Who says 60 is the new 40? Well, actually it’s the one who is 60

Some time ago, a colleague dropped by, grimacing as he reached for his back, a slight stoop to his posture.
“You know you’re getting old when merely standing up brings on the aches and pains,” he said, perhaps looking for some sympathy.
I don’t know about that, being a fit, handsome and incredibly, eternally, youthful man. But it did get me to thinking about the signs we, or rather you, give off to reveal the fact Mother Nature takes no prisoners. 
Sooner or later we, I mean you, surrender to the slow, relentlessly grim pull of the reaper. Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for you!
Anyway, enough joviality. Here are some behaviours I’ve seen that indicate you, not me, are getting … mature.
When you not only don’t recognize the song being played, you have no idea what kind of device it’s being played on, you know it’s all passing you by.
If you talk more about your snowblower than sex, life, as you have known it, is ending.
When the bartender calls you sir instead of buddy, it’s a sign the age train is pulling into the station.
You know you’re getting on when you break wind in public, and either don’t know or don’t care.
If your back goes out more than you do, it might be a sign the years are piling up.
When you start to scream at the neighbourhood kids, and they’re not even on your lawn, it’s a sign old man grump has come calling.
When you start to laugh like the Penguin (think about it), don’t be surprised if someone gives up a chair for you.
If someone starts to tell you the good news about prostate health, man-o-man you are past it.
If you still think polyester is cheap stuff, your days as a fashion hound are well behind you.
If you get on the dance floor and even attempt to ‘do the hustle,’ grab the next bus for retirement city because they have a lovely lawn chair waiting just for you.
If someone calls you at 9 p.m. and asks if they woke you, age has become a factor.
When you get into the elevator and start to hum along, just step off between floors because there isn’t anywhere to go but down.
If the name Lawrence Welk even enters your vocabulary, grab some popcorn – with butter substitute of course – and watch the show.
When just about everything under the sun or moon has the potential to annoy you, it might be time to admit your capacity to just ‘put up with it’ is diminishing as fast as your bone mass.
You know you’re getting on when you start to worry about getting on – unless you’re an excessive worrier who has been obsessing about age since you were 20. If that’s the case, well never mind.
I know it’s rough getting old, but someone has to do it. And just remember, there’s always someone older than you. If not, man are you old!

Newsletters build audience and brand loyalty

When creating and distributing a newsletter or email campaign, there are a couple of key points to consider, including content and audience – both established and new.

An email newsletter cements the relationship with clients and stakeholders by presenting useful information that drives sales, builds audience and increases brand loyalty. It’s an extension of the story you want to tell, and who better to help you do that than a brand journalist employing journalistic techniques to connect with your audience?

Research shows that newsletter campaigns work, with some studiesshowing a return of $40 or so for every dollar invested in an email campaign. Getting someone’s direct attention is a valuable outcome of any outreach strategy, and successful newsletters can do just that.

It’s about understanding what your customers, present and future, need and how to speak directly to them. A properly executed newsletter is a great way to establish long-term relationships and grow business. A brand journalist will craft newsletter content tailored to your brand and highlighting the benefits of working with you. The content should be engaging, informative and, yes, entertaining.

So, why create a newsletter? Consider these points:

• People are busy, and that includes your customers. You can’t expect them to spend a lot of time thinking about your brand and services. A newsletter engages your audience, helping to keep your company top of mind.

• As shown by research, newsletters drive sales. According to Convince & Convert, 44 percent of email subscribers made at least one purchase based on a promotional email they received in 2015.

• Newsletter analytical tools tell the story of audience engagement. A newsletter campaign is a proven method of building trust.

• When it comes to a newsletter, short and sweet is better than long and laboured. You want to get your audience’s attention and keep it before time and/or distraction removes it. For a more detailed reading links are a great way to bring readers back to you site, or content hub.

• You may have more than one story to tell, perhaps focusing on individual products and services. Creating additional or supplementary newsletters will help you reach a broader audience.

• A newsletter can also be useful in communicating with your internal audience, your employees.

• Done right, a newsletter campaign will boost social media followings. They are highly effective for growing your online community.

Contact Devine Media Service, your brand journalists, for more on the benefits of having your own newsletter campaign.

Journalism does matter, quality journalism matters even more

Journalism matters. That was the catch-phrase of a campaign a few years ago, launched by a combination of labour unions representing journalists in Ontario. It was an effort to remind the public that journalism and journalists play critical roles in a democracy and civil society.

Journalists tell stories, small and large, about people and the issues that resonate. I’ve always felt that it’s our job to tell people not only what they want to know, but perhaps more importantly what they need to know. We do that through well-crafted and researched stories, written and edited, with a narrative flow, entertaining and informing along the way.

The industry continues to evolve, with the older legacy model facing ongoing challenges, and newer platforms emerging. I imagine legacy media as an aging tree that has been shedding leaves, talent, for years. And as that talent takes root, new organic conversations grow. These conversations have the potential to reach new and expanding audiences, breaking from the old confines and biases.

Content matters. It is king, and without good content voices, new or old, won’t be heard. The audience, readership, won’t develop. Good content comes from the ability to think critically and follow where a story leads, going through open doors to see what’s there. Curiosity didn’t kill the cat, it led to answers and solutions.

Advocacy matters, including advocacy journalism. Part of a journalist’s job is to pursue content, stories, that advocates for people and community, from focusing on the need for adequate retirement income to fighting city hall. Building and maintaining a team of writers with a range of backgrounds and interests matters, as it allows for a well-rounded, diverse and enlightened conversation. That, I believe, is vital to building audience and trust.

The way content is offered matters. I’ve always had a fondness for the ‘people-issue’ approach, placing readers at the heart of the story. If, for instance, a reporter is covering a basic news event, like the installation of new sewers on a street, get comment from residents as to what they think about having their street ripped up instead of just reporting what the politicians and officials have to say. Connect the story to the reader. An online platform provides a terrific opportunity to expand the conversation, through links and such.

A passion for quality journalism, telling stories, speaking truth to power and advocating for people whose voices aren’t heard as much as others, matters. Without that passion, what’s the point? It’s not difficult to express an opinion, or to get on a soapbox and rant and rave about this or that. Happens all the time. But shouted comment is not informed comment, at least not for the most part. Journalists are professionals trained to disseminate information, getting to the heart of the matter. Trust them to do that.

Personally, I believe vibrant journalism is vital to the survival and strength of a democracy. Consider countries without a free press. What are they? Totalitarian states, that’s what. Without that free press, we’d all be mushrooms … sitting in the dark and fed bullshit. Journalists need to value the privilege and opportunity to connect people to the issues that matter, small and large. In the end, isn’t that what ‘journalism matters’ is all about?

Will CEO pledge improve the lives and conditions of employees and communities? We will see

Do you remember back in the early days of 2012 when Caterpillar Inc. closed the doors of its plant in London, eliminating 450 good-paying manufacturing jobs.
I remember thinking at the time that this was one of the more brutal and blatant examples of how corporations competing in the age of globalization acted on behalf of shareholders. 
Well, according to a recent pledgesigned by corporate CEOs, the interests of employees, their families and communities may be on the upswing. The Business Roundtable document spells out five commitments, putting employees and communities on equal footing with other priorities, including delivering value to customers, and generating long-term value for shareholders.
Investing in employees “starts with compensating them fairly and providing important benefits. It also includes supporting them through training and education that help develop new skills for a rapidly changing world. We foster diversity and inclusion, dignity and respect,” reads the statement.
“Supporting the communities in which we work” means respecting “the people in our communities and (protecting) the environment by embracing sustainable practices across our businesses.”
Might not sound like a big deal, but if the CEOs are serious, this could represent the most important attitude shift since the early days of globalization and free trade, which some, including this scribe, have always considered a bill of rights for corporations to do what they wanted in pursuit of shareholder value and profit.
It wasn’t always that way. At one time, decades ago, corporations were very much more involved in the lives of their employees, providing a fair wage, employment benefits that included pensions and healthcare coverage, vacation pay, and others. Some still do, far too many don’t or offer a much reduced package of wages and benefits. Defined-benefit pensions, for example, were once the mainstay of a secure and dignified retirement. Now, and for the last 30-40 years, they are disappearing from the private sector, although remaining a presence in the public sector. It’s no coincidence that this timeframe coincides with what has been called the ‘race to the bottom,’ a reference to the pressure on governments and workers to accept lower wages and benefits to keep an employer, usually a manufacturer, in town.
The old employer/employee relationship allowed employees and their families to have a relatively secure middle-class lifestyle, benefiting their communities as the money they made got spent on local goods and services, creating jobs and supporting the tax base along the way. It helped sustain the middle class and upward mobility. Take a look at the landscape now: rising income inequality, a gig economy with no benefits and low wages, lower standards and expectations.
I believe in capitalism, but am not sure that what is going on now can be called classic capitalism, which is the best economic system for creating wealth and opportunity. Rather, I’d suggest we live in an age of corporatism, defined as governance for and of corporations. It was corporations that largely wrote the rules of globalization, mostly excluding labour and environmental standards, or ignoring them if they were included. If those standards had been taken seriously, it might have levelled the playing field somewhat. The new United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA) is said to have stronger labour and environmental standards, but we will have to see how that plays out.
It should be mentioned that globalization has its proponents, with some reports linking it to a decline of global poverty rates. Some sectors and regions have benefitted, others have not.
We aren’t going back to the age of company towns and cradle-to-grave jobs with a single employer, but a refocusing of corporations on employees, their families and communities can only help battle the economic and social ills of today, and perhaps along the way help people live happier, stress-reduced lives. We will see.

Staff report sees little traction in privatization of marina, but identifies ‘alternative operating’ strategy

A staff report investigating the potential privatization, either through lease, sale or outsourcing management, of the Barrie Marina recommends not entering those waters as they offer no clear advantage for the City.
Rather, the report, prepared by Gus Diamantopoulos, manager of corporate facility services, presents an alternative operating strategy for the marina, which includes the potential for it to become a “higher service marina,” in part by removing restrictions that prevent non-residents from getting a slip.
“There is demand for slips in the Barrie marina from non-residents who own larger more expensive boats. These boaters are willing to pay higher rates based on the size of boat provided that marina amenities more closely match those of other marinas in the area,” reads the report.
“These enhanced amenities include wi-fi, winter haul-out and storage services, laundry facilities, upgraded dedicated washroom and shower facilities plus community space for barbecues and member get-togethers.”
However, the report recommends no action on this alternative yet, as “staff are continuing to investigate these opportunities.”
In addition to the alternative operating strategy, the report presented three other options: leasing the marina as a public/private partnership, selling the marina to a private operator, and outsourcing marina operations to a management firm.
Requests for expressions of interest received no responses for selling or leasing the marina, and one from an American marina management operator.
The report is in response to a May 9, 2016 motion that called on staff to “investigate and update the feasibility of privatizing the City of Barrie Marina and/or Marina operations through lease or sale and report back” to general committee.” 
Also, during the Barrie Waterfront & Marina Strategic Plan, Baird & Associates were asked to specifically comment about the advisability of selling or leasing the Marina to the private sector. The following is an excerpt from the Baird & Associates Plan, states the report.
“In our view, there would be no significant advantages to the City. Given the marina’s central placement in the waterfront and the opportunities that surround it for future public benefits, the disadvantages associated with losing control outweigh any benefits.” 
The Waterfront & Marina Strategic Plan also recommended maintaining public ownership and operation of the marina. This recommendation was accepted by council through motion 13-G-274.
The City has managed the marina since 1971. Prior to that, it was leased to a series of private operators with the City being responsible for all capital investment and renewal, with the primary focus being to provide “seasonal marina services to Barrie residents for small to mid-sized boats, and transient boat slips for visitors. 
Staff refer to it as a low-fee, low-service marina compared to other such facilities in the region.
“On average the City marina fees are 20 to 40 per cent lower than other local marinas. The marina offers the basic services essential to the boating community including a gas dock, waste pump-out, boat launch, potable water supply, shore power and minimal restroom/shower facilities.”
However, the report doesn’t go into the additional costs marina patrons pay, including winter storage, parking, lift in/out, that are covered by fees paid at other marinas. These additional out-of-pocket expenses bring the overall costs of keeping a boat at the Barrie marina closer to the fees paid at other marinas which include such services in overall costs.
The marina is self-sufficient, with all operating and capital costs coming through fees and at no cost to the “tax fund.” It operates with an annual surplus. Weaknesses identified include distance from the Trent-Severn system and related boat traffic, limited boater amenities, lack of parking, lack of winter storage, and limited capacity to accommodate larger boats.
Opportunities detailed include rate increases to support upgrades to the marina and “immediate vicinity,” expanding launch, pump-out fees, and masting fees to all users; currently, only non-residents are charged a launch fee.
Other opportunities identified include expanding services, including wi-fi, laundry facilities, winter storage and commercial opportunities.
“A broad range of commercial opportunities including sailing and fishing charters could be supported out of the marina.”
Threats listed include access to capital and resistance from marina users. “There is a general resistance from the marina’s current seasonal lessees, 98 per cent of which are City of Barrie residents, to pay more than a marginal rate increase for an enhanced level of service.”



Let the pros craft your editorial solutions

Know what you want to say, but running into constraints in communicating and presenting your messaging to clients and/or stakeholders? Why not turn to expert wordsmiths and paginators to get the job done?

It’s a wired world with tweets and posts dominating the messaging  landscape, but sometimes substance is required to give all that instance communication relevance and meaning. From newsletters to blogs, crafting the right dialogue and tone forms the basis of the conversation between you and your audience.

Every writer knows the agony of staring at a computer screen, fingers poised at the keyboard, waiting in vain for a streak of inspiration to come along. Why put yourself through all of that misery? Pay the experts to do it and save yourself the aggravation.

Devine Media Service welcomes that aggravation. We are here to relieve you of that misery, with solutions that include:

Writing solutions

• Do you know what a lede is? Or as it is sometimes spelled, a lead? If someone mentions story flow, structure, second lede/lead, any idea what they are talking about? If not, turn the job over to the pros who can craft your story in a compelling, engaging, informative and entertaining narrative.

• Style matters, but so does structure. Is the content valuable to readers? Usually it is, but often the message gets lost in the structure. A professional writer, such as a brand journalist, will structure your tale so that it resonates, ensuring you are heard and understood. Often it starts with a question: what do I want the reader to know/do after reading this? The answer begins with a focused writing style and strategy.

• Same goes for press releases, speeches and opinion pieces, blogs, and content for brochures. Style, focus, experience and talent all go into the mix for successful messaging.

Editing/pagination services

• Using programs including InDesign, Photoshop, and Illustrator, Devine Media Service provides pagination/page layout for print and online publications.

• Those publications include magazines, newsletters, industry newspapers, online blogs, and more.

Web writing solutions:

• You have designed your site, and now you need to populate it with content to describe the products and services available. As with all content, this writing should be engaging, compelling and informative, leading the reader to contact you for more information.  Words matter, and so does structure and tone.

• Blogs and other online content should follow journalistic principles, as provided by a brand journalist. In telling your story, let us go beyond mere marketing and press releases to engage your audience, bringing them back to your content hub for a more detailed exploration of what you have to offer.

• Web writing has its own style and tone, including writing in shorter sentences, using the active voice, having different points of entry into the story for all those ‘scanners,’ writing for the reader, using subheads and lists, providing useful links, and, of course, including keywords for SEO.

Contact us today for solutions to all your editorial needs. We look forward to hearing from you.