SWOT analysis

Well… so much for daily blogging. In any case things have been moving along and it’s so easy to fall into traps. One of the things I haven’t done with my latest project is a detailed and strategic business plan including a SWOT analysis. I’ve always been a big fan of SWOT – it’s basic, simple and clearly defines the scope of the business.

So many biz plans that I’ve seen focus on financials and research that bores the heck out of me. It’s hard to forecast sales for a business idea that has little to no history. A disruptive idea is blazing new trails. Some of the past can be included but for the most part creating new concepts and putting them into action requires a different set of skills and a different view of the world than just starting a business in an existing space.

What I like about SWOT is the process in thinking about the various items in the quadrant. The outcomes are easy to carry around in my head and can be used to make decisions on a daily basis. I like it alot and it when used in previous ventures it has proven to be reasonably accurate and powerful. So… with that in mind I need to sit down and create a SWOT and use that as the first step in formalizing my biz plan or something like it.


Local collector has a keen eye for WW2 military memorabilia

Collecting is a hobby for many people and can even be a passion for some. Here in Olds we have a collector of World War II military memorabilia which features items from both sides of the conflict. Andrew Kelly is passionate and knowledgeable about his collection and he took some time from reviewing his latest acquisitions to talk to us about his collection. Collecting memorabilia and artifacts takes a keen eye to see the difference between fakes and the real thing. Although he has many replicas in his collection such as this German army uniform, Andrew is always on the lookout for authentic pieces to add to his growing inventory.People in the area have been known to ask him for advice and an evaluation of items they have uncovered in attics and trunks. Andrew welcomes anyone who comes to him with memorabilia and usually has a story to tell about the item and its place in history.

Andrew has an exhibition called Kelly’s World War 2 Front coming up in March at the Olds College Frank Grisdale Hall where he will have many of his items on display.

Old habits die hard

So much for blogging every morning while I have coffee! It’s easier to just sit there and consume content via my iPad. But we will not give up…and we are at it again.

The good news is that the PC running our Olds Community TV feed is working. And it’s working without a failure for more than 100 hours. The bad news? Last Sunday the landlord was doing some renovations to the back office and they switched off a breaker which shut down the server. Although the PC is on a battery backup, the main power was off long enough to drain the battery and shut everything down. I spoke with him on Sunday while I was in the office rebooting everything and we worked out a deal. He’ll let me know when they plan to do something like this again.

Then there’s more bad news…the PC that server as our main video editing workstation had the power supply burn-out. It turns out that there is an air filter on the bottom of the case where the power-supply fan draws in air and it hadn’t been cleaned since…well forever! I didn’t know it was there and it was solid with dust and what ever. The local computer shop doesn’t carry that type of high-end part in stock but they could order it. Since we can’t afford the delay we went to Calgary to pick up the part. So far too busy to install the part . . . stories to work on you know . . . but later today I’ll install the part and perform a back up.

Still struggling with the best way to cover the town council meetings. Recording the entire event doesn’t make a lot of sense since we will never play it back (or maybe we will via the live stream at 3:00 in the morning [light-bulb comes on]) in its entirety. What it does do is provide us with leads to news stories. Such as the story on the future plans for the Olds Cemetery we were working on when the edit workstation shut down.  An interesting story that has elements that span time – from the past and into the future. Kind of like a time machine. Hmmm… just had an idea to deal with the town council content issue. Now back to work.

A new name for something that I’ve been doing for years

No, not that…but this…

Brand Journalism or Content Marketing . . .

Over the past few days I’ve heard the term ‘Brand Journalism’ at two different meetings. That’s good. For me at least. We’ve been practitioners of the fundamental tasks supporting Brand Journalism and Content Marketing for many years now. We haven’t called it that but that’s what we have been doing in some form or another. For one client back in 2008 it was almost pure play ‘brand journalism’.

Our client was an IT services and hardware company serving the B2B market. They operated out of three locations and though each office had their specialties to meet the local market needs they serviced businesses in the region. Their website was needing some attention and I was called in to assist in creating some content for the site. Instead of re-writing all the sales pitches on the site I took a different approach. Once a week I scoured the internet for news on tech products and the industry in general related to what my client offered to the market. Based on this research I would write articles which my client would use to help establish themselves as a thought leader in the industry and educate their clients with the latest in IT for business. The articles ranged from 250 to 500 words so they could be consumed quickly and even inserted into email newsletters. This was a weekly activity over a period of a few months. What was the outcome? Feedback from my client’s customers was positive. They appreciated being informed about the IT business without being bored over overwhelmed with geek-speek.

How does that fit into Olds Community TV? Certainly we fit into brand journalism in a broader definition of the term. Our objectives are to tell the stories of our community without bias or point of view. As much as we can. Am I a journalist? A little bit. But I see myself as more of a documentor or recorder of the events around me. The story tells itself or at least is told by the people in the video segment. I like to give them an opportunity to tell their own story and they usually do.

BTW: the pc has come back from the shop and blue-screened overnight. Back to the shop. Maybe I’ll run the channel off of my laptop? What ever it takes.

Share and share alike

Thanks to Doug Wagstaff from the Town of Olds who dropped me an email asking for permission to post a video on their website. Since Olds Community TV is all about the community and high-lighting what goes on in the community, I said yes and also thanked him for doing this. The video was an event we covered in Olds regarding the Uptowne Olds Area Redevelopment Plan which has been many years in the making. Here’s the video:

Not only does this get us little more exposure by broadening the reach of OCTV it also indicates that there is some value to the work we do from someone’s perspective which helps affirm what we are doing. Cool!

Time to head off to a meeting regarding another community project we are working on – soon to be announced and video released.

Got the itch to create content

Creating content is what I do. Starting up the Olds Community TV project requires me to do a few different things. Right now I’m still struggling with a cranky PC. Meetings related to OCTV and other business activities and non-profit committees get added into the mix as well. Creating content, whether it’s audio video or copy, is what I live for. It’s my crack and I’m addicted to it. I do have an event coming up this weekend and there is an audio show that needs post-production so it’s not that I don’t have content to satisfy my need. But other things are taking priority right now.

Had a good meeting this morning. Many minds are thinking alike… we just need to decide what to do next.

Entrepreneurs in Olds and area – video profile project

Now that some of the issues have settled down (23 hours without a server crash) I’m thinking about content. While reading through twitter feeds I came across an interesting story from a local business owner. A young entrepreneur who shared her story about the how, why and what of her business. It made for interesting reading and gave me an idea of profiling her (if she is interested) from the perspective of a young entrepreneur. What struck me about her situation was that she is going through the challenges all new businesses face but there was a mission behind her operation that involved more than just making money. That was the emotional hook that caught my attention. Then in thinking it through a little further it occurred to me that a small series of profiles featuring other young entrepreneurs in the area would be worth pursuing.

Why spend time on something that wouldn’t generate a direct revenue stream for OCTV? Well… we are at an early stage of our business and need to prove that we know what we are doing. We want to tell the stories about people in our community and that includes all facets – non-profits and business would fit well. By doing it pro bono we can develop some traction and let them promote our brand while using the video to promote their brand. Free samples work but we need to ensure that we don’t give away the entire inventory.

By featuring these young entrepreneurs in our community we plan to go beyond promoting their business and feed into the economic development in the region. Our goal would be to show that Olds has a thriving business environment that can offer opportunities to new and young entrepreneurs. I’m thinking of a few other businesses that I know of who would fit into our model for the series but will also reach out to some folks in the community who would know of others. For instance: the Executive Manager of OI, the Chamber of Commerce and Olds College.

Can hardly wait to get started on this but still need to do a few other things such as attend the local Town Council meeting. According to our survey, local politics is high on the interest list from our potential audience/

OCTV – the start of a journey and the journal

Olds Community TV (you can find the website here) is our latest project. After spending many years lamenting the loss of local TV, I’ve decided to do something about it.

January 1, 2014 was the official launch of the project but there is still a lot more to do to get it to go live. We’ve seen a lot and been through a lot in the past few years. This very well may be my jackpot or my death knell but here goes. There is a lot to do and I have to keep reminding myself that it’s one step at a time. I have a plan and need to refer to the plan from time to time to avoid getting overwhelmed. There is a draft business plan for Olds Community TV but I prefer to follow the Lean Start-up methodology which is essentially throwing it out there and building it as we go with the pivoting and modifications being the plan.

Everyday brings a challenge or two and we need to just plow through it all and get things done. A simple problem can seem big enough to stop the project in it’s tracks but the big picture is what matters. The issue I’m dealing with now is a PC tech problem. The PC that is hosting the playout software is giving me grief. Sometimes as much as three times a day it will ‘blue screen’ and reboot, throwing us off the air. Reliability is a key and important element and this doesn’t help. The solution? Fix the problem and move on…but the solution is eluding me and the tech support crew at this point in time. A more active solution and part of the bigger tech strategy is a back-up PC. Redundancy was always part of the plan but avoided due to costs. But here goes another unexpected expense to ensure that the channel functions 7/24/365. Not a big surprise for a startup but a pain in the butt never the less.

The other issue I’m faced with is also technical but not a show stopper. The playlist/playout feature in the software we are using is in beta release and dosen’t loop properly. Not a big issue now, there is a work-around, but it could impact work-flow in the future in regards to adding and deleting video into the stream dynamically. The software developer is working on it and we will no doubt see a solution before too long. In the meantime  – PlanB is in effect.

Let’s go 2014

What good is a personal log if you don’t use it? In looking back through the posts on this blog I can see that it has one through a few iterations in content topics. We here goes another new topic: starting up a new project in Olds – a community TV station.

January 1, 2014 is the official stat date of the station and through this blog I plan to keep track of the progress of the start-up.  My morning coffee time is usually spent trying to wake up, consuming local news TV, reading news on my iPad and drinking lots of coffee. From here on in I’ll add or substitute blog writing into my morning routine. There will be some rants but mostly it will be a journal of the activities and thoughts as the project progresses.

So… in keeping with the new topic theme: While writing this I’m watching Global TV News out of Calgary. Olds Community TV has no interest in duplicating what already has been done. We are after a new look and format. Watching the mainstream news I see a few things that strike me as identifying elements (good or bad). Essentially the mainstream news at this level curates the stories with the hosts being the link between the segments. What strikes me odd is that the segments are local, regional, national and international.  Not bad and certainly not the political influenced news that we get to see on other channels such as CNN or SUN. Not what we want to do but it’s okay. On second thought maybe not okay. There is a lot of news going on every minute of everyday and this type of reporting is just too narrow for me. Time for more coffee.

Alberta PC leadership candidate releases an iPhone App as part of their social media initiative

(The following article in no way endorses or encourages support for the political characters mentioned. As a matter of fact, anyone who knows me also knows my thoughts and opinions about our elected officials – they work for us and we need to keep reminding them of that.)

Politicians are always anxious to connect with the public. Either to garner votes, gather up campaign workers or grab some cash to cover their campaign expenses. Barrack Obama proved the value of social media in his bid to be the presidential candidate for the Democratic Party and then for his run for the top spot as President of the United States. Pressing the flesh by shaking hands and kissing babies at parking lot rallies still has value in getting the word out but social media allows politicians to connect with grass-roots community supporters. In today’s environment a political candidate ignoring the reach of social media is similar to when Nixon didn’t grasp the value of television and took a beating from Kennedy during the famous presidential debate broadcast on national TV networks in 1960.

The latest to jump into the social media pool is Gary Mar, a long-time politician from Alberta. Mar is running for the leadership spot of the Alberta PC party. Mar has been the first of the leadership candidates to step up to the social media plate swinging an iPad App. He isn’t the first politician in Alberta to use an iPhone App in a campaign though.  Naheed Nenshi attracted a lot of press coverage for his use of social media which included an iPhone App in the campaign for his current job as Mayor of Calgary Alberta.

The Gary Mar iPhone App works on an iPad but since it is designed for the smaller size of the Apple mobile phone it doesn’t use up the full screen on the tablet. The app integrates Mar’s various other social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook along with access to his YouTube channel. Simple, clean and to the point, the app is well designed and works. A BlackBerry version of his app is also available. What stands out is the strong branding elements of the Gary Mar leadership campaign.

In case you haven’t picked up on this, politicians aren’t just people. They are products that need a strong brand presence and promotion just like cars, breakfast cereal or other goods.  Selling a politician to the public requires a marketing campaign every bit as focused and aggressive as any other product’s public messaging. Making use of social media and leveraging the reach of the online community makes sense for business so why not politicians.