Q. Can a national news story put a city on the map?
It should, says James Curran, assistant professor of marketing at the University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee, especially a piece like The New York Times ran in March in the Friday "Escapes" section, titled "How a Backwater Becomes a Destination." That article described Palmetto as a "formerly snoozy little farm town" that's ripe for development thanks to that "magical Floridian cocktail of benign winters, beautiful waters and plentiful small holes in which to sink even smaller balls." The article, which was accompanied by a picture of a beautiful Victorian mansion along the Manatee River, noted that not too long ago land was available for less than $20,000 an acre, a steal by the measuring stick of swanky Northeasterners.
"Historically," says Curran, "any sort of story like this would put a town on the map. It was pretty complimentary. The New York Times has a higher-end readership, so it will put Palmetto on some people's radar screens, people who would never have considered Palmetto before."
So has it? Kevin Rehmeyer, sales manager for the high-rise condominium community of Bel Mare in Palmetto's upscale Riviera Dunes, says, "We've had considerable interest because of the piece. The article came out on a Friday, and that weekend and for the next two weeks we were receiving three to four calls a week from the New York metro area." Most of the callers were wondering if they really could buy a 4,000-square-foot penthouse right on the water for $2 million, Rehmeyer says. (Yes, it's true.) Rehmeyer didn't close any sales over the phone, but several callers said they'd be coming down to take a look the next time they were in Florida.
Tanya Lukowiak, executive director of the Community Redevelopment Agency in Palmetto, says the pace has been so frenzied in the last couple of years, she can't tell if business is picking up. "All I can tell you is that we're busy. Businesspeople call-retailers mostly-and want to know how much space we have and what our average rent is."
Curran says if he were in charge of the city's economic development, he'd be developing a PR campaign around the New York Times article, making it part of the local chamber's Web site and making sure developers and investors saw the opportunities in the city.
But Palmetto Mayor Larry Bustle isn't sure more publicity is needed, and since the city doesn't have a PR official, he's not sure how the piece will be marketed. "Honestly, I can appreciate the article, but we're not soliciting people to come here, because people are clearly coming. We're already going to double in size. We've got 4,500 utility customers in the city and 5,000 homes in different stages of permitting." -Susan Burns
BUZZ WORD Googling yourself to see where, when and how many times your name comes up. Source: BuzzWhack
MIND YOUR MANNERS
Business etiquette from national restaurant consultant Judi Gallagher.
At business luncheons, how can I tell which glass and butter plate are mine?
Reaching for the wrong glass will not lose a contract but can be embarrassing. Your water glass should be situated above your knife. Let your guest reach for his glass first if the table is not set correctly.
Your bread and butter plate is always to the left of your salad and entrée forks. Do not reach into a bread basket and search. Always offer the bread basket to the people on your right and left first and take what is available. Do not break a conversation to ask for the butter. It is often awkwardly placed in banquet facilities in the center of the table. Mind your manners and only reach if someone asks you to. www.judigallagher.com.
BUSINESS CALENDAR 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Hyatt, 1000 Boulevard of the Arts, Sarasota. $40 for Greater Sarasota Chamber members, $60 for nonmembers; corporate tables available. For reservations, call 955-2508 ext. 516, or RSVP online at www.sarasotachamber.com.
JUNE 1 2006 Frank G. Berlin Sr. Small Business Awards
Longboat Key Chamber's Fourth Annual "Hurricane Party" A discussion of real-world experiences and lessons from the last two years of storms. 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Longboat Key Club's Harbourside Dining Room. Longboat/Lido/St. Armands Chamber members only. Call 383-2466.
JUNE 13 Chamber University Business Development Workshop on disaster planning and business continuity planning, 10 a.m. to noon at the Greater Sarasota Chamber Boardroom, 1945 Fruitville Road, Sarasota. Members: $29 per session or $75 for all three sessions; nonmembers: $59 per session or $149 for all three sessions. Call 955-2508 ext. 231, or RSVP online at www.sarasotachamber.com.
JUNE 15 Downtown Partnership of Sarasota membership breakfast 7:45 a.m. at a location TBA. $5 donation. Call 951-2656.
JUNE 22 Chamber U Executive Breakfast Series "Using Technology to Grow Your Business" is the topic. 8 a.m. at Michael's On East, 1212 East Ave. S., Sarasota. $30 for Greater Sarasota Chamber members, $35 for nonmembers. Call 955-2508 ext. 231 or RSVP online at www.sarasotachamber.com.
Venice Chamber Business After Five 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Café 1660, 1660 S. Tamiami Trail, Osprey. $4 for members, $8 for nonmembers. Call 488-2236.
JUNE 27 "Destination Downtown" Forum on redesigning Third Street presented by the Downtown Partnership of Sarasota. 11:45 a.m. at the University Club, 1605 Main St., Sarasota. $25 for members, $40 for nonmembers. Call 951-2656.
Kristine Nickel of TideWell Hospice discusses the calculated risk of changing the organization's name.
By Abby Weingarten
Last October, Hospice of Southwest Florida changed its name to TideWell Hospice and Palliative Care. Changing names is always chancy since the organization risks losing its identity. TideWell made the move after months of surveys and market research, and the new title is slowly working its way into the vernacular. Kristine Nickel, executive vice president of business development and public affairs, discussed some of the strategies involved in the switch.
What was the purpose of the name change? "Hospice" is a generic name, and "of Southwest Florida" is a suffix that is geographic. Neither is trademarkable or a brand name. As healthcare becomes more competitive, we really needed a brand that we could market more effectively. We wanted a name that would stand for something in the minds and hearts of the community. Also, a lot of people think there's just a national Hospice and the local hospices are branches. They're all independently owned and operated. We wanted to distinguish ours.
What risks did you consider? We felt the risks were not high because of the generic nature of the word hospice. The biggest risk has been confusion over the origin of the name. Many people will say, "Did someone by the name of Tidewell die and leave you a bunch of money?" Through community relations and advertising, we hope to communicate that TideWell is really about end-of-life care and not a wealthy benefactor.
How did you find the right name? We took a methodical approach to looking at what we wanted our brand to be. We started by interviewing colleagues at Hospice, our nurses, physicians and patients. Then we went to 50 to 60 different people in the community, citizens and government officials. What did hospice mean to them? Were there keywords and phrases that described hospice? We did a day-long brand workshop.
What does "TideWell" mean? It is a philosophy that death is a natural part of life. The concept of hospice is to provide interdisciplinary care for people with advanced illnesses, and to provide compassion and comfort to the patient and their family. It's all about wellness, the art of dying well. We generated 600 names and "TideWell" clearly was the favorite. We loved the imagery of tides, the ebbs and flows of life. That's what Hospice does; we're there for you in that ebb and flow of life. We also liked it because we're in a maritime area (Manatee, Sarasota, DeSoto and Charlotte counties).
What lessons can business owners and nonprofits take away from your experience? Do your research. It's really important to find out what influential people in the community think about your brand. Is it really what you want your brand to be? Does your name fulfill the promise of your brand? If not, think about rebranding.
Florida's construction industry by the numbers.
Number of construction jobs in 1990: 254,500
Number of construction jobs in December 2005: 532,600
Increase from 1990 to 2005: 109 percent
Percentage of jobs in trade specialties (site preparation, concrete, air conditioning, etc.): 63 percent
Average annual growth rate in specialties: 5 percent
Statewide construction job vacancies: 13,712
Construction industry's percentage of all job vacancies: 8 percent
Increase in construction jobs in Manatee County since 1990: 169 percent (3,036 to 8,195)
Increase in construction jobs in Sarasota County since 1990: 129 percent (7,131 to 16,366)
Average hourly wage of construction jobs in Florida: $14.79
SOURCE: Florida Agency for Workforce Innovation, Labor Market Statistics.
MY FIRST JOB
The Art of Spin
Lakewood Ranch communications director Sondra Guffey started in radio.
Interviewed by Abby Weingarten
Sondra Guffey is director of media and communications for Lakewood Ranch Communities. Upon graduating from Illinois' Wheaton College with a bachelor's degree in speech, she worked as a disc jockey and salesperson for a struggling AM radio station in Colorado Springs. It was a slow market, with the station's Arbitron rating at a low 13 out of 14 in the area, and Guffey was hired to boost its popularity.
"I helped out part-time with a station located in the basement of a senior citizens' apartment complex that did contemporary Christian music and Spanish broadcasting programs. That was back when we had 45s and 78s, so I got to spin records. I was outgoing and I liked the news end of things, so I didn't mind that aspect of the job.
"But I was not a salesperson. I only did it for six months; that was long enough. I had to go around trying to convince people that this was a good marketing tool even though the ratings were so low. Most people weren't interested.
"Doing sales helped me get my next job, though. I was a stockbroker for Dean Witter Reynolds [now Morgan Stanley]. In those days, being a broker was very much a sales job. You had to go out and recruit your new clients, so the sales experience did greatly help my career. These things all work together.
"Now I do everything from public relations to advertising and promotions. I feel like I've combined all past careers into one perfect, happy medley here. I wouldn't have gotten here if I wasn't willing to take the job that nobody else wanted to do. So I say, 'Do the tasks that everybody else avoids.' Nothing gets you farther."