Archive for the “marketing” Category

Along the lines of East 20s Eats, Zagat’s is reportedly soon to launch a New York City restaurant deal site. As best I can surmise, members who join the site would get discounts to Zagat-rated eateries. Sounds familiar ….

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As promised earlier,  marketing director Noah Xfir has filed his full report on the student focus group we held in December.  Continue reading for his full report: (more…)

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The CUNY-J School Conference on new business models included presentations by some interesting startups that are offering services for new, local news Web sites.  Here are a few to check out:

PaperG: a tech company that automates local ads. Its “Flyerboard” feature is now being used by a lot of bigger news sites such Newsday’s and The Houston Chronicle’s. It allows businesses to easily turn flyers and print ads into interactive ads. You can see it here in the right rail of The New Haven Independent’s Web site. This company also has the ability to allow a Web site to build full Web sites for advertisers who may not have one already.

SeeClickFix: This startup allows readers to report problems in their community such as potholes and graffiti, upload photos, etc. Those reports are then forwarded to the correct officials and hopefully they’ll get fixed. This service can be placed map inside a box (or widget) on a Web page . It’s a little general for our East 20s site but it might be something we want to include to build community.  This is a service that aggregates tens of thousands of news and blog outlets. You can set this for a geographical area, and soon, also by topic.  A feed can be shown as headlines or on a map. I thought this was interesting because we were talking about pulling news feeds about food in the city.

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On Wednesday, Geanne and I attended Jeff Jarvis’ conference on new business models for journalism at the CUNY J-School.  Participants included local bloggers, entrepreneurs (people starting new Web sites or developing services for new Web sites), representatives from the mainstream media and educators. The morning was devoted to presentations about a specific business model that Jarvis has developed  along with financial experts. It was detailed, and I will pull out here,  some points that relate to what we are trying to do.  You can read all about the Jarvis plan at Here are some of the points I’d like to highlight: (more…)

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The project has gotten bigger in terms of the scope of collaboration and a recognition of the need to incorporate other stakeholders and community leaders in the planning process and to predicate the project upon a great deal of community-based research.  This is requiring a longer development phase, but we think it will help ensure we don’t squander our resources and that the project will be useful as a productive and well-positioned test of the use of a hyper local news site for community and revenue building in support of sustainable high quality journalism. Professor Vera Haller is taking a leading role on this project, along with a marketing consultant hired from Baruch’s business school.

We are building a database of local businesses.  We have four business students working as interns and literally going block by block to gather information and then they are working to enter that information into a database. There will be two rounds of data collection.  Right now, they’re gathering basic factual information about local businesses.  The database will be incorporated into the platform we will build.  We believe the database will present major advantages across all three priority areas — informing and enriching content, revenue-building and community-building aspects of the project.

We are engaging local community leaders in an advisory board that will have input and impact in the development stage.  We want to ensure the site is going to be useful and that members of the community feel they’ve been included in the design and development process.  What we don’t want to do is to build the site and then seek to engage them because, by that point, their input would be less useful.  We want them to feel this is a community site and that means we need to reach out to the community before it’s built.

Along the same lines, we also are holding at least two focus groups to ensure the content and services offered through the site are designed with real information from the community and not just our speculation about what the community might want.

We are awaiting a proposal for a phone application that would allow those who download it to hear about specials in real time at local restaurants.  We anticipate that this could produce revenue from the consumer side and from the advertisers and also help to engage both and build community.

Based upon all of this, we will develop specifications for the site and its features.  We went through an extended period of discussions and research about technology platforms and alternatives.  We decided against building a platform from scratch.  We decided it ultimately will be more efficient to have a platform that’s based upon Drupal or WordPress.  We think that would be less expensive and would give us greater flexibility and control in-house.  Lisa Williams, of Placeblogger and M.I.T., has been extremely helpful.  What we intend to do is to use either Drupal or WordPress and then work with Craig Stone, who is in our journalism department at Baruch, in collaboration with outside developers/designers as needed, including, most likely, Duy Linh Tu of Columbia Journalism, to build the site.  The site, in addition to presenting multimedia content, will need to include capabilities for many opportunities for interactivity (including a click voting feature), registration of readers/contributors, rewarding readers for participation (free lunch or other prizes for participation-related contests), social networking, revenue-building (including advertising, coupons, contributions/donations), and measurement and assessment of user experience and success of the site.

We have some editorial content and will be working to develop more content through some of the intake being done during round two of the database data collection process (including multimedia content) and by hiring editorial interns for the spring semester who will work with journalism faculty.  In addition, and equally significantly, we will be aggregating related content from other food news sites, seeking to incorporate information from resources such as EveryBlock, Chowhound, MenuPages, and other sites, and encouraging/rewarding user-generated content.

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On Monday, Nov. 2, our business marketing interns will be out on the streets of the East 20s collecting information for our database. Among the work they’re doing is documenting all the food establishments in the neighborhood. They were all excited about the project during an orientation last week.  blogphoto(Photo L-R: Rashmi Singh, Purva Krishna, Bavesh Dalal, Prof. Vera Haller, Janet Yu and Noah Xifr, strategic marketing director for the East 20s Project)

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In the department of what we can learn from the Huffington Post about building audience, Dan Collins, the New York Editor for HP who came to speak to my internship class this fall, mentioned a surprising statistic on how readers find their way to the Huffington Post: 70 percent of the search terms that lead people to the HP site involve popular culture and scandals, especially related to celebrities. This seems surprising given that HP is largely known as a liberal political blog. It made me think that we should have a “celebrity watch” section on the E. 20s project, i.e. a place where people can post when/where they’ve seen a celeb (dining? or just hanging out?) in the neighborhood, including photos. We need only devote a small amount of space to this. But it might lead traffic our way and to the meatier (sorry) stories/posts…

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On Saturday, I wandered down to the Meatpacking District to see what was happening at the blogger room of the Food Network’s NYC Food and Wine Festival.

My mission was to mingle and possibly round up some business cards of potential bloggers for the new site.

The blogger room, set up in the lobby of the new and chic Standard Hotel,  was humming. People were sitting around small tables, typing away at their Mac laptops. A photographer was uploading pictures and one blogger was interviewing a bubbly Mark Dacascos,  chairman of the Food Network’s Iron Chef America show. (A friend since told me he’s also a contestant on this season’s “Dancing With The Stars.”)

I mingled and collected a couple of cards, including that of Jeffrey Gurwin, a food photographer (Time Out, New York  Magazine) who also Twitters about the New York City restaurant scene.  His site is Find him on Twitter as “restaurantstud.”

I also met a very friendly vegan blogger, Brooke Guthrie, who is described on her business card as an “earth friendly baker.” Her site is

Most interesting was my brief conversation with Lockhart Steele, co-founder of and ( was sponsoring the blogger’s room at the festival and offered extensive coverage of the event.)

Lockhart said he was interested in our project and would be glad to come talk to the faculty about his experience creating and running a food site in the city. ( is very impressive, with a national site as well as sites covering the restaurant and bar scenes in New York City, San Francisco and Los Angeles. If you go to the New York site, you can also click on coverage by neighborhood.

Definitely worth checking out.  And I think it would be very interesting to hear what Lockhart has to say.

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