New year, new opportunity: Let’s get engaged in 2012


There’s something about a new year that inspires renewed determination to succeed — whether it’s quitting smoking, losing weight or, for that matter, increasing profits.

In reality, there’s not a whole lot of difference between Dec. 31 and Jan. 1. But for the same reason we watch intently as an odometer rolls past the inconsequential increment from 99,999 to 100,000, it feels significant to flip open a calendar to a new year. I believe it has everything to do with the prospect of a blank slate, a fresh start … the chance for a do-over.

So, what do you intend to do over in 2012?

For my part, I’ve resolved to more actively engage the readers the Business Times serves, to provide business owners and managers more news, views and advice they can use. I want to supply in a timely and convenient fashion the information they need to make decisions. I want to keep them abreast of developments and trends that affect their operations. In other words, I want to help make their jobs a little easier.

I make this pronouncement in large part because I believe there are opportunities for business owners and managers to engage in return with the Business Times — and to our mutual benefit, because it will help make my job a little easier.

Like any good business, a good business journal doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Rather, a good business journal responds to the needs of its customers, its readers and advertisers. A good business journal offers value for the investment in subscriptions and advertising, not to mention the time involved in reading the publication. The Business Times exists to inform readers, but also to sell advertising as means to reach those readers. It’s a symbiotic relationship: content attracts readers advertisers want to reach. Advertising pays for providing that content.

As editor of a business journal, it’s my responsibility to provide relevant and compelling content that responds to the needs of readers and, in the process, advertisers. After 13 years on the job, I believe I’ve developed a pretty good picture of what readers want, and that’s comprehensive local coverage and plenty of it. Nonetheless, I remain open to suggestion. Moreover, there are always opportunities for continual improvement. And there’s no time quite like the beginning of a new year to get started.

In more actively engaging business owners and managers in 2012, I hope they will engage in return by submitting news releases, story leads and letters to the editor. Comments are welcome, too: certainly if they’re compliments about something I’m doing right, but just as assuredly if they’re complaints about something I’m doing wrong.

Even in an age of Web sites, blogs and tweets, newspapers continue to afford businesses an important means with which to not only connect to customers, but also establish name recognition and credibility.

Have you opened a new business?

Do you offer a new product or service? Have you expanded or relocated your operation? Have you hired a new employee? Then share your news and submit a news release. I set aside four pages in each issue of the Business Times to publish brief stories about businesses and business people.

I’d happily double that allocation to accommodate more stories. What’s more, everything that appears in print also appears online at the Business Times Web site at

It’s easy enough to submit a news release. Just send an e-mail to me or log on to and submit a release online. Try not to get caught up too much in the wording or format of a release. Focus instead on the facts. The old journalist convention of the five Ws still works. Describe the who, what, when, where and why.

Be sure to include contact information, too, preferably both an e-mail address and telephone number. Here’s why: News releases constitute an important source of story leads. Many of the best stories published in the Business Times started out as news release. I didn’t want to just publish the release. I felt compelled to interview those involved, shoot photographs and publish a more thorough account. If I do call for an interview, please respond promptly.

I’ve lost count of the stories I haven’t published because a business owner or manager wouldn’t return a phone call.

It kind of defeats the purpose, doesn’t it?

There are many other opportunities to engage the Business Times during the coming year. In addition to sharing your news, share your views. I welcome letters to the editor and guest columns on business-related topics. If there’s something that’s making you mad as hell, don’t just take it anymore. Vent. Comments are just as welcome on the Web site. It’s my sincere hope the Business Times affords a venue for meaningful conversations about business issues.

The new year brings with it new opportunities, a chance to engage in activities that lead to success. I plan to make the most of 2012. I invite the Grand Valley business community I so proudly serve to do the same.