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the road ahead
A recently retired U.S. armed forces General was
quoted on a national news show as saying he joined one of
the online social media networks because he wanted to keep
up with the younger generation and very quickly he had 4200 new
“friends.” Other than vaporizing the meaning of “friends”,
what was learned?
In his book The Tipping Point, Malcolm Gladwell,
cites many examples of some average limits on humans when it
comes to: easily remembering telephone numbers (seven
digits), optimizing teamwork (150 persons per team),
distinguishing tastes, touches or sounds (six), and
maintaining close friendships (15). Gladwell also posits the
phenomenon of immunity in mass communications – at some
point the more pervasive a network becomes the more likely
it is to engender immunity to it. In what might be called
Gladwell’s Law of Inverse Effects, he says: “As a
network grows in size, . . . it is also the case that the
time and nuisance costs borne by each member of the network
grows as well.”
In the case of telephone marketing, immunity responses to
those costs include do not call lists, answering machines,
caller I.D. and just hanging up! They have helped decrease
the effectiveness of telemarketing by 50 percent over the
last 25 years or so, according to Gladwell. And now it
may be immunities to social media’s are incubating.
While it is a mix of functional and financial factors,
each of the big social networks is having troubles. Writing for the Silicon Valley Insider,
Benjamin Wayne says, "YouTube is soaring towards
the future like a pigeon towards a plate glass window.” He
projects a half-billion dollar loss for the video-sharing
network in 2009.
Maria Russo asks in The Wrap,
“With no buzz factor, low scores for 'user trust' in online
surveys and a reputation as a hangout for disaffected
teenagers, is MySpace still viable as a broad-based,
come-one-come-all social network?” Om Malik answers in
GigaCom, “Like an 80’s rock band MySpace’s time has come and
gone.” Forbes writer Taylor Buley cites
Facebook insiders as
putting that network’s “burn rate” at $200 million a year.
Meanwhile Twitter, coming off one of, if not the best,
PR/Marketing campaigns of the year with the Ashton Kutcher,
Oprah Winfrey ploys, is growing approximately 33 percent per
month, according to ComScore.
Some columnists suggest that
this short-form social networking may itself be an
immunizing response to the personal costs of participating
in the full-blown versions. Keeping it short and most often,
too simple. For those who despair, there is consolation in
a Media Publications report that checking the weather is the
most popular app on smart phones.
And there's this thought by Corey Treffiletti writing in
Online Spin: “Just about
everyone agrees that the next stage of the Web is a
transition towards a customizable, distributed Web that no
longer relies on mass audience destinations as much as it
will rely on technology to tailor the remote experience to
the individual user. But is it possible that this next stage
will also transition from a two-dimensional experience of
flat Web pages to a three-dimensional experience more akin
to virtual worlds?”
Comments? Please go to:
As many another practicing journalist faced with fewer
places to practice,
Chicago freelancer Jim Gorzelany (firstname.lastname@example.org) created
his own: The Automotive Intelligentsia 2009-20010 Sports Car
Guide, the first-ever new-car reference
especially for the Amazon Kindle eBook Reader and the
Apple iPhone/iPod Touch with free Kindle Reader soft-ware. Gorzelany says,” Those fortunate enough to be in the market
for a new sports car will find the Automotive Intelligentsia
2009-2010 Sports Car Guide to be an invaluable asset, while
even those just “kicking the tires” will be engaged and
entertained by this world class collection of rolling works
of art.” From rough and tumble muscle cars to the world’s
most elegant and exotic sports car, the Guide spotlights 54
of the most coveted rides on the rode, all for the
discounted price of $5.99 at
Gorzelany plans similar Kindle
guides to car groups (economy, family, vans, etc.) and the
first ebook new-car pricing guide. . . . Vince Bodiford
proudly announces his all-new site for The Weekend Drive is
now active, including a full video channel at TV.com:
http://www.theweekenddrive.com He is now busy loading
archived content that goes back to the 1998 model year.
Media Post Publications reports Atlanta-based online auto
seller www.Autotrader.com has launched a new Hispanic division.
It will include a Spanish-language web site and a bilingual
print publication, Auto Trader Latino, distributed free
in 15 of the nation’s largest markets for Hispanic-American
car buyers. . . .Theresa Cramer reports for Information Today, “
officially debuted on April 8-aims to sort through the
information overload, digest stories from across the
spectrum, and then feed it all back to you in short,
A team of editors monitors news from online, print, and
televised sources from around the globe. They then put
together 2-3-minute video clips summing up the different
kinds of coverage a particular topic is getting in the
media.” Cramer notes the new outlet is assembling and not
creating and that one critic asks what will it do if there
aren’t people on the ground providing source materials?
Autowriters.Com invites readers to submit their own Clog
(Online Column). Your reward: a byline and an audience of
your peers. All submissions are acknowledged, queued
and used at the editor’s discretion.
Never without an opinion or words to express them, Steve
Parker riffs on last month’s Tom-Tom and other topics.
Parker created, writes for and moderates the only
automotive-related blog on The Huffington Post website. He
maintains his own site (www.SteveParker.com) and blog, pens
a weekly print column and hosts a daily NASCAR news update
radio show, American Racing Today, that is heard nationally.
I got a kick out of “Truck Writer” Tom Kelley when he wrote:
“To be certain, the print-on-paper channel of communications
will never go completely away, just as radio didn’t kill
newspapers, and television didn’t kill radio. Every method
of delivery has its pros and cons, and as new methods become
widely used, the other methods become further refined,
surviving by doing what they alone can do best.”
Well, ol’ Tom misses the boat, as so many others have and
continue to do.
The Internet is not simply replacing specific newspapers,
magazines, movies, radio or TV --- it’s replacing them ALL.
Every media in every market is migrating to the Web. There
was a big piece in the pro-radio industry website
www.AllAccess.com this week about Internet radio (what I call
WebRadio) listenership BOOMING as traditional radio numbers
continue to drop (satellite radio is dead, so it doesn’t
even count anymore) and TV in all its forms digs itself into
an ever-deeper hole. I can watch “60 Minutes” on
website, for example, whenever I want, without commercials,
and get lots of video which didn’t make it onto the show.
www.Hulu.com from NBC/Universal has become a huge Website in
under a year, a neat, clean and easy-to-use place where
visitors get free access to THOUSANDS of TV shows and
And feature films now show-up on the Web before they’re
available in their DVD or traditional theater forms. There
was a big story about a new film due in theaters last week
which hit the Web first, and the FBI got heavily and very
publicly involved in finding out who the culprits were … How
long until the FBI says, “Forget it – we’ve got other jobs
to do!” and deals are worked out between Websites and the
film (and TV) studios similar to iTunes and other
pay-to-play sites? I’d say this year …
I’m going to be writing a bit on “getting back to basics”
when it comes to the auto business in all its forms, motor
racing – and what we’ve quaintly referred to as “automotive
journalism.” That auto journo business has not served the
public well, especially in the US, and in fact has harmed
the public, and with car-maker and aftermarket ad budgets a
fraction of what they were only a year ago, and not coming
back anytime soon, if ever, that next sound you hear will be
the “enthusiast books” shutting their doors forever.
Especially if, like most newspapers, they don’t have sales
teams crafty enough or interested enough in the ways of the
Web to make a go of it online (I happen to think lazy,
unimaginative sales leadership is the #1 problem of print
publications and broadcast outlets – and after 35 years in
all those businesses, I know whereof I speak … Any
salesperson would rather sign the Dodgers to a one-year
contract, take the client to dinner and a show twice a year
and never have to think about the client again … until it’s
time to sign next year’s contract – But to actually “think”
and come up with new ideas? Fuggedaboutit!).
Good line about
Iacocca saying a mag cover was worth $1
million. I can remember (and so can you) when any of the Big
Three would fly a car out to LAX for a last-minute magazine
shoot, stay on the ground two hours, put the car back in the
plane and fly it home to Detroit, all in the space of one
day’s work … And all we had to do was ask!
Man, are those days over!
Tom Kelley responds:
Great counterpoint from somebody inside
the web. Short version is that
Steve thinks the shift to the web is further along than I
Capability-wise, the web is definitely in the lead,
the consumer is quickly catching up. As for the long-term
traditional newspapers/television/radio, let's just say I'm
any stock in those industries.
Regardless of where we are on the time line of our move to
the web, the
main thrusts of the article about the evolving structure of
flow and the journalist's need to be multimedia savvy, are
emphasized by Steve's viewpoint.
Steve's article does provide some great insight to the sales
side of the
However, on most days I'll have to disagree with Steve about
part of "ol' Tom." I think he might have a few more miles on
Comments? Please go to: http://autowriters.com/blog/the-tom-tom-steve-parker/
Tom-Tom rants, raves, rambles and ruminations are
and express the opinions of the writer.
Rex Roy was born into auto writing. At age 14 he was a product information
specialist in the world’s 27th largest ad agency. In high school he sold “spy”
photos to the buff books and could re-build cars. That his father had founded
and built Ross Roy Advertising gained him entrée but memorizing car facts as
easily as “other kids memorized baseball stats” earned him the respect of
copywriters who relied on him for copy points and art directors who came to him
to verify their product depictions were correct.
He was raised during Motor City high times when auto talk was the only talk on
the city’s golf-courses, in its bars, over its dinner tables and at its backyard
barbeques and cocktail parties - as well as its board rooms and assembly lines.
The “auto biz” was the secular religion. For Roy, it was systemic and he felt a
career in auto advertising was his birthright.
Yet, as have thousands of Detroit families who fully expected their children
would follow them into the shops, studios, cubicles or executives suites of the
Big Three or those of its vendors and suppliers, he found that things change.
Drastically. For him, the first of two reality jolts came much earlier than the
seismic one hitting Motown now. The death of his father and sale of the agency
shortly before he graduated the U. of M. totally altered his expectations. The
new owners “no family” policy barred him from Ross Roy which itself, within a
decade was no longer a proud Detroit-owned agency, having been consumed and
regurgitated by a communications conglomerate.
But back then, it was still “three martini lunch time” in Detroit and he quickly
found demand for his automotive know-how, working for a number of firms before
starting his own to provide catalogs, sales training materials and any type of
copy utilizing his industry know-how and wordsmith abilities. That lasted until
one of his clients dangled money and status for him to work exclusively for them
as a Sr. VP, Group Creative Director, forming a new division and hiring folks to
work for him. Then things changed again. New management he chose not to get
along with arrived a few years later. He had divided his old company’s business
among its employees when he left so he had to reinvent himself.
This time, Detroit’s automotive predominance was on the slide and it was more
like sack lunches at the desk. He was faced with the same challenge that he
believes confronts Detroit’s work force now, the need to rely on entrepreneurial
energies and imagination to survive and achieve. He does not think it will be
easy on the massive scale required. Switching to full time freelance auto
journalism was not easy for him. Fortunately, he had run into journalists like
veteran Don Sherman who mentored his transition and auto editors who liked his
writing and auto smarts. Among those he credits for helping him get started are
Rich Homan, a former editor at Road & Track and Reilly
Brennan, now at AOL Autos.
He lives in a smaller home and drives an older car now and hustles each day to
sell and write stories to pay the mortgage. At least 10 outlets use his work
regularly. Since the first of the year he has placed 100 pieces and while he
enjoys the independence and relying on his wit, he still starts each day
scratching for story ideas and deciding to whom and where to best pitch them.
Comments? Please go to:
MarketWatch reports Source Interlink, Inc. is entering a lender-approved
pre-packaged Chapter 11 bankruptcy, under which it hopes to re-emerge within 35
days. The action by the major publisher of U.S. automotive titles is planned to
re-structure its debt load. . . . Wooden Horse says Print loyalists are taking
heart from the failure of Time, Inc. to sell but 30,000 of a projected 200,000
PDF copies of what it billed as the first-ever consumer-customized magazine.
Consumers were able to pick content from five of eight Time, Inc. or American
Express Publishing titles for the issue dubbed Mine-My Magazine, My Way. All of
Mine’s 31,00 print copies were claimed by subscribers.
Inc. reports a new service due this Fall, Journalism Online, promises to provide
publishers with simple, flexible payment mechanisms for use on publisher
websites and covering sales by subscription (multiple time durations, different
content areas, etc.) and by item. Consumers who go directly to Journalism Online
to set up their passwords will have the option to apply that same password to
multiple purchases within the network of publishers established by Journalism
Online or to pay a flat monthly fee for access to the entire network.
In a piece for
Post Publication titled The Motor Is The Message, Jonathan Blum sketches the
advance of in-car telematics and the new in-car apps they’ll afford. He
concludes, “These new digital applications are not only tantalizing for
marketers, but are pressuring automakers to start acting like consumer
electronics companies and roll out new tools in 18-month cycles, rather than the
traditional 2-4-year cycle of the auto industry.”
New York Times staffers have taken a 5 percent pay cut. . . .Gannett has linked 100
of its print and broadcast digital communities in a network reaching 25 million
people. . . . www.Gawker.com reports Hachette Filipacchi (Car and Driver,
Track) is cutting rates it pays freelancers. . . . Flat Earth News author
Davies quote picked up by The Immediate Networks Press, PR and Media Digest:
"The big lie you find all over the world from media corporations is that they
can cut staffing and resources without damaging the quality of the news they
produce." . . . Conde Nast has closed its much ballyhooed Portfolio
business magazine launched in April 2007.
Bill Maloney sent along two of his columns for the daily Honolulu
Advertiser that dealt with auto shows on television. The first expressed
his disbelief in the mid-60’s that a Motorsports show he wrote, produced
and hosted in Chicago was worthy of a regional Emmy nomination. He
contrasted that with today when there is an entire TV network devoted to
the topic. During that time span he has produced 2300 car reviews for TV
and registered at least 30 concepts for automotive TV shows with the
Writers Guild of America - some of which have been aired by others. He
asks, rhetorically, if that registration is worth anything. AWComs’s
answer is that he can make a lot of lawyers rich by trying to find out.
Among the show concepts he has in his WGA “vault”: “The Chargers" – a
series about the world’s great stock car drivers; RPM International
Journalism Awards; for a car wax sponsor, "Fantastic Finishes," auto races
with close finishes and “The Car Lady.” If you are producing any of
these Maloney will welcome royalties sent care of his Ohana Road TV show
at ABC TV in Honolulu.
Not blowing up your racecar is a new rule
for LeMons Series entrants, at least while participating in one of the
races for wrecks. “In a nut shell,” says LeMons impresario
“your exhaust shouldn’t fall the hell off or boil the gas in your tank.”
Something of this sort happened at a recent LeMons race, with a
resultant boom. . . . And, further evidence that the barbarians are at
the gates, The Concurs d’ LeMons has been announced for the
Peninsula in competition with the Pebble Beach primo showcase. This one
features “the oddball, mundane and truly awful.” For
a descent into this inferno, go to
. . . A comprehensive calendar of race dates worldwide is available at
Harrell Engines and Racing Equipment is not a catalog but a
history of drag racing from 1930 to the 60’s written by the nephews and
great grandnephew of early hot rodders Jim and Nick Harrell. One or more
of them will be on hand for a book signing May 30 at Autobooks-Aerobooks
in Burbank, Calif. . . . Bob McClurg has modestly emailed from his new
Hawaii base: “Ladies & Gentleman! I am in the process of completing my
latest (10x10 coffee table book, 345-pages) dedicated to the life and
times of Donald Frank Yenko. It will be titled, "YENKO! THE MAN, THE
MACHINES, THE LEGEND!" The publisher is Car Tech, Inc. and the release
date is scheduled for sometime around Christmas. Thank you for putting
me on your list.” Contact him at:
Larry Crane has a new weekly blog devoted to French and Italian cars:
www.velocetoday.com and he can be reached at:
. . . Marti Eulberg has resigned as President and CEO of Masarati
North America and Raffaele Fusilli, the company’s global commercial
director, is the interim replacement. . . . Ray Gehm (email@example.com) is
an assistant editor at SAE International and David Alexander has left. .
. . Steve Wheeler (firstname.lastname@example.org) has replaced
as Wheels editor at the Baton Rouge Advocate. . . . Derek Stark has left
Ward’s and Cliff Banks
took on his duties.
Winding Road’s Kimberly Ewing has a new email
address: email@example.com. . . . Also new for
editor Damola Idowu is
firstname.lastname@example.org . . .
at The Enthusiast Network is
email@example.com . . .
Reed has departed Diesel Power Magazine. . . .Gabriel Pruett (firstname.lastname@example.org)
has replaced Ashley Sanders as editor of the Orange, Texas Leader. . .
Joe Donovan at WWJ News Radio can be reached
The Community Leader in Loveland, Ohio
has dropped automotive coverage and Jim Gruber is no longer there . . .
Laura Burstein left Edmunds.Com and freelances at home (email@example.com)
. . . Freelancer Tom Benford’s new email is
Tombenford@verizon.net . . .
Chevy High Performance web editor Mike Payne can be reached at
and Popular Hot Rodding web editor Ed Kimball at
across the finish line
David Poole - Charlotte Observer NASCAR reporter for 13 years.
Considered the leader and most authoritative voice among NASCAR journalists.
Glenn F. Campbell
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Special Alert: Chrysler Restructuring
Chrysler has established
http://www.chryslerrestructuring.com web site where media
can access news releases, copies of court documents, memos to
suppliers and employees and stay updated on the Chrysler LLC
restructuring. It also has telephone hotlines
877-271-1568 for the U.S. and Canada and 503-597-770 for
produced a six-page industry analysis of the
current Chrysler situation.
For more information contact:
Dan Hall or Stephanie Brinley
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Petersen Museum’s Charity Gala
Los Angeles, CA
Open House Academy of Art University School of
San Francisco, CA
MPG Spring Power Trip
(3 Private Collections)
Los Angeles, CA
CAR Management Briefing Seminars Traverse City, Mich.
IMPA TEST DAYS
TAWA Spring Challenge
Writers’ Choice Awards
The Car of Texas and Best New Design
Family Car of Texas
2009 Ford Flex
2010 Volvo XC60
Best Use of Technology
2010 Ford Fusion Hybrid
2010 Kia Soul
APA Luncheon, Eyes On Design, Detroit, MI
MPG Luncheon, TBA, Los Angeles, CA
IMPA, Spring Brake Driving Program, Harriman, NY
APA, Luncheon, Detroit, MI, Bob Lutz
MAMA Luncheon, Bloomington Gold, Oakbrook Terrace, IL
MPG Luncheon, Los Angeles, CA
IMPA Luncheon, Mazda, NYC, NY
APA/J.D., Power Luncheon, Detroit, MI
MAMA/Toyota Luncheon, Oakbrook Terrace, IL
MPG Luncheon, Los Angeles, CA
IMPA Luncheon, Cadillac, NYC, NY
NEMPA, Ragtop Ramble, Boston, MA
MPG Luncheon, Los Angeles, CA
The 14 regional automotive press associations provide
information and background not easily found elsewhere.
they are too distant to attend their meetings, belonging usually
gives you access to transcripts or reports of these events and
Automotive Press Association, Detroit - Katie Kerwin
International Motor Press Association, NYC, Fred Chieco, President -
Greater Atlanta Automotive Media Association www.gaama.org
Midwest Automotive Media Association, Chicago -
Motor Press Guild, Los Angeles -
New England Motor Press Association, Boston -
Northwest Automotive Press Association, Port Orchard, WA-
Phoenix Automotive Press Association, Phoenix, Cathy Droz, President-
Rocky Mountain Automotive Press, Denver -firstname.lastname@example.org
Southern Automotive Media Association, Miami FL, Ron Beasley, President,
Automotive Media Organization, Charlotte, NC
Texas Auto Writers Association
http://www.TexasAutoWriters.org, Harold Gunn,
Truck Writers of North America,www.twna.org Tom Kelley,
Executive Director, email@example.com
Western Automotive Journalists, San Francisco -www.waj.org, Ron Harrison
Washington Automotive Press Association, D.C., Rick Trawick, Presidentwww.washautopress.org
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