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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Double Payments, Publicity, and other ideas -- The North Carolina visit

My last of four flights yesterday landed in Ottawa about midnight. I'm happy I went. There is some irony in that the meeting about the Double Payments issue occurred in the RBC Center, home of last year's Stanley Cup winners, the Carolina Hurricanes. Now, Raleigh, NC is not a place one traditionally associates with championship hockey. But there we were, discussing Double Payments in the North Carolina construction industry, in a meeting room on the top floor of the hockey arena. (In part to make up for my absence yesterday, I'll be at another arena, the Scotiabank Place in Ottawa, with Eric, watching the Senators take on Florida Panthers.) Editor's note -- the Sens won 4-0.

I thought the CAGC did okay in explaining the Double Payments issue to the attendees, but CAGC lobbyist Dave Simpson, after the meeting, told me he doesn't see much change in attitudes and the association is going to proceed cautiously. It doesn't want to introduce legislation until there is a consensus. I need to research and read through more documentation here but the message Simpson gave me is the story hasn't changed that much from when we wrote about it last. He suggests that general contractors will move and owners will move to other measures including construction management and tighter credit controls on their own part, to overcome the problem.

Bob Kruhm also co-ordinated meetings with some current and potential clients. As is always my approach, I don't look at the relationships here as a way to 'sell advertising' but instead on focusing on their marketing realities and needs. We are working on a public/media relations idea for one business that, if it goes as I expect it will, will result in prominent coverage in the News-Observer and local television. Obviously, it is best not to disclose right now the exact details of what we have in mind but it generally works within the media relations ideas outlined earlier in this blog.

On the flight home, I had an inspiration that needs to be checked out further. In many cases, I advocate to our clients that they should look more closely at how to manage their media relations so they can obtain news-section (or broadcast) publicity, rather than just purchase ads. I would like to give all our current and potential clients the kind of service I will be giving the new North Carolina client, but know I don't have the time for that.

Then I realized that the Ottawa Chapter of Construction Specifications Canada works with students in the local community college's public relations program to put on its annual Connections Cafe. Maybe I can make similar arrangements. We would pay the students a stipend for their work with our clients who requested the extra service -- and I would monitor and review the work of the student. This would provide valuable client service and training at the same time. Later on, when our business resources allow, we would put a PR specialist on staff to co-ordinate the program and provide the kind of extra service that clients rarely expect from a trade journal publisher. Aha, for the ideas and creativity generated during long hours on airplanes.

Today, I must catch up on work in Ottawa, review assignments for the next issue, evaluate a potential new sales representative, and prepare for my next trip, to Edmonton and Ft. McMurray Alberta, commencing this Sunday. And, yes, exercise and prepare for a hockey game tonight.

It is going to be a busy day. Lots of fun, I believe.

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