Asheville: Inspiration In The Air
By Den Gardner, Executive Director
Inspiration? Maybe it's a word communicators created to give themselves something to feel important about when they write or speak about something they consider relevant or desired by their readers. JUST KIDDING! But I can say with certainty that the air in Asheville and the Smokey Mountains did inspire TOCA members at one of its best meetings in the organization's 22 years.
Thanks to the work of the program committee Lacy Ravencraft, Christina Schave and Tom Mentzer we were inspired for parts of three days the singers not withstanding on Thursday evening.
And the Grove Park Inn? With visits from the past 10 U.S. presidents, TOCA can say it was the three-day home to five presidents and one current president of OUR organization.
TOCA's theme Inspiration In The Air -- aptly described the mood of the meeting. And what exactly inspired us?
- How about two sustainability panels which opened our eyes to many questions about its meaning to readers, constituents, customers and others? Thanks to Lacy Ravencraft for putting together trade associations and manufacturers to discuss how sustainability initiatives are affecting organizations.
- Ann Wylie of Wylie Communications enlightened us on how to better communicate with our various audiences. In today's 24/7 hectic communications lifestyle, we learned how to deliver messages succinctly and with impact! Did you notice that's two sentences each under 21 words?
- Tracy Panko's ROI metrics on social media found an audience yearning for useful information to reach all generations. The future for active brand marketing using social media is bright, but companies must set goals to measure value.
- The editor/PR panel (resurrected after a three-year absence) of Scott Hollister, Chuck Bowen, Ron Hall, Lynnette Von Minden and Christina Schave (who also served as moderator) joined the audience in a lively question and answer session that could have lasted much longer. The blend of the young and not so young on the panel livened up the discussion.
- The Biltmore Estates? As one attendee aptly described the visit: "A wonderful experience for everybody. The fascination with the property was a wonder to behold."
"This was most definitely the best meeting I've attended - both from a member group in attendance and an educational standpoint," said Christina Schave of Two Rivers Marketing.
Thanks a ton!
Golf, Tour Wednesday Morning
Golfers braved the chilly early-morning weather at the golf club, but by mid-morning the sun was up and the scores were too! Through it all, the team of Jeff Cull, Tom Delaney and the Gardner brothers squeezed in at even par to win the tournament. But everyone was a winner including second place finishers Pat Roberts, Kevin Stoltman, Dan Jacobs and Seth Jones. And finishing third was the team of Pat Jones, Mike Zawacki, Scott Hollister and Chuck Bowen.
Meanwhile, back at the Biltmore, the lead horticulturalist Parker Andes took the group through a two-hour tour, followed by another hour to ramble through the largest house (if you could call it that!) in the U.S. TOCA members may not have gotten to all 250 rooms, but they got a great flavor for the original summer home of the Vanderbilt family. Members were then treated to lunch at Deerpark Restaurant.
Other Wednesday Highlights
Wednesday's program started with opening remarks from then Board President Jared Bodnar and a review of the program.
TOCA then named Anthony Williams, director of grounds for Stone Mountain Golf Club in Stone Mountain, GA, as the 2011 TOCA Environmental Communicator of the Year. Williams was the 13th recipient of this award, sponsored by Project EverGreen.
"It is a milestone that is both humbling and motivating as I hold such admiration for the individuals and organizations that sponsor and support this award and the mission it represents," Williams said. He thanked those who influenced his life in teaching the values of environmental stewardship.
Previous winners of the award include Mark Welterlen, Grounds Maintenance magazine; Bill Love, W.R. Love Golf Architecture; Tim Doppel, Atwood Lawncare, Inc.; Doug Fender, Turf Producers International; Allen James, RISE; Ron Dodson, Audubon International; Jeff Gullickson, Spokane Country Club, Spokane, Wash.; Kevin Trotta, Grounds Manager & Turfgrass IPM Specialist, North Rockland Central School District, Cornwall, N.., Helen Stone, publisher of Southwest Trees & Turf and President of Stone Peak Services, a consortium of the allied golf associations of Colorado, which created a study on the economic and environmental impact of golf in Colorado, Drs. Larry Stowell and Wendy Gelernter of PACE Turf, and Chris Gray, previously of Marvel Golf Club in Kentucky.
The opening night reception, moved indoors because of the unseasonably cool weather, featured great guitar music and a wide variety of excellent food.
A full day of terrific professional development followed on Thursday, thanks to Wylie, Panko and the editor/PR panel.
The afternoon program on Thursday concluded with the business meeting and award presentations for our most recent scholarship winner. Business meeting highlights included:
1. Election of the board. A new officer slate was elected. They include: McGavock Edward, new board president; Margaret Bell, vice president; Lacy Ravencraft, new secretary-treasurer; and Jared Bodnar, who moves from board president to past president. New directors are Linda Frerichs, Linda Beattie, Scott Hollister, Chuck Bowen and Brian Schoenthaler. Re-elected to the board were directors Debbie Clayton, Jason Schmaderer, Cindy Code, Felicia Gillham, Ron Hall, John Reitman, Christina Schave, and Tom Mentzer.
2. TOCA's annual revenue for 2011 will be approximately $106,000, with expenses estimated at about $105,000. In addition, TOCA maintains a healthy investment portfolio of approximately $83,500, up from $80,000 a year ago.
3. The 2012 meeting will be in Nashville. The 2013 meeting will be in Portland, Denver or Austin.
4. The TOCA writing, photography and design contests had 318 entries this year, a slight increase from last year. In addition to some categories reflecting new media, the board will look at re-vamping the photography, video and multimedia section of the program for 2012.
5. The GCSAA Breakfast reception at the Golf Industry Show (GIS) in Orlando was again held in February on a Wednesday, a change because of the new format for the show, which includes a two-day trade show instead of three. The same format will take place in 2012 in Las Vegas on Feb. 29.
6. The Green Industry and Equipment Expo breakfast reception is scheduled for Friday, Oct. 28, 7:30 a.m., in Louisville. Bayer is the sponsor of this breakfast.
7. The board agreed to continue its contribution to Project EverGreen, at the $2,500 level. This national alliance of end-user associations, companies and Green Industry suppliers educates and inform consumers about the benefits of well-maintained green spaces. TOCA publications and agencies donated $150,000 of space and pro bono services to Project EverGreen in 2010.
8. TOCA moved to an online directory in 2011, thanks to sponsorship from Bobcat. The directory comes out in December of each year. It contains the association's membership, Bylaws and constitution and other important information about the association.
9. The 2011 Publishers' Scholarship winner is Anna McIntyre of the University of Georgia. She's studying for a career in public policy, education and, ultimately, to own her own greenhouse and landscape business. She will graduate in May 2013 with a degree in ag communication and education with a horticulture minor.
10. TOCA has officially started a mentoring program and announced it in Asheville. It is being led by Debbie Clayton and Felicia Gillham. Thus far, these are the TOCA mentors: Larry Aylward, Dan Jacobs, Billy R. Sims, Steve Trusty, McGavock Edwards, Polly Moter, Jason Schmaderer and Den Gardner. Please contact the TOCA office if you want to become a mentor or want to be mentored by one of these seasoned communicators.
11. The membership voted to change the TOCA bylaws to allow for board members to consider attendance at board meetings permissible by teleconference.
Syngenta Awards Banquet
To close out the 2011 meeting, the Syngenta Awards Banquet was another raucous affair, with excellent food and drink, surrounded by a slide show commemorating this year's award winners. Thanks to the leadership of Christina Schave of Two Rivers Marketing, a masterful job was accomplished on the awards program. Thanks to Barb in the office for publishing the annual meeting program.
So, the 2011 TOCA annual meeting is history. I want to especially thank Barb for her tireless preparation work prior to and during the meeting. I also wants to thank my evil twin Dan for assisting with logistics.
TOCA thanks all of its sponsors for making the meeting possible. And remember, TOCA meetings always look to the future. While we enjoy the camaraderie, appreciate the personal networking time you can't get done at other trade shows, and enhance your professional skills through our workshops and be recognized for your communications skills through our contests, TOCA will always be about our family of editorial and marketing professionals. A little dysfunctional, but isn't every family?
Photo slide show of annual meeting is here
Inspired Yet Again
By McGavock Edwards
A North Carolina native, I've always been inspired by my home state's landscape from the coast's salty marshes to the Blue Ridge Mountains' fall foliage. I learned early in my professional career that these were the places I could go for solitude and relaxation when I needed a break from a hectic work life.
But, at this year's TOCA annual meeting, I was reminded that those rugged "hills" to my west could not only give me a reprieve, but also inspire me to be more. To work smarter. To learn new things. To look at my job differently. To commit my all.
Sure, the Grove Park Inn's spa was nice. And the views from my room were breathtaking. But, what really jazzed me were the people I was able to learn from this year from those whom I've never met, to those I've known for close to 10 years now.
Not a golfer, I opted for the Biltmore tour this year. And, yes, I was blown away by the beautiful gardens and the heavenly home. But what really inspired me was our tour guide. The head horticulturist at Biltmore was so enthusiastic about his job, and believed so deeply in preserving Olmstead's original landscape intent, he made a non-gardener (me) excited about ornamentals! And, as he took us through his jobsite, he reminded me that no matter what your job is it's most rewarding when you put your whole heart into it and truly believe in the value of what you're doing.
This year's professional development line-up was spectacular as well. The Sustainability Practice at IMRE is mostly focused on the building industry, so the concerted look into our Green Industry was well appreciated by my team. It was exciting to hear the varied views on this critical topic from our allied associations' issues and opportunities to the practical applications our manufacturers, distributors, contractors and equipment providers are taking. This was the second year for a "themed" portion of the professional development and I say, "bravo."
Day two brought even more inspiration and learning. From Ann Wylie's coaching (my team is already groaning from all the tips I'm passing along) to Tracy Panko's social media discussion, I was reminded there's always something to learn and we can all work smarter. And (as can always be counted on) the Editor/PR professional panel on the 24/7 news cycle and social media usage brought inspirational insights and affable arguments that only can happen at TOCA.
In addition to the professional development opportunities, the networking at TOCA this year left nothing to be desired. We can always count on Ms. Bell (our hostess with the mostest) to look fabulous and provide good commentary through the event. And, receptions, meals, the singalong and even the Dueling Piano Bar provided great opportunities to have some insightful conversations and strengthen working relationships with industry contacts.
All in all, this year's TOCA meeting brought all that it promised. I was inspired by what I learned, but also by the exceptionally bright, interesting (and fun) people I get to cross paths with during our annual meeting. So, thank you all for helping provide "Inspiration In the Air." I hope you left as inspired as I.
McIntyre Selected as 2011 TOCA Scholarship Winner
Anna McIntyre, a sophomore at the University of Georgia, is the 2011 recipient of the TOCA Scholarship Program. The program is supported by Golf Course Management, M2Media 360, Total Landscape Care, GIE Media, Inc., and Questex.
McIntyre is majoring in ag communications and education, with a minor in horticulture. Her current GPA is 3.73. Her career goals are to work in public policy, be an educator and ultimately own her own greenhouse and landscape business.
The selection is done by a committee of TOCA members. There were five candidates this year.
Faculty member Richard Hudson calls McIntyre "bright, poised, articulate, well-organized, personable, affable, clever, committed to learning, task oriented and one on whom others can rely."
McIntyre says the scholarship will allow her to make a life long contribution to the industry. "I will never forget the role this esteemed scholarship played in enabling me to pursue my dreams."
Anthony Williams named 2011 TOCA
Environmental Communicator of the Year
Anthony Williams, director of grounds for Stone Mountain Golf Club in Stone Mountain, GA, has been named the 2011 TOCA Environmental Communicator of the Year. The program is sponsored by Project EverGreen.
Williams is the 13th recipient of this award, which selects a Green Industry communicator for "outstanding efforts in communicating the benefits of environmental stewardship to a particular audience within the turf and ornamental industry."
"Anthony's body of work in the golf industry regarding environmental communications has been exceptional," said Den Gardner, TOCA executive director. "His stewardship efforts at Stone Mountain and activities throughout the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America and its Environmental Institute for Golf speak of his dedication to the industry and the environment."
Williams said it is an honor to be chosen as the TOCA Environmental Communicator of the Year and join such an accomplished group of previous winners. "It is a milestone that is both humbling and motivating as I hold such admiration for the individuals and organizations that sponsor and support this award and the mission it represents," he said. "To my mentors, peers and family, thank you all for helping me learn, teach and live the values of environmental stewardship."
Previous winners include:? Mark Welterlen, former Grounds Maintenance magazine publisher; ?Bill Love, W.R. Love Golf Architecture?; Tim Doppel, Atwood Lawncare, Inc.?; Doug Fender, former Executive Director, Turfgrass Producers International; ?Allen James, RISE CEO; ?Rod Dodson, Audubon International?; Jeff Gullickson, Spokane Country Club?; Kevin Trotta, Grounds Manager, IPM Specialist, Cornwall, NY; ?Helen Stone, publisher, Southwest Trees & Turf magazine, ?Allied Golf Associations of Colorado; ?Drs. Larry Stowell and Wendy Gelernter, PACE Turf?; Christopher Gray, Precise Path Robotics (formerly Marvel Golf Club in Kentucky).
Williams was honored at the 22nd annual TOCA meeting in Asheville, NC, May 3-5.
TOCA Mentor Program Off & Running
By Debbie Clayton, Clayton/Himes Communications
We kicked off the TOCA Mentor Program at the recent meeting in Asheville. One of the many initiatives springing from the Strategic Planning Committee, this program is geared toward those who:?- are new to TOCA, ?- are new to the green industry ?- would appreciate some advice or guidance.
Mentors are available as experienced advisors to counsel on industry- or job-related issues -- career strategy, ethical dilemmas, workplace issues, etc. A monthly phone call and/or regular e-mail communication with your mentor is encouraged.
Eight Out of the Gate
We are lucky to have eight mentors right out of the gate -- four on the Marketing side and four on the Editorial side of the business.
Editorial mentors are:
- Larry Aylward, of Superintendent
- Dan Jacobs, of Landscape Management
- Billy Sims, of Total Landscape Care
- Steve Trusty, of Trusty and Trusty
Marketing mentors are:
- McGavock Edwards, of IMRE
- Den Gardner, of TOCA and Gardner & Gardner Communications
- Polly Moter, of GIE
- Jason Schmaderer, of Swanson Russell
Please consider signing up for a mentor. You'll be happy you did!
TOCA Hosts First-Ever Webinar
By Pat Jones?, Publisher
Golf Course Industry magazine
As more TOCA-member companies and publishers make video a larger part of their programs, the association's Professional Development Committee stepped up and created a new way to share information about the topic.
In April, the first-ever TOCA-sponsored Webinar, "Using Video Effectively for Green Industry Editorial and Promotion," attracted about two dozen members. Attendees logged on for an informative one hour presentation by Bob West and Sara Tambascio of Meister Media on the do's and don'ts of preparing, shooting, editing and posting videos online from both the journalist and marketing perspective. The session was conducted using GIE Media's GoToMeeting webinar platform which allowed presenters, and me, as host, and attendees share questions and comments throughout the presentation.
"It went very smoothly and the feedback from participants was great," said West. "Given how busy most people are, this is a terrific vehicle for TOCA to expand its educational efforts beyond the annual meeting."
Laura Ory of Ewing echoed that thought: "It was a great overview and had a lot of good tips. We have just started getting into video in the past year, and this gave us some good ideas to think about."
The committee is planning additional webinars this year, according to chairperson Debbie Clayton. "We have several topics identified, but we're open to ideas so members are encouraged to submit suggestions for topics they think would be of interest to lots of folks." Clayton added a big thanks to now former TOCA member Mark Founds who spearheaded the webinar effort.
If you're bummed out because you missed the live webinar, never fear! The recording is available at: http://www.golfcourseindustry.com/toca-video-webinar.aspx.
Web has passed newspapers
in ad revenue and audience
By Diego Vasquez
The change in our nation's media habits has rarely been so evident as in the annual state of media study released last week by the Project for Excellence in Journalism. The study found that for the first time ever people are turning more frequently to the web than to newspapers to get their news. It underscores the internet's recent surge past newspapers in ad revenue, and it's a pattern that seems likely to continue as tablets, smartphones and other new media devices become more ubiquitous. But the study also noted that while traditional media may have been surpassed by nontraditional in many cases, web readers are still sticking to decidedly mainstream web sources, such as newspaper, network and cable news web sites for their news. Tom Rosenstiel, director of the Project for Excellence in Journalism, talks to Media Life about web versus newspapers, the effect of newspaper layoffs on their circulation, and why cable news networks' ratings have fallen.
What did you find most surprising or most interesting about this study?
That is hard, but probably three things jump out.
The advance of mobile is making clear a grim new reality for content producers. As we move from the browser to other devices, a major new challenge is that any new revenue-however much there is--will have to be split with new players, particularly device makers and software developers of the new digital platforms.
Perhaps most important, the information about the audience, which may be the most valuable product of all, will belong increasingly to the technology companies. If they do not "own" it in a formal sense, they will be able to analyze it more deeply because they will be able to match the behavior of consumers across all the content that moves through those devices, not just news and not just the news from one source.
Second, the speed with which the migration to digital is growing was striking.
This was the year  that the web passed print newspapers in ad revenue and audience for the first time. And TV is in sight. That means the time left for legacy media with strong news gathering resources to figure this out is shrinking.
It also means that resources are going to continue to shrink. News gets only a fraction of this online ad revenue.
At the same time, the metrics for understanding audience behavior online is becoming more confused, not less. And new devices are only going to complicate things more. The ratings agencies cannot even agree on some of the basics, such as how do you define a unique monthly visitor? Are you counting people? Or are you counting computers?
What is the most important thing media buyers and planners can take from it?
More is still unknown than is known about the web and about consumer behavior there. And it is going to stay that way for awhile. The targeting and rich media that everyone is talking about is also still a ways off, though it is beginning to grow in significant ways in local online display advertising.
But one thing to keep in mind that is clear is that the content that people gravitate to most, particularly when it comes to news and information about public affairs, is still traditional, neutral, conventional news coverage. By far.
Of the top 25 news sites, all are traditional in the nature of their content except perhaps for Huffington Post, and I suspect that even there it is their aggregated news content, not their original blogs, that drives most of their traffic.
Of the top 200 news sites, 87 percent of them are traditional in nature.
This is the first time that online has surpassed newspapers both in terms of ad revenue and where Americans get their news. What does this milestone mean for the media industry going forward?
This is not a surprise. The trend lines have been clear since we began doing this work early in the decade. They may have gotten here faster than we might have predicted, but not much faster.
But the audience numbers are more subtle and perhaps a little more misleading. Much of what people are reading online is coming from traditional sources-no matter where they get it. And increasingly they may not be going to the originating site.
The majority of Americans now email news stories to each other-sometimes via links and sometimes just copying and pasting the story into an email.
Facebook and social networks are now a major news source, including for teenagers who barely show up in news consumption data, and these readers may or may not be going to the original news site. We also do not know how mobile phones and tablets will play into this. They are barely reflected in the data at this point.
What it means is that no one media dominates now. Forty percent regularly get news from daily newspapers at least three times each week, 46 percent from online, 50 percent from local TV news, 39 percent from cable news, 28 percent from network evening news, 20 percent from network morning news and 30 percent from weekly community newspapers.
In other words, there is no longer such a thing as a primary news source in America. People graze across many platforms many times a week, and to reach people through this ecosystem we need to understand how they make that traverse.
But we don't know yet. The metrics don't track people across platforms very well. And until they do, it means buyers will need to consider many different platforms, and where people go to some extent depends on the news happening at the moment.
Some news stories are TV stories. Some are text stories.
How will the increasing adoption of smartphones and tablet computers accelerate this? Will other areas besides print be affected by the growing impact of web news delivery and relevance?
The medium may not be the message, but the screen size and the app clearly impact how that message is consumed. We don't know enough yet, but screen size and mobility have to alter cognition. They certainly change the way the content is distributed. The tablet is already changing the way magazines and newspapers look. The app version of many newspapers is already more like the print edition than the browser version was.
Will that change how people read the paper digitally? Will it change their receptivity to advertising online? Certainly many people think so, or hope so. But not enough time has passed yet to test those hypotheses.
Did the internet overtaking newspapers in total ad sales happen before, after or about when you thought it would (year-wise)?
We projected a few years ago that the ad revenue lines would cross in 2013. It happened three years earlier than that, largely because newspaper print ad revenue, thanks to the recession and to the loss of classified advertising to non-paying alternatives like Craigslist, happened faster than most people predicted.
But the key thing to understand is how little of that online ad total goes to support the production of news content. The total for all online ad spending is about $26 billion. Half of that, roughly, goes to search. Though it takes a little parsing out, news is far down the list. Newspapers will take in about $3 billion, or less than 12 percent. Local TV news some smaller proportion than that.
How much of newspapers' declines can be credited to the cuts that have taken place in the industry the past decade? Did cost-cutting result in a loss of quality that sped up the flight to the web by advertisers and readers?
That is not something that can be proven and it is a source of some significant argument in the newspaper industry.
But I think it is fair to say that the newspaper industry, particularly publicly traded companies, focused in the latter part of the 20th century on demographics that were attractive to advertisers.
Since they lost money on circulation (it cost more money to produce a paper than you received in subscription), there was a push away from less affluent readers who advertisers were not targeting. This led to less emphasis on immigrants and other potential markets. And there was a gradual sense, with pressure from some quarters on Wall Street, that the industry could not build readership. So spending more money on newsgathering made no sense if it would not help the bottom line.
Another cohort in the industry disagreed with that and felt that declining circulation was becoming a self fulfilling prophecy. Newspapers were losing penetration because they were becoming too narrowly targeted, not because people didn't want to read. But the industry would never grow if it focused its efforts on cost rather than on marketing and new coverage.
The cuts from the last decade are probably more directly a result of the collapse of key advertising categories, particularly classifieds, and the failure of the web to compensate for those losses.
If one wanted to assign responsibility or suggest what could have been done, it probably is fairer to say that the failure of the industry to identify new revenue sources, or to let others outside news invent them-whether it was Groupon or Realtor.com or a host of other things-had more to do with declining resources and readers than anything else. Readership has not really declined that much, when you add in web readers to the mix.
The New York Times is readying a paywall, and a number of other papers have floated that idea. Based on your research, do you think people will pay to read the newspaper online? Why or why not?
We have a survey in the report that suggests that fairly high numbers might pay online under certain circumstances. The survey found that 23 percent said they would pay $5 a month for their local paper online if it would otherwise perish.
Now that is a hypothetical question. But it suggests that there may be more potential there. We once refused to pay for television. We even had a referendum for pay TV in California in the 1960s and it lost. Now the vast majority of Americans pay for television.
What do you make of the decline in cable news viewership last year? Do you take anything from the fact that Fox News, CNN and MSNBC were all down for the first time?
There could be several explanations. It is possible that the news was less compelling in 2010 than in 2009. That would mean that the health care fight was bigger for ratings than the mid-term elections.
But one thing we do know for sure. More people are becoming more comfortable getting news digitally. That has to affect cable news, which was the medium for breaking news in the previous generation of media technology.
Some of that audience decline is very probably associated with the rising rates of online news consumption. If that is true, that is a structural issue that will not go away and will probably only increase.
Now, people may be going to CNN and Fox News online for that breaking news. But they are not going as often to television. And for now, those are counted separately and we have no clear ways of identifying whether the same person is moving from one to another.
Calendar of Events | 2011-2012
October 27-29 ?Green Industry & Equipment EXPO (GIE + EXPO)?Kentucky Exposition Center?Louisville, KY
October 28 ?TOCA Breakfast?Kentucky Exposition Center, Room TBD?Louisville, KY
February 29 ?GCSAA Breakfast reception at the Golf Industry Show (GIS)?Las Vegas, NV
May 1-3? 23rd Annual TOCA meeting?Nashville, TN?Location TBD
TOCA welcomes the following new members:
Kathleen Battin, Melamed Riley
Patrick Bell, Dow AgroSciences
Michelle D. Boone, Golfdom
Karl Danneberger, Golfdom
Nichole Frye, GIE Media Inc.
Ron Furlong, Golfdom
Richard Jones, Meister Media
Tyler Kavanaugh, Ewing Irrigation
Chris Ortiz, Ewing Irrigation
Anthony Pioppi, Golfdom
Shawn Reed, Ewing Irrigation
Bill Roddy, Melamed Riley
Geoff Shackelford, Golfdom
Irene Sweeney, GIE Media
Karis Thiel, GIE Media
Steve Williams, Agrium Advanced Technologies