Friday, August 14, 2009

Bako bits: From social networking as a marketing tool to rumblings at CSUB to upside down mortgages

Wrapping up the week and cleaning off my desk as we head into another weekend. School starts next week and fall is coming. Let's get to it:

* ... RUMBLINGS OVER AT CSUB: I seem to have hit a nerve with my mention that longtime Cal State community liaison Laura Wolfe had been ousted. (read previous post here) Got a couple calls from CSUB insiders who were lamenting the loss of Laura, who spent 14 years with the university building better relations between the school and the community. Laura worked for Mike Chertok, who retired and was replaced by Beverly Byl, brought in by President Horace Mitchell. Give Horace credit: he has single handedly raised the stature of the university in the community through sheer good will, focus and great personal charm. Which is why insiders are puzzled over the choice of Beverly, who one person described as one who moves through a room with sharp elbows. No doubt the dismissal of Laura Wolfe was a move that addressed two concerns: one budgetary and the other the desire to build your own team. President Mitchell called me and said there was no "personal agenda" in the firing of Wolfe but rather it was a consequence of the budget crisis. He noted, for example, that the state budget contribution to CSUB was less this year than it was five years ago when he came on board. Still, there's lots of chatter about Byl, including her desire to bring all the fund raising under one umbrella as opposed to athletics raising money for one thing and an academic endeavor for another. Folks are talking and the university really can't afford to squander the good will Horace has earned. No doubt there will be more on this later.

* ... MARKETING ON FACEBOOK? Read with interest a piece that said 63 percent of all companies planned to increase their spending on social media this year. That's not too surprising since a recent study by the Association of National Advertisers said 66 percent of marketers have now used social media in some form. The top platforms being utilized: Facebook (74 percent), YouTube (65 percent), Twitter (63 percent) and LinkedIn (60 percent). Locally, a good example would be Mary Christenson, the longtime high end Watson-Touchstone Realtor who has embraced Facebook and made it one of her marketing devices. If she lists a new home in Seven Oaks, she'll post a message on it. Trouble with appraisals? She's all over it. Mary is savvy enough to recognize there's a terrific audience and all it takes is her time. At The Californian, marketing director Rob Meszaros has used Facebook and Twitter extensively in marketing the new Monday-Friday tabloid that debuts next week.

* ... UPSIDE DOWN MORTGAGE? Amazed to read in The Californian yesterday that fully half of all mortgages in Bakersfield are now upside down. That means the homeowners basically owe more than the home is worth, thanks to months of falling housing prices. That can't bode well for future foreclosures. The depth of recession cannot be underestimated. Last week it was reported that one in every 10 mortgages in the entire state of California is in foreclosure.

* ... LATIN SHOW AT METRO GALLERIES: Don Martin over at the Metro Galleries downtown is busy preparing for Latination, a project sponsored by his gallery and MAS magazine. The deadline for entries for the show is next week, so drop them off between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Wednesday over at Metro, 1604 19th Street. Selected pieces in the juried exhibit will be displayed at the gallery during September. Contact Don with any questions at 634-9598.


Anonymous said...

Ever since I read this piece about Byl, who I've never heard of before (running with the regular folks as I do vs. the chattering class), I have been left with a sour taste in my mouth. Who is the source of the information about her "sharp elbows" ? Is this journalism? OK, it's a blog, but then it appears in the paper and it just looks like nasty, unsubstantiated gossip that you wouldn't let a junior reporter get away with writing, given the anonymity of the accuser. Imagine the damage to her reputation and her ability to make a living after this was published. For shame. How mean-spirited; would you like the same thing written about you after you've fired someone for reasons that are private, personnel matters? I doubt it.

Richard Beene said...

Anon: Thanks for your comments and I appreciate your concerns and point of view. I'll try to keep this brief and as clear as I can.
First, as you noted this is a blog and - even when reprinted in the paper - represents my views only. Second, and perhaps more to the point, the focus of the piece was on CSUB, a public tax supported university in whose success we all have a stake. Had this been a private company, say Oxy for example, I likely would not have touched it.
In addition, the people involved work in University Advancement (fund raising) and the way they are perceived by the community has a direct impact on the university's ability to raise money. That's important and that's why I addressed it. We may disagree on this one but I thank you for your input.

Anonymous said...

You fail to address the point of using anonymous sources to smear a person. Who says she is unpleasant? Shouldn't we be able to judge the source of the nasty comments? Perhaps it's your best friend who says this? Your next door neighbor? Spouse? Someone with an ax to grind? The guy on the treadmill at the gym? It doesn't matter whether this is an employee of a public institution or a private employer, it's still anonymous and therefore, suspect. While it's perhaps tolerable on a blog, it's not in the paper of record for the city in a column that reads like insider gossip. I imagine that the NYT would find this type of anonymous comment good fodder for the public editor. I don't believe we disagree on the same point; I thank you for your input as well.

Richard Beene said...

Thanks for your follow up. I might add that not every observation or mood or tone in every story in a "paper of record" (much less the NYTimes, a bad example on your part) is attributed to a "source," and clearly I've hit a never with you on this topic for one reason or the other. We'll just have to leave it at that. I do appreciate your input, and while we disagree, your argument is relevant.

Anonymous said...

Still no explanation of your reasoning for using anonymous sources to criticize this woman's personality and "sharp elbows," which sounds like substitute for an ugly word applied to strong-willed women. I've read the NYT public editor column for some time and the question of when to use anonymous sources has been discussed with the upshot being that one better to have a good reason to use them. The use of anonymous sources is said to be carefully discussed by writers and editors, but maybe it's all a sham on the part of the NYT. I don't know either Wolfe or Byl. I don't have a dog in this fight, except to say that the unkindness and the willingness to print unattributed gossip as facts is unseemly and wrong and it's clear you are unable to provide reasons for using them. That's the nerve that's been hit. Thank you for your responses.