SMG uses Internet to stay socially conscious

July 13, 2009
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SMG Director of Marketing Lynne Ike hasn’t stopped using customary marketing channels like radio, television and print to promote events coming to Van Andel Arena and the DeVos Performance Hall. Nor is she planning to abandon traditional media any time soon. But Ike has expanded the arena’s marketing reach by finding fans on Facebook, making friends on MySpace and tweeting on Twitter. She called the latter site a “powerful tool.”

“It’s other ways of doing our marketing than the traditional manner,” she recently said.

Ike has quickly learned that various sites appeal to different demographic groups. She said when she is trying to reach a younger group, she uses MySpace. When she needs to communicate with the 35-and-older crowd, she chooses Facebook. And when she wants to get the word out about a show that will appeal to young children, she uses the “Moms Like Me” section on WZZM TV13’s Web site.

“So we choose our sites wisely and we have to speak the language they do,” she said.

Ike said she tries to keep her tweets on Twitter informal and has been pleased with the number of “friends” who have jumped aboard the arena’s MySpace page.

She said she was especially fascinated with a relatively new site called eventful.com, where fans name the venues where they’d like their favorite artists to play. A growing number of those artists are paying attention to the site to determine where their strongest fan base is, which could mean future concert bookings for the arena.

She said local fans have been urging Kiss to schedule the arena.

“Kiss has embraced the concept. They will route their tour on the voting,” said Ike.

What Ike has accomplished through her efforts has drawn at least one global accolade and tagged her as an innovator. Popular blogger Joe Lewi posted the following comments in May.

“Shout outs to the Century Tel Arena in Bossier City, LA, and the Van Andel Arena in Grand Rapids, MI. Even though they are not large-market venues, they are marketing like they are,” wrote Lewi. “They have a Facebook page and I follow them on Twitter. They use both of these social sites to market events coming to their buildings. When they have a show on sale, they ‘invite’ their Facebook friends to attend. They also use their Twitter account to announce all their shows,” he added.

Ike said interns keep tabs on the postings, which has helped keep the local social marketing effort ahead of the competition.

SMG also gives away event tickets at MySpace and Facebook on a quarterly basis. Fans have to comment on the most memorable concert or show they’ve seen at the arena or performance hall to win. A concert featuring Journey and Heart at the arena on Aug. 25 is one of three events being offered this quarter.

“We thought we were behind,” said Rich MacKeigan, SMG regional general manager, on promoting the buildings virtually. “But we’re actually doing pretty well.”

Some pure sentiments

AdAge.com posted a story that quoted veteran actor Tim Allen as saying that the work he’s most proud of is his voice-over contribution to the award-winning Pure Michigan tourism campaign. Allen has served as the voice of the state in ad agency McCann Erickson’s campaign touting the virtues of Michigan as a vacation destination. “It’s a great state, and there are great people,” said Allen, who still has a home in Michigan. “The spots were so well-written. This team at McCann Erickson who wrote these were remarkable, and the imagery was great, and I was really taken by it.”

Charged up for jobs

Gov. Jennifer Granholm may have been a bit premature in her announcement last week regarding fortu PowerCell expanding into West Michigan. While the battery technology operation may be considering West Michigan, there’s no ink on paper that says it will happen.

“The governor has been prospecting in Europe and obviously successfully so. There are two companies considering Michigan, one in particular, considering a potential, potential location in West Michigan,” said Birgit Klohs, president of The Right Place Inc.

“The final decision has not been made, but everybody is working very hard to put the appropriate incentive package together and find them the right space, and we certainly hope that one day in the not-to-distant future, we can make an announcement that says they’ve actually made the decision.”

Klohs said she hopes the early announcement by the governor does not jeopardize the chances of the company, which Granholm indicated would build a battery pack manufacturing facility, moving here.

“We’re going on the premise that the governor had terrific meetings and we’re working very hard to make it happen.”

A date for a move, if the deal does go through, is too difficult to pinpoint at this time, she said.

“It’s always hard to say until they’ve actually made the decision,” said Klohs. “We have to put the right package together, find them the best location, but everybody’s working very hard on this.”

When asked about the impact to West Michigan the potential deal could have, she responded by saying “It is a very large prospect. … Everybody would recognize the name.”

Who will opt out, after all?

When shareholders of the largest doctors’ group in West Michigan agreed last week to join Spectrum Health as a subsidiary, one of the first questions that came to mind is how many of the doctors will end up selling their shares and venturing out on their own group-making endeavors, as has commonly been the case for years in the local health market.

The sometimes for-profit Michigan Medical PC is expected to become part of the area’s largest nonprofit health care system as of Aug. 1. The Spectrum Health board of directors approved a resolution late last month, while MMPC’s 169 shareholders considered the agreement last week. The plan calls for MMPC to integrate into the Spectrum Health Medical Group over the next five years.

The joint statement said terms are confidential, but earlier, MMPC Chairman Dr. John MacKeigan told the Business Journal that each shareholder would receive $10,000 plus compensation for the multi-million investment made over the past several years in an Epic computer system.

With a myriad of agreements, contracts and collaborations between the two organizations, patient care is not expected to be impacted.

MMPC has more than 300 doctors, physicians’ assistants, nurse practitioners, nurses and other health care providers working in 30 specialties and primary care.

The move is a considerable boost for the Spectrum Health Medical Group, which was conceived as a Mayo Clinic-style subsidiary of Spectrum Health.

CEO indicators stabilize

The Conference Board Measure of CEO Confidence, which had increased in the first quarter of 2009, surged in the second quarter. The measure improved to 55, up from 30 last quarter. (A reading of more than 50 points reflects more positive than negative responses.).

“CEOs are considerably more optimistic than last time about the short-term outlook; however, their assessment of current conditions, while also improved, suggests the economy remains weak,” said Lynn Franco, director of The Conference Board Consumer Research Center. “Among those expecting an increase in profits over the next year, the majority see cost reductions as the primary driver.”

The CEOs’ assessment of current economic conditions was considerably less pessimistic. Now, 32 percent claim conditions have improved compared to six months ago, up from zero percent last quarter. Looking ahead six months, CEOs are much more optimistic. Nearly 55 percent expect economic conditions to improve in the next six months, up from approximately 17 percent last quarter. Expectations for the CEOs’ own industries were also more optimistic.

Global outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. also issued a report indicating turnover among chief executive officers was virtually unchanged in June, as 105 CEOs announced their departures during the month. That was slightly fewer than the 115 who left their posts in May.

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