Portland in the Round board meeting 8-8-10
From Portland Afoot
In April, Michael started full-time with a prototype of Portland Afoot. He spends 60 hours for print product, but it will continue to drop a bit. He said it will not go below 40 hours, and some could be more than that.
Michael said he is struggling to find upbeat stories for the “Only on the Bus” sections.
Dean and Carries said they were thrown by the typography in the main story of the most recent “newbie” issue, but the content was really good.
Carrie asked why the man was picture in the main story of the “newbie” issue. Not totally clear. Dean said he doesn’t really like the graphics that have been chosen for the front page.
Brian asked if Mike has thought about putting a headline of the content on the front and pointed out that there’s no text that make people want to read more.
Mike explained that he’s not trying to communicate the content to people who haven’t already bought it because people who have bought it know what it’s about and it’s mainly of use to people who but it every month.
Jess said it’s important to get people if they see it on their friend’s coffee. If they aren’t told about it extensively, they may not know what it is.
Brian said it would be worth experimenting with.
Board members suggested drawing out interesting/important things from inside and putting them on the front page.
The first “getaway” issue had a typo (“isssue”) Next month was the “time” issue. Mike had a devil of a time getting it printed. There were also massive copying expenses for May.
Mike said that to get the deal on mailing, he needs to send 200 copies. Right now he’s at 170. He will add a buch of bike shop addresses, hopefully be at 200.
Mike said, “I spend a lot of time on the Internet, posting things, stories that develop. I’m trying to judge whether it’s going to be something of continued interested in a year.” There are 400 wiki pages. “I expected to over invest,” he said.
“I haven’t been able to spend much time on subscriptions, talking to people on the bus,” Mike said. “I’m scared and don’t have the social energy to do it.” Mike also lacks a square device card reader to make sales on the bus.
Given the amount of time it takes on marketing and relationships, Mike said there will be no second brand on same time scale. “The more likely outcome would be to focus on sponsor distribution, working within the brand we’ve got,” Mike said.
He plans to do a pilot project in Sept. for some employer and use that as piolot project for getting it to other employers.
He needs to get employer, then the distributor, to commit.
“It’s more successful to get employers to do it for free than finding the 6 that are willing to pay for it,” Mike said.
Some businesses are mandated to reduce single occupancy vehicle trips with no enforcement. They may distribute bus passes on a monthly basis
There aren’t a lot of ways to advertise to a workplace. Sponsor will pay, he said.
Mike would have 6 month contract with all the advertisers. He would use internal distribution at businesses.
Carrie suggested he try to get in touch with company’s “green teams” as well.
Mike is working through Transportation Management Associations particularly those at Lloyd Center, Swan Island and the South Waterfront.
TMAs are staffed by environmentalists, he said, frustrated by lack of progress in drive alone trips. Successful converts are leaving after a year, he said.
Mike assumes that the cost of an issue for a year is $10. “I went for a similar number to CPM in the Mercury,” he said. “I need over 3,000 for this to be sustatianable.” He would need 2,000 paid subscriptions to people’s home.
TMA would communicate the content that would be usefully to government locally, Mike said.
Dean asked, is there federal money?
Mike talked about “Regional Travel Options” which gives money for things like free bike classes, bike path and businesses to walk to.
In July, Mike spent too much time worrying about a breaking news, bike story.
“I’m learning how to use the wiki page,” he said. “I did a ton of work on the wiki, to figure out the syntax. Everytime you do one page, there are four more that ought to exist.
Mike said he spent half of June trying to track down events and trying to get there, having people not show up. He will continue to have Portland Afoot at places that sell things on consignment to increase visibility. He will go to the zine convention. “I would like to be at more events, but it costs money to table.”
Dean said, don’t discount value of the wiki. Brian said, hard to quantify return of things that create “brand equity,” but it does have real value. Carrie encouraged Mike to do things to keep money coming in.
Dean asked, what are you not doing (in marketing) that could be done? Mike said he has not given up on individual subscriptions, and there customers are more loyal.
“People I interview are likely to subscribe,” he said. “They have been pleased and wanted to subscribe.”
Brian suggested Mike take a “sales bag” to be able to make a sale anywhere.
There are 22 sustaining memberships, Mike will have something for them. “I’m maxing out on reaching those on Twitter alone,” he said.
Mike said Dad asked his donation be used on marketing.
“I would like to have a string attached to every donation,” he said.
Jess wants to figure out a way to express obligations for sales, in the next few weeks By Aug. 22 , Mike will get Jess the estimate, information about what is coming in but not going out. Jess said she would like to be able to compare accounts over time.
Employer distribution will depend on smooth mailer and printer process, Mike said. Is Portland Afoot, more willing to deal with the problems of targeting to the workplace? TMAs already email event listings related to TMA. They want to do more recruitment at the very small resources. Portland Afoot could be an incentive for replying to (TMA) emails. TMAs have to let people know we’re not published by the TMAs, Mike said.
Mike said he might also go to the City of Portland, the department to reduce commute trips. Dean suggested going to TriMet to find out who’s getting cut rate bus passes.
Mike said he wanted to share regrets. “I regret not using volunteers better. In a journalism class at U of O, teacher asked if interns were needed,” he said. Also, Mike has not had Dean review each issue before it goes out. He hasn’t gotten accounting notes to Jessica. “I haven’t had my life in order enough, doing things for the first time.”
Mike also regrets not talking to enough ordinary people. “It gives me energy for the reporting and the whole enterprise,” he said. Brian suggested to having talking to people a scheduled event on the calendar. Carrie suggested working on transit.
Mike said he’s on target minus the subscriptions. He has meetings with executive directors of TMAs coming up.
Board discussed Selective advertising policy. Mike will revise it to not name TriMet specifically.
In March, Mike will launch a “real estate publication” pilot project to feature car-free friendly features of neighborhoods including “most green” apartments. It will be a one page print hand out with bike shops and rail lines, to be updated every six months.
Brian said it could be an intern project. He said they will want it to be positive. Maike may put more controversial stuff online.
Mike will finish the non-profit application and pay $850. “We have to provide something below cost (he thinks $5 or $10 will qualify),” he said.
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