Big dreams, little details: The challenges of managing a business in the internet era

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californiaconstructionnews.com
The californiaconstructionnews.com site; the latest addition to the collection of sites that need to be updated each week.

It’s getting a bit crazy. My work now mandates maintaining and updating news content for 10 websites in Canada and the US. There are almost as many weekly eletters to prepare. This work continues as I retain management responsibility for the overall business with four full-time employees (including me) and two long-standing and engaged subcontractors.

See one of our sites, Californiaconstructionnews.com, here.

This is hardly the typical working environment for someone nearing 65. Yet it isn’t too hard and certainly, while I work reasonable hours, I don’t overstress myself and still have time for vacations and personal time and space. (The daily routine in summer months includes two hours each day riding on my bicycle to the gym, where I exercise for another hour.)

The reason I can get so much work done, so quickly, relates to a combination of circumstances and traits. I inherited from my mother incredible keyboarding skills — easily winning the typing competitions in high school typing class. (Hardly the behaviour of someone wanting to be cool.) Some years later, I learned how to write both fast and in great volume at a small daily newspaper in Medicine Hat, Alberta.

But the biggest saving grace (and the biggest cause of my workload) is the Internet.

With a few keystrokes and Google searches, I can gather stories and ideas for the different regional markets, supplemented by submitted news releases. If all we did was republish material from elsewhere and recycle news releases, there wouldn’t be much value to the exercise. So I look up additional details and data — and seek out the missing important facts that the news releases often omit (and I cut out the BS platitudes. It seems for example, every building is a “facility” and every condo project is a “luxury” structure.)

With experience I’ve learned how to use tools like WordPress and Google Drive; sourcing images that would not have copyright concerns, and then setting the stories for auto-feed through social media and into the eletter postings through software that makes it possible for a single article to be repurposed three or four times.

Hit “send” and I can monitor the traffic, reaction, correct typos that may have slipped through, and get ready for another publishing cycle.

Through this process, I’ve learned to set some rules.

  • If you phone me unsolicited with a news release or publicity announcement, I’ll either ignore the call or be cold (unless you want to pay for some advertising, when I’ll become really friendly and refer you to the right person);
  • I’ll generally not publicize negative news, unless it is well covered by or reported by public agencies and mainstream media and is important to the market/readers;
  • If you provide content in news release format, it helps to provide the basic details and curb the platitudes; and remember, the news release should have intrinsic merit and relevance to readers — “completions” are rarely interesting, while “wins” in moderation can be useful because there could be opportunities for others to bid on the work as subtrades; and
  • I’m not interested in submitted content and “free blog posts” even if you offer to pay (unless it is so much money you would be crazy to spend that amount of cash.)

You can reach me by email at buckshon@construcitonmaketingideas.com. If you want to phone, you can, but read the note above — number is (888) 627-8717 ext 224.

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