mostly empty calories.”
  • “Journalism’s Status as a Profession is Up for Grabs”:  A viral story is no longer based on the credentials of the individual or organization writing the article. In today’s media ecosystem, readers decide what is important and worthy of sharing with their networks, and often times viral content is generated by the audience and not the reporter. There are a growing number of media outlets that are launching new platforms where anybody can publish a blog post, with monetary incentives for those who produce content that drive web traffic.

So what does this all mean for us place marketers?

1. We can no longer ignore the power of digital media. While the “traditional” print media will always have its place in the world of economic development marketing, the exponential growth in the digital space and the growing impact it has on reporters, their bosses and readership have evolved the role of digital media coverage from “good to have” to “must have.”

2. When pitching reporters our locations and story ideas, we need to be sensitive to the changes in their industry and how these changes alter their story needs. While our focus should be on informative story angles, to compete in today’s media environment we also need to find ways to pitch our communities with a potential viral twist in mind. Take for instance how Chattanooga faced off against Iron Man and won.

3. As many news organizations are placing quotas on the number of articles journalists need to produce during a period of time, there is more “editorial space” to fill, which means there is a growing pool of editorial opportunities and digital platforms to cover our locations.

What are your thoughts on the effects of metrics-based compensation for reporters?

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CFO Journal Predicts a Rise in 2014 Capital Spending

Capital spending in 2014Here’s some decidedly good news for economic developers.

According to CFO Journal, an online section of The Wall Street Journal, companies are now starting to loosen the purse strings and invest in new factories and equipment.

Two factors are driving the change: 1) a strengthened U.S. economy, 2) pressure from long-term investors for companies to invest in their own growth. On the latter point, here’s a quote from Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, Inc., one of the world’s largest money managers, in an open letter to C-suite executives:

“Too many companies have cut capital expenditure and even increased debt to boost dividends and increase share buy-backs. When done for the wrong reasons and at the expense of capital investment, it can jeopardize a company’s ability to generate sustainable long-term returns.” 

Click here for a link to the article. And if you have trouble navigating through the WSJ’s paywall, just shoot me a quick email and we’ll email you a copy of the article.

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Inc. Magazine Addresses America’s Skills Gap

Skills GapLeading small business magazine, Inc., examines in depth the oft-discussed topic of America’s skills gap in this month’s issue. Titled, “Where Have All the Workers Gone?” writer Cait Murphy argues that the gap is actually more myth than reality, citing several notable sources along the way.

“The only evidence of the skills gap,” says Peter Cappelli, an economist at the Wharton School’s Center for human Resources, “is employers saying ‘I’ve got a problem.’”

The story acknowledges that some specialty industries and geographies do have a particular shortage, but as far as the national picture goes, talent and skills are indeed plentiful. Instead, companies need to be more proactive: “Start training programs, pay competitive wages, and work with governments and community colleges. Maybe even be a little less picky,” Murphy writes.

Read it here, or if you’d like a copy as it appeared in the magazine, just email me and I’ll be happy to send you one.

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Negotiating and Showcasing Incentives: 4 Tips from the Site Selectors Guild

In the past two years, corporate incentives have been a hot topic of discussion for both the media and corporate executives. Regardless of whether incentives are perceived as “good” or “bad,” panelists at the Site Selectors Guild Conference believe incentives are both necessary and extremely important components of convincing a company to select your location.

Experts on incentives and negotiations who spoke at this year’s Site Selectors Guild Conference included Angelos Angelou, AngelouEconomics; Tracey Hyatt Bosman, Biggins Lacy Shapiro & Company; Mark Sweeney, McCallum Sweeney Consulting; and Mark Williams, Strategic Development Group, Inc.

Negotiating and showcasing incentives in economic development

Tracey Hyatt Bosman and Angelos Angelou. Photo courtesy of Site Selectors Guild and InSync Photography + Design

While incentives are just one component of the overall site selection process, here are several “best practices” for economic developers to keep in mind when showcasing and/or negotiating incentives:

  1. Timing is Everything: Timing is critical especially when it pertains to the start date of benefits, frequency of payments and the net present value. Also remember that wage requirements can greatly impact an incentive program’s value.
  2. The Devil is in the Details: When it comes to incentives negotiations, always pay close attention to the fine print on claw-back provisions, understand conditions and payment schedule of tax credit refunds, keep records of incentives commitments and make sure to develop innovative incentives that target project specific needs.
  3. Beware of the Bottom Line: Economic developers must be aware of the client’s internal targets, e.g. “this move needs to save us X amount of money.” Also highlighted was the importance of demonstrating a unified front between state and local governments whenever possible. Side note: it’s a big plus to get approval without the name of the company being disclosed.
  4. Incentives Can Get You in the Game: Incentives are great marketing tools because they set the tone of your community’s or state’s business friendliness, which in turn can increase the number of calls and “get you in the game.” One example shared by the panelists is that of New Jersey, which has received a lot of attention recently about the state’s incentives overhaul. It’s likely that New Jersey will make that initial list more frequently as a result of this positive publicity.

So despite the perceived controversy surrounding incentives, they do ultimately play a strategic role in site selection decision, especially toward the end of the process when incentives could be the deciding factor on whether or not a company decides to commit.

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BuzzLead: April’s Potential Prospects For Your Lead Generation Program

Here at DCI, our lead generation team is always scrolling the daily, weekly and monthly news outlets to find companies indicating a potential site selection need in the coming years. Among the key factors that tip us off are mergers and acquisitions, new product offerings, and a change in C-level leadership. Starting this month, we’ll […]

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This Just In: The Wall Street Journal on the Battle for Tesla’s $5 Billion Battery Plant

“Make no little plans.” That seems to be the mantra of Tesla CEO Elon Musk. His decision to build a $5 billion battery plant employing a projected 6,500 workers has created quite a buzz among economic developers. Four Southwestern states – Texas, Arizona, Nevada and New Mexico – are in the hunt for the granddaddy […]

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Truce or Dare? Border Wars & Economic Development

The Economist  profiles a good old-fashioned showdown that has taken place over the years between two arch rivals, Kansas and Missouri. Titled, “The New Border War,” the article encapsulates a series of economic development “victories” for each side that have, in the end, rendered each state’s net jobs gain negligible and the lives of those […]

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Spring is Here (and So is a New Reading List for Savvy Economic Developers)

Spring is a great time to head outside and catch up on your professional reading. In the past, I’ve written two blog posts on books that should be on every economic developer’s reading list, and luckily, those posts, as well as a LinkedIn discussion on the subject, have spurred terrific suggestions from readers. My colleague, […]

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Rural Belknap County, New Hampshire, Taps Young Professionals to Help Bring Talented Grads Back Home

Located just two hours north of Boston, Belknap County is part of the Lakes Region in the center of New Hampshire, a small, rural area home to about 100,000 people and known almost exclusively for its tourism and hospitality industries. The median age of residents in the region is 44, and research completed in 2009 […]

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Jordan Robinson Promoted to Account Director

Jordan Robinson has been promoted to Account Director in the Economic Development Division of Development Counsellors International. Jordan started at DCI as an intern in 2007 and has risen quickly through the ranks as she has consistently delivered exceptional client service. Jordan’s current clients include the U.S. Virgin Islands, Charleston, SC, Brownsville, TX and the […]

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