Why We Succeed, Or Fail

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Learn more about the science of success with Heidi Grant Halvorson’s HBR Single, based on this blog post.

Why have you been so successful in reaching some of your goals, but not others? If you aren’t sure, you are far from alone in your confusion. It turns out that even brilliant, highly accomplished people are pretty lousy when it comes to understanding why they succeed or fail. The intuitive answer — that you are born predisposed to certain talents and lacking in others — is really just one small piece of the puzzle. In fact, decades of research on achievement suggests that successful people reach their goals not simply because of who they are, but more often because of what they do.

1. Get specific. When you set yourself a goal, try to be as specific as possible. “Lose 5 pounds” is a better goal than “lose some weight,” because it gives you a clear idea of what success looks like. Knowing exactly what you want to achieve keeps you motivated until you get there. Also, think about the specific actions that need to be taken to reach your goal. Just promising you’ll “eat less” or “sleep more” is too vague — be clear and precise. “I’ll be in bed by 10pm on weeknights” leaves no room for doubt about what you need to do, and whether or not you’ve actually done it.

2. Seize the moment to act on your goals.
Given how busy most of us are, and how many goals we are juggling at once, it’s not surprising that we routinely miss opportunities to act on a goal because we simply fail to notice them. Did you really have no time to work out today? No chance at any point to return that phone call? Achieving your goal means grabbing hold of these opportunities before they slip through your fingers.

To seize the moment, decide when and where you will take each action you want to take, in advance. Again, be as specific as possible (e.g., “If it’s Monday, Wednesday, or Friday, I’ll work out for 30 minutes before work.”) Studies show that this kind of planning will help your brain to detect and seize the opportunity when it arises, increasing your chances of success by roughly 300%.

3. Know exactly how far you have left to go. Achieving any goal also requires honest and regular monitoring of your progress — if not by others, then by you yourself. If you don’t know how well you are doing, you can’t adjust your behavior or your strategies accordingly. Check your progress frequently — weekly, or even daily, depending on the goal.

4. Be a realistic optimist.
When you are setting a goal, by all means engage in lots of positive thinking about how likely you are to achieve it. Believing in your ability to succeed is enormously helpful for creating and sustaining your motivation. But whatever you do, don’t underestimate how difficult it will be to reach your goal. Most goals worth achieving require time, planning, effort, and persistence. Studies show that thinking things will come to you easily and effortlessly leaves you ill-prepared for the journey ahead, and significantly increases the odds of failure.

5. Focus on getting better, rather than being good.
Believing you have the ability to reach your goals is important, but so is believing you can get the ability. Many of us believe that our intelligence, our personality, and our physical aptitudes are fixed — that no matter what we do, we won’t improve. As a result, we focus on goals that are all about proving ourselves, rather than developing and acquiring new skills.

Fortunately, decades of research suggest that the belief in fixed ability is completely wrong — abilities of all kinds are profoundly malleable. Embracing the fact that you can change will allow you to make better choices, and reach your fullest potential. People whose goals are about getting better, rather than being good, take difficulty in stride, and appreciate the journey as much as the destination.

6. Have grit.
Grit is a willingness to commit to long-term goals, and to persist in the face of difficulty. Studies show that gritty people obtain more education in their lifetime, and earn higher college GPAs. Grit predicts which cadets will stick out their first grueling year at West Point. In fact, grit even predicts which round contestants will make it to at the Scripps National Spelling Bee.

The good news is, if you aren’t particularly gritty now, there is something you can do about it. People who lack grit more often than not believe that they just don’t have the innate abilities successful people have. If that describes your own thinking …. well, there’s no way to put this nicely: you are wrong. As I mentioned earlier, effort, planning, persistence, and good strategies are what it really takes to succeed. Embracing this knowledge will not only help you see yourself and your goals more accurately, but also do wonders for your grit.

7. Build your willpower muscle. Your self-control “muscle” is just like the other muscles in your body — when it doesn’t get much exercise, it becomes weaker over time. But when you give it regular workouts by putting it to good use, it will grow stronger and stronger, and better able to help you successfully reach your goals.

To build willpower, take on a challenge that requires you to do something you’d honestly rather not do. Give up high-fat snacks, do 100 sit-ups a day, stand up straight when you catch yourself slouching, try to learn a new skill. When you find yourself wanting to give in, give up, or just not bother — don’t. Start with just one activity, and make a plan for how you will deal with troubles when they occur (“If I have a craving for a snack, I will eat one piece of fresh or three pieces of dried fruit.”) It will be hard in the beginning, but it will get easier, and that’s the whole point. As your strength grows, you can take on more challenges and step-up your self-control workout.

8. Don’t tempt fate. No matter how strong your willpower muscle becomes, it’s important to always respect the fact that it is limited, and if you overtax it you will temporarily run out of steam. Don’t try to take on two challenging tasks at once, if you can help it (like quitting smoking and dieting at the same time). And don’t put yourself in harm’s way — many people are overly-confident in their ability to resist temptation, and as a result they put themselves in situations where temptations abound. Successful people know not to make reaching a goal harder than it already is.

9. Focus on what you will do, not what you won’t do. Do you want to successfully lose weight, quit smoking, or put a lid on your bad temper? Then plan how you will replace bad habits with good ones, rather than focusing only on the bad habits themselves. Research on thought suppression (e.g., “Don’t think about white bears!”) has shown that trying to avoid a thought makes it even more active in your mind. The same holds true when it comes to behavior — by trying not to engage in a bad habit, our habits get strengthened rather than broken.

If you want to change your ways, ask yourself, What will I do instead? For example, if you are trying to gain control of your temper and stop flying off the handle, you might make a plan like “If I am starting to feel angry, then I will take three deep breaths to calm down.” By using deep breathing as a replacement for giving in to your anger, your bad habit will get worn away over time until it disappears completely.

It is my hope that, after reading about the nine things successful people do differently, you have gained some insight into all the things you have been doing right all along. Even more important, I hope are able to identify the mistakes that have derailed you, and use that knowledge to your advantage from now on. Remember, you don’t need to become a different person to become a more successful one. It’s never what you are, but what you do.

Heidi Grant Halvorson, Ph.D. is a motivational psychologist, and author of the new book Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals (Hudson Street Press, 2011). She is also an expert blogger on motivation and leadership for Fast Company and Psychology Today. Her personal blog, The Science of Success, can be found at www.heidigranthalvorson.com. Follow her on Twitter @hghalvorson

Posted via email from Local Andy

>Newspapers:The good, and the future of journalism, part one

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At the beginning of March, California’s Los Angeles Times joined a scrum of US newspapers that decided paywalls would be the press’ salvation. But the mighty Pulitzer Prize-winning paper is no longer the press it once was.

Starting in the sixties and peaking in the nineties and early 2000s, the Los Angeles Times would win a clutch of journalism’s most prestigious awards, but then came the ‘deals from hell’ and the paper became a sinking ship. Heads rolled and editors left as the men in suits ruthlessly cut jobs at the paper to safeguard investor interests.

“I’ve been trying for days to quit the Times, but I cannot seem to do it. In the first place, every time I announce I’m leaving, a more senior editor ups and quits and grabs all the attention, and, in the second place, I do not know anymore who my editor is, who the editor is, who the publisher is, and who owns the company. I think it’s the Chicago Tribune, although that might not be the case, either, by the end of the day, since the paper is for sale, or being auctioned,” writer Richard Cohen wrote in a column for Slate.

“I walk the halls with my resignation in my hands. It is a brief document, rather nicely written, I think, but either I cannot find anyone to read it or those who do simply shrug, say something like, ‘Get in line,’ or, because they are in the Internet or TV section of the company, cannot read at all. I mean, they’re functionally literate, if words like ‘functionality’ can be considered literate, but they never get the meaning of things. All they ever say is, ‘Reboot, reboot’.”

But let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. Good parables like this should be told from the very beginning, because they serve as exemplars of how journalistic excellence can be screwed by greed. Once upon a time many of the great American newspapers were owned by private families.

The New York Times, for example, is still run by the offspring of Adolph Ochs, an intellectual-cum-refugee-cum-printers apprentice who ended up buying the paper in 1896. The Ochs Sulzberger family is said to be traditional, and treat The New York Times as the clan’s “reason to exist, initiating younger members in its ways and holding gatherings to discuss it”.

Similarly, the LA Times became successful under the editorship of Harrison Gray Otis in the 1800s. After his death, a family – the Chandlers – were the newspaper’s publishers for generations. The sixties were a golden era for the newspaper when Otis Chandler believed that the newsroom was “the heartbeat of the business”. This ideal saw the publisher reinvest in quality journalism, bagging four Pulitzers, more than it had won in almost a hundred years.

But trouble started brewing in 2000 when the Chandlers decided to sell their centurial company the Tribune Company for $8.3-billion plus some cash, stocks and a few seats on the board. Respected media critic for The New Yorker, Ken Auletta, kept a careful eye on the deal saying that initially the Times’ newsroom in Los Angeles welcomed the new owners, but that this enthusiasm soon gave way to embarrassment.

The reason for the shame was “a special edition of the Times’ Sunday magazine devoted” to the opening of the Staples Centre, a sports and entertainment arena with which the newspapers’ publishers had negotiated a profit-sharing plan. “The arrangement, which was kept secret from the paper’s editor until shortly before publication, gave Staples half the advertising revenues for this supposedly independent journalistic enterprise. The Times and its top management had been humiliated,” Auletta wrote.

Tension grew between the Los Angeles Times’ editor, John S. Carroll, and the new owners. Eventually the newsman who had helped the newspaper win 13 Pulitzer Prizes left in 2005. Caroll confided in Auletta that he was tired of the Tribune Company’s “incessant cost-cutting”.

“He believed that, on the contrary, investing in the newspaper would eventually produce higher profits, which was what the company eagerly sought, and that cutting costs, while it would temporarily improve the bottom line, would erode the paper and might someday destroy it. Carroll and the Tribune Company had been arguing about these issues for five years. The resolution would now be left to his successor.”

That successor was Dean Baquet who was Carroll’s second-in-command, but he was forced out very soon after defying orders from the Tribune’s money-men to cut costs by cutting jobs. In the five years since Tribune took over, the Times had chopped the paper’s talent by over 20%. Baquet said no more and was out the door, and in came James O’Shea. No prizes for guessing what happened to O’Shea. He left two years later in 2008 after refusing to slash the newsroom’s budget. With the revolving editorial door turning non-stop, the Los Angeles Times’ circulation plummeted. 

However, O’Shea would get his own back by writing a book about the Tribune Company called The Deal From Hell: How Moguls and Wall Street Plundered Great American Newspapers. O’Shea wrote: “Like a lot of people at the time, I was willing to try something, anything, other than what we were doing, which was to just keep cutting costs as the products became less and less appealing to our readers.”

When it comes to laying blame for the destruction of papers like the Los Angeles Times, O’Shea is more than frank. “The lack of investment, the greed, the incompetence, corruption, hypocrisy and downright arrogance of people who put their interests ahead of the public’s are responsible for the state of the newspaper industry today,” his book reads.

More pain was pending for the Los Angeles Times, and it arrived in December 2007 in the form of a foul-mouthed, brutish real estate billionaire called Sam Zell. Like many of the moguls who destroy media companies, Zell had never owned a newspaper in his life, but this didn’t deter him from setting his sights on the Tribune.

Photo: Sam Zell. REUTERS/Fred Prouser.

A lack of media experience only served to embolden Zell who positioned himself as an “expert” in journalism from the get-go. “I’m sick and tired of listening to everybody talk about and commiserating about the end of newspapers. They ain’t ended. And they’re not going to be,” Zell lamented at a press conference to announce the deal, which he labelled “a very low-risk investment”.

Zell’s master plan was to put himself at the helm of the company and take the Tribune Company private with the help of an employee stock purchase plan. However, unlike all his real estate deals, Zell didn’t risk much of his own money, although he did share the risk of the take-over with all the company’s employees. Very soon Tribune was $13-billion in debt.

And then there’s the management “talent” Zell brought to the party. There are wonderful anecdotes about the “talent” Zell hired to help run his new media company. People like Randy Michaels who shortly after the Zell buy-out tried to impress his new colleagues at Tribune by offering a waitress at a hotel $100 to show him her breasts.

The Tribune Company went broke almost a year to the day after Zell had acquired it. But Zell did make news for helping create what is the biggest bankruptcy in US media history. These and other debacles that have beset US journalism are part of the reason why some media are eschewing the “attraction” of public listings and bonehead management like Zell and Michaels to create non-profits. The other reason is that good investigative journalism has been seriously affected by the recession and the fall-out from journalism that serves the church of the shareholder.

ProPublica is a sterling example of this. Enabled by an endowment from Golden West Financial, some of those fine folks who gave the US the subprime crisis, ProPublica writes big, important stories and gives them away to the likes of The New York Times for free. The outfit is run by a journalism supremo, one Paul Steiger, a former Wall Street Journal senior editor whose tenure there realised 16 Pulitzer Prizes.

But let’s go back to the Tribune, the owners of the Los Angeles Times, a company that former editor O’Shea says has leaders that put profits before Pulitzers. “Instead of developing strategies to produce the kind of content that would protect their most important asset — the public trust — they depreciated it like an aging Linotype.”

Since Tribune declared bankruptcy in December 2008 it has racked up well over $233.3-million in legal fees, after a class action suit was brought against the company’s employees because of Zell’s “very low-risk investment”.

Last December the Los Angeles Times lost yet another editor who, after cutting the paper’s staff from 900 to about 550, could take no more. Sam Zell remains one of the richest men in the US and made the Forbes’ rich list yet again last year with a net worth of $4.7-billion.

And, the Los Angeles Times’ pay wall plans? Do you think this is going to turn things around for the paper?

Ask yourself whether the Los Angeles Times is the kind of newspaper you’d invest in so that you might read it on your iPad? We both know the answer to that question. DM

[The next instalment looks at those good guys of journalism, the Guardian. Unlike other newspapers whose profits are sucked out of operations by shareholders, The Guardian reinvests profits to “sustain journalism that is free from commercial or political interference”.]

Read more:

  • Sam Zell Blames Tribune Failure on ‘Greedy’ Journalists in Forbes.
  • Tribune Paid Bankruptcy Advisers $233 Million Since Filing for Protection in Bloomberg.
  • No Exit – One man’s desperate attempt to quit the Los Angeles Times by Richard Cohen in Slate.
  • Los Angeles Times joins the crowd, erects pay wall for the news online in The Christian Science Monitor.

Photo: The vaulted gates to the LA Times. REUTERS/Fred Prouse.

Posted via email from Local Andy

>Procrastination is Essential to Innovation

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This post was co-authored with Bob Moesta, Managing Partner of The Re-Wired Group in Detroit. While it’s written from my perspective, he was central to the development of the idea.

“How’s your book launch coming?” Bob asked me.

“Ugh. I don’t want to talk about my book. Can’t we just dive into working on another post about progress?” I said, trying to avoid my towering pre-publication checklist.

“Sure, Whitney. But if you’re going to write about progress, you might want to make some.”

Okay. Bob didn’t actually say that, but he could have. Six months before publication, I found myself skittering off to new ideas rather than attending to the task right in front of me. Why was I procrastinating?, I wondered. Writing a book has been on my bucket list for years. I knew how important it was to have a successful launch, yet here I was doing nothing.

So with Bob’s help, I started to analyze what was happening within the framework of our theoretical Equation of Progress. We would examine my stalled plans in order to better understand how people make progress, and more specifically, what leads us to innovate.

We had hypothesized that progress could only be made if the push of a situation (a frustration or problem to be solved) and the pull of an enticing new idea were greater than the forces holding us back — our allegiance to past behavior (the status quo) and anxiety.

Certainly, I had experienced a “pull” to write the book. Dare, Dream, Do was inspired by my interactions with people who weren’t sure they had a dream, or worse, who didn’t believe it was their privilege to dream. And there was obviously a “push” because I finished writing the book. Deadlines are good that way. But the prospect of now tackling a lengthy punch list — build a website, create a speaker’s sheet, film a speaker’s reel, record an audio Q&A, finalize/plead for blurbs, finalize copy edits, write an e-book to accompany the book — obscured my vision of a future where readers would hold the book in their hands and be inspired to dream. The eventual payoff of completing these tasks wasn’t immediately enticing enough to overcome my present inertia, i.e. allegiance to the status quo. No wonder I wasn’t making progress.

That all changed when anxiety kicked in about at four months to pub date. I had always thought of procrastination as a bad actor, anxiety even worse. But in analyzing what I thought were merely stall tactics, I’ve come to realize that the anxiety caused by procrastination is actually a critical component to innovation. Research supports this. Anxiety, in the right quantities, can propel us forward. According to the Journal of Management, NASA scientists and engineers found that performance increases as deadlines shorten, but when the deadlines became too short, performance declined. Dr. Ellen F. Weber, award-winning founder of Mita Brain Center, states: “while frustration or fear can flood the brain with cortisol, if anxiety is managed properly, anticipation can produce that feel-good dopamine that primes the pump of progress, or innovation.” In other words, as the deadline neared, my apprehension around the to-do list actually wasn’t just outweighed by the pull of the commitments I’d made to my editor, publicist, and to myself, the anxiety per se helped increase the pull.

The innovations, or newly introduced ideas and methods, that have emerged from my anxiety around the book launch include:

1) View the book as a product. I realized my anxiety was caused, in part, by the unfamiliar experience of launching a book. By reframing it as being analogous to launching a business, I talked myself down. I’ve never published a book before, but I have incubated businesses. When you’re overwhelmed by a new project, look to your past for similar problems you’ve already solved. Just as a business model is required to maximize the reach of a simplifying technology, so too is a business model required to maximize the reach of a book. Looking at the book as a product has helped me lock into great ideas and energized my efforts.

2) Write my way through the launch. Just as scientists meticulously record daily findings to ensure that each experiment is replicable and accurate conclusions are drawn, I realized I could write about my experience of publishing a book. Dissecting the process and hoping that my experience may be helpful to others has turned out to be powerful motivator (and a source of content for my blog). When you can zoom out and view your experience in the abstract, you create the necessary distance to be objective about your own performance. In essence, you give yourself a general’s panorama of the battlefield rather than the limited view of a foot solider. Vision is essential for innovation.

3) Collaborate — and accept the help of others. Though I’ve written about the importance of collaboration, I struggle to do it well, and even more so to receive help. The anxiety factor has pushed me to reach out, something I might not have been willing to do previously. I’ve found fantastic partners who have enriched my efforts with their resources and granted me access to specialized knowledge that will strengthen my “product.” Sometimes anxiety can be the tool that forces us past imagined boundaries into a brave new world of possibility.

As I have begun to innovate, to introduce new ideas and ways of doing things, frustration and anxiety have given way to the anticipation of my book selling. In hindsight, it’s easy to think that progress is a simple left to right beeline, rather than something approximating a Wild West duel between you, and you. It’s also tempting to glorify “push” (the problem to be solved) and “pull” (the exciting new idea) as the forces of progress we laud in entrepreneurs. But sometimes your weaknesses (procrastination and anxiety) may actually be the “red-hot coal stuck in the throat” that summons your superpowers. Or as Bob Moesta writes, “The moment of struggle is the defining act of innovation.” So, the next time you want to move your business or you forward, consider the role all four variables play, but then look to the bottom line: put your anxiety to work and innovate.


To think more about the four variables involved in progress, consider reading:

Push
Why I’m Glad Sheryl Sandberg Isn’t On Facebook’s Board

Pull
The Essence of a Great Presentation

Allegiance to the Past

Battling Entitlement, the Innovation Killer

Anxiety
The Long of Coming Up Short

Posted via email from Local Andy

>How to Turn an Obstacle into an Asset

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A popular post on this site, Nine Things Successful People Do Differently, provides a fabulous summary of what makes the difference between those who succeed and those who don’t. But, in our experience, it misses one really important “thing’: Successful people habitually turn obstacles into assets.

People who succeed at work and in life believe and act as if “everything is a gift.” Well, maybe not every single thing imaginable. But assuming that everything is a gift is a good way of looking at the problems and surprises you’ll encounter in any endeavor, such as, for example, in getting a new venture off the ground, obtaining buy-in with your boss, or launching a new product line in an ultra-competitive market.

Why should you react to a problem with gratitude, whether you are trying to start a business or create anything else? There are a number of reasons.

First, you were going to find out eventually what people did and did not like about your idea. Better to learn it as soon as possible, before you sink more resources into the idea, venture or product line, etc.

Second, the feedback could take you in another direction, or serve as a barrier to your competitors. You thought you wanted to open a restaurant, but a quick survey told you potential customers thought the area was saturated. But more than a few of them said they would love a place that simply had ready-to-go take out to heat up at home.

Third, you got evidence. True, it was not what you were expecting or even wanted, but that still puts you ahead of the person who is just thinking about doing something (like opening a restaurant in your neighborhood.) You know something they don’t, and that is an asset. You are ahead of the game.

But what if it’s really bad news. It’s a disappointment. You were absolutely certain that your boss would approve your idea for a new software program, and she said no in a way that is still echoing down the corridor. No reasonable person can define what you’ve encountered as anything but a problem, and most people will try to solve the problem. (“Maybe she will like the idea if I go at it this way instead.”) That’s fine if you can. The problem has gone away and, again, you’ve learned something that others might not know. (The boss hates Y, but she loves Z.)

But what if you can’t solve it? (She hated “Z,” too.) Accept the situation to the point of embracing it. Take as a given that it won’t ever change, and turn it into an asset. What can you do with the “fact” that it won’t ever change? Maybe it presents a heretofore unseen opportunity. Maybe you build it into your product or service in a way that no competitor (having not acted) could imagine. Could you do it on your own? Could you take the idea to a competitor and use it as your calling card to look for the next job? Instead of resisting and lamenting it, treat it as a gift and turn it to your advantage.

For a quick exercise showing that this is easier than you think, take a sheet of paper and divide it into three columns. In the left-hand column, list the obstacles and problems that are keeping you from your goal. Then spend five minutes figuring out as many ways as possible to solve these problems, and list those in the middle column. Show your list of problems and solutions to a friend, and ask them to build on your solutions. When you can’t think of anymore solutions, go back to the list of problems in the left-hand column and assume that they can’t ever be solved. Now take five minutes with your friend and figure out how those problems could be an asset or an unrecognized opportunity. Put these assets in the right-hand column. Chances are good that, having completed this exercise, you’ll turn at least one of your obstacles into an asset.

The thing to remember is this: Successful people work with what they have at hand — whatever comes along — and try to use everything at their disposal in achieving their goals. And that is why they are grateful for surprises, obstacles, and even disappointments. It gives them more information and resources to draw upon.

Posted via email from Local Andy

>Packers help lead Green Bay into Digital

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The football season was looking great for the Green Bay Packers. The 2011 Super Bowl champions finished the regular season with 15 wins and one loss, only to lose in the playoffs last month to this year’s Super Bowl champions the New York Giants.

Many tears were shed in Titletown, but likely not too many among Green Bay’s biggest digital media players. True they would have profited from a Super Bowl bout — Gannett-owned local newspaper Green Bay Press Gazette’s website, GreenBayPressGazette.com, and its micro site PackersNews.com, had 6 million more page views in January 2011 than in the year prior period. But the sheer presence of a major NFL franchise in Green Bay, Wis., has been a big win for digital advertising providers playing in a market of its size.

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In terms of population, the Green Bay-Appleton market is the 69th largest DMA in the country, according to Nielsen. But in terms of digital spending, it actually ranks at No. 58, fueled by a strong league of Packer-backers, digital ad-embracing recreational businesses, as well as a solid auto dealer market. For the Gannett-owned Press Gazette, digital advertising actually makes up nearly 20% of its overall ad revenue, said Advertising Manager James Maurer.

“Being in a small market with a national football franchise gives us a different flavor,” suggested Dana VanDen Heuvel, president of Green Bay-based digital marketing consultancy Marketing Savant. “We’re obviously smaller, but at the end of the day there’s a little innovation going on and opportunity to experiment.”

The digital advertising market as a whole is above the curve in Green Bay, but some areas are still behind. Most noticeably, spending share in Green Bay towards streaming video ads is 4.6% less compared to the national average (the fact that only two local TV news players dominate the online media market could be a factor, Larry Shaw, VP of research for Borrell Associates, suggested).

Yet Green Bay is excelling in terms of behavioral targeting, with a local share of spending 4.3% higher than the national average. At $9.2 million in 2011, spending is expected to reach $89.4 million in 2016, a significant 868.2% increase.

“The Green Bay market is more focused on local advertisers,” Shaw said. “The smaller business market can afford to do that targeted ad instead of the old method of advertising. A local restaurant doesn’t want to reach as many people as possible, it wants to reach as many people in the area that are likely to go to the restaurant.”

According to comScore, the Press Gazette is the area’s digital media champion, scoring a monthly average of 429,500 unique visitors for the year period ending December 2011.

Only two other media players in the market reach comScore’s minimum reporting threshold of 50,000 unique visitors a month, said comScore marketing manager Carmela Aquino.

Fox affiliate WLUK-TV, owned by LIN Television, is at No. 2 with 355,117 average unique visitors a month to its site Fox11Online.com for the year ending last December. Jay Zollar, WLUK’s VP and GM, gives some credit to the station’s “balanced news” brand, directly inspired by cable news leader Fox News.

Coming in third is WBAY-TV, a local ABC affiliate owned by Young Broadcasting.

WBAY.com received a monthly average of 223,500 unique visitors for the 10-month period ending last December. (Aquino explained that WBAY used a different reporting methodology for December 2010 and January 2011, so numbers for those months are not comparable. In that same 10-month period, the Press Gazette averaged 428,100 unique monthly visitors and WLUK averaged 353,800 unique monthly visitors.)

The Press Gazette’s site-defining Packers coverage welcomed some digital enhancements for the team’s Super Bowl-winning season. During the playoffs, the Packers’ site featured daily live chats with team reporters, and the entire newsroom contributed to blog about Packer-related happenings in town, such as a local elementary school where students and teachers wore green and gold for the day, said Online Editor Julie Riebe.

For the most recent season, the site posted several videos a week of news conferences and locker room interviews, generating several thousand views each. It also ramped up efforts on an ongoing historic photo gallery project; approximately 2,000 to 2,500 Press Gazette archived photos were preserved and showcased on the site last season, with one gallery alone generating 221,000 page views, Riebe said.

The Press Gazette’s mobile sites underwent a Gannett-designed overhaul in February 2011. “Before they weren’t really that attractive,” Riebe said of the old mobile sites. “Now they’re cleaner, and they’ve made it easier to find features like weather and sports scores, and we’re able to add photo galleries to the mobile sites.”

The sites are also customizable; as an example, the Press Gazette put together a University of Wisconsin sports tab exclusive to its mobile sites. Five months later, Gannett modified the Green Bay sites to resemble the Odyssey template it has rolled out for other properties. “It was an effort to make the sites look cleaner to the reader, to present stories in a better format and to give more presence to photo galleries,” Riebe said.

Posted via email from Local Andy

>Brands Get Physical To Build Trust

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From Fast Company –

From handshakes to hardware, intimate signals constantly affect us in life. As the world becomes increasingly digital, we are losing many sensory signals that once moved us. Here’s what can companies do to reclaim these touching moments.


I’m sure you’ve had the experience of reaching out to shake someone’s hand, only to be surprised by a palm so limp that it feels more like a dead fish than a warm welcome. What was your immediate impression of the person? How, then, did you reassess them? If you thought it indicative of a weak character, you’re onto something.

Some years ago, researchers at the University of Alabama studied 112 male and female students whose handshakes were evaluated by four handshake coders. The coders had received one month of training and practice in shaking hands and evaluating handshakes before the study began. The students, who didn’t know their handshakes were being evaluated, had their hands shaken eight times (twice with all four experimenters) and they also completed four personality questionnaires.

Results of the study, led by Dr. William F. Chaplin, showed that a person’s handshake is consistent over time and is related to some aspects of his or her personality. Those with a firm handshake were more extroverted and open to experience, and less neurotic and shy than those with a less firm or limp handshake. What strikes me is that we are somehow intuitively aware of this personality evaluation filter, where something as simple as a touch significantly influences our decision-making processes.

Having worked with sensory signals throughout my career, I’ve come to appreciate how the smallest sensory details can have the greatest impact. Take, for example, the sound and feel of opening a bottle of water. You’re at least subconsciously familiar with the subtle click of a breaking seal. However, let’s say you’re in India, where the water bottles open silently. When I heard about the absence of the subtle click, I questioned the safety of the water. Apparently I wasn’t alone: I remember reading about a competitive water bottler who took advantage of this, changed the top so that it clicks, and gained a competitive advantage in the water market place. People believe the water is safer.

Signals across almost every aspect of our lives affect us. It’s interesting to note that, as we become increasingly digital, we are losing many sensory signals that once surrounded us. Others, however, often replace these. We’ve come to depend on a whole new set of tones as we key in numbers on an ATM or a cell phone.

In order to investigate just how important our senses are, I initiated a small experiment exploring people’s perception of an unknown brand, based on the type of media where they were introduced to it. I wanted to look at how different media formats convey indirect messages. But, most importantly, I was interested in seeing if the physical presence of a media channel, such as a billboard, would affect a person’s sensory impression of the advertised brand.

Martin Lindstrom is a 2009 recipient of TIME Magazine’s “World’s 100 Most Influential People” and author of Buyology: Truth and Lies About Why We Buy (Doubleday, New York), a New York Times and Wall Street Journal best–seller. His latest book, Brandwashed: Tricks Companies Use to Manipulate Our Minds and Persuade Us to Buy, was published in September. A frequent advisor to heads of numerous Fortune 100 companies, Lindstrom has also authored 5 best-sellers translated into 30 languages. More at martinlindstrom.com.

Posted via email from Local Andy