10 Nov 2012

6 Ways to Craft More Relevant Blogs

Comments Off Marketing

Words are cheaper than ever. An abundance of electronic ink has lowered the bar for publishing, sometimes to embarrassing levels of ineptitude. How do you rise above the blogging fray? Consider these five ways to add relevance to your blog.

1) Localize your content. Local is in, as Americans celebrate regional differences, and buy-local movements reshape the retailing industry. Feature a deserving local business in your blog — a business owner who has fostered innovation, spearheaded a charitable cause, or offers an exceptional product or service. One of my favorite businesses in Spokane is Forza Coffee, which has created a welcoming community space.

2) Promote a worthy cause. Face it: Do-gooders do get discouraged at times, particularly when a punishing recession lasts longer than anyone could have imagined would be the case just a few years ago. Spokane was recently named the worst job market in the U.S. of similarly sized communities. In your blog, shine a spotlight on one of those community bootstrapping entrepreneurs.

3) Invite a guest contributor. Crowdsourcing content is a powerful strategy for drawing visitors to your blog. Many business owners think about blogging, but the best blogging intentions aren’t enough to sustain the energy required to blog with a frequency that gets a blog noticed. The Internet is populated with thousands of orphaned blogs that haven’t seen a fresh post in a year. (I’m finally taking my own advice.) Guest bloggers are one answer to that conundrum. Invite one business a week to post on your blog. They get the exposure, and you get the benefit from fresh content.

4) Discuss emerging trends. Business owners usually know which trends are negatively affecting the bottom line. If they don’t, the business may not be around for long. That’s true for Spokane, just as it is for any U.S. community. When networking with other business professionals in the community, conversations often turn to the latest scuttlebutt. With that informal economic intel in mind, share a few comments on what you think it means for Spokane. Put a positive spin on it. There’s enough bad news to go around, and often good news is underreported, as any newspaper reporter knows.

5) Get the facts straight. One caveat is in order. Proof your blog and make sure any factual information is amply supported. An easy way to attribute information to the source is through embedding links in your blog, so that the reader can view the source material.

6) Choose an appropriate photo to accompany the article. Make sure you have permission to use the photo. Websites like iStockphoto.com offer low-cost stock photos. Restrictions do apply on use of stock photography, so make sure an editorial use is allowed for the photo you are planning to use.

If you are thinking of starting a blog and need some help, let us know. Email us.

17 Aug 2011

Will entrepreneurship save us?

Comments Off Microenterprise

Our nation began with small shopkeepers, and hardworking farmers. For years, I have had the idea that if I was able to provide one job for me, I was part of the solution. However, the greatest job creation engine on earth continues to be set aside for tired old policies that favor big business. It is actually a psychological problem. Policies and government tax credits favor recruiting a hundred jobs paying low wages, because these jobs are seen as a big boost to a community – “100 Jobs Coming to Spokane.” Headlines like that not only sell papers, but give politicians bragging rights during campaign season. Read more

11 Jul 2011

Conquering Food Waste

Comments Off Sustainability, Technology

I wrote an article for QSR Magazine about food waste and how to reduce it. Many do not know that food waste placed in landfills produces greenhouse gases at incredible levels. Over 30 million tons of food waste are landfilled each year in the U.S., according to the EPA. Food waste is a potent generator of greenhouse gases. For all of our concerns about plastic, food is actually much more damaging to the environment when it rots. A Northwest company, LeanPath, has come up with an innovative solution that involves weighing and tracking food waste. By tracking it, proactive efforts can be made to reduce it. Swedish Hospital is using it, and the results have been impressive. Read the entire article here.

26 May 2011

Aviation biofuels – new push afoot in Northwest

Comments Off Sustainability, Technology

A study released May 25th documents an almost year-long effort by Sustainable Aviation Fuels Northwest (SAFN) to research the feasibility of large-scale biofuel production for the airline industry.Boeing’s Vice President of Environment and Aviation Policy said at the press conference announcing the results of the research, aviation biofuel used in a 2008 testflight was “superior.” SAFN’s steering committee includes Boeing, Washington State University, Alaska Airlines, Spokane International Airport, and other aviation entities. The SAFN executive overview document says this is the first regional coalition in the U.S. to target exploration of sustainable fuels in the aviation sector. Among problems currently besetting the industry that are mentioned in the document is the wide fluctuations in the price of jet fuel. Possible sources for aviation biofuels, according the executive summary, were forest residues, algae, and solid waste. Read more

12 Apr 2011

My beautiful life as a writer

Comments Off Microenterprise

I wrote my first article for a church newsletter when I was 12 years old in 1968. I will never forget what it felt like to see my name in print. I’ve been in love with writing ever since.

In my 21st year, when I moved to Seattle from Jacksonville, Fla., where I was raised, I experienced the luxury of a six-month sabbatical. I spent that time reading the great novels of the 19th and 20th centuries, and writing poetry, while wandering the byways of a slimmer, youthful Seattle, before Microsoft came along. Read more

22 Mar 2011

Will solar be the new construction standard?

1 Comment Sustainability, Technology

LOS ANGELES–(BUSINESS WIRE)–KB Home (NYSE: KBH), one of America’s premier homebuilders, today announced a new initiative to provide solar power systems for its new homes as a standard feature in 10 Southern California communities. The photovoltaic solar systems will help KB homeowners reduce their monthly energy bills and cost of homeownership for years to come, while also benefiting the environment.

“KB Home is already a leader in building energy-efficient homes that can provide homeowners with meaningful savings on their monthly energy bills”
“KB Home is already a leader in building energy-efficient homes that can provide homeowners with meaningful savings on their monthly energy bills,” said Jeffrey Mezger, president and chief executive officer of KB Home. “With this announcement, we are raising the bar even higher and taking an important step in making our homes even more efficient and affordable for our homebuyers over the long term, especially when compared to resale homes.” Read more

21 Mar 2011

Here come composites! Lighter, stronger, and cool!

Comments Off Sustainability, Technology

My latest article in Composites Manufacturing magazine concerns an historic development: Load and resistance factor design pre-standards for composites will have a huge impact on manufacturing and building. We may soon see Jetson-style bubble buildings. With the advent of pre-standards, this means the stage is set for rapid growth in the composite industry.

Here is the link.

And here is another article in the same issue that I wrote about a nine-month training program in composites marine technology.

03 Feb 2011

Beaver relocation project manager loves her job

Comments Off Health, Nonprofit, Sustainability

An expert team of hydrology and vegetation managers work tirelessly in the Inland Northwest, ensuring our area’s water storage will be adequate for future generations.

Unlike some ecological-minded advocates, this team of environmentalists doesn’t object to fur coats. That’s because they are born with them.

This team is comprised of beavers: cute, docile, and the best dam engineers in the animal kingdom.

Amanda Parrish heads up the beaver project for The Lands Council, in Spokane, Wash. The project began in late 2008 as an alternative method of creating more local water storage using natural methods, as opposed to a previous generation’s solution, which was constructing concrete dams. Read more

27 Nov 2010

Free crime-prevention help offered to Spokane businesses

1 Comment Health, Human Resources, Nonprofit

A tragic criminal episode in Spokane’s past led to the formation of community policing in the city, and the organization created in the wake of the tragedy continues to educate businesses and citizens on mounting a proactive response to crime.

Read more

20 Nov 2010

Small steps key to greening Spokane’s buildings

Comments Off Finance, Sustainability, Technology

Little steps, big changes: That was the take-home lesson for green property management at the final 2010 Green Business Luncheon series held in Spokane in 2010.

The Nov. 15th luncheon featured presentations from two of Unico Properties LLC staff, who discussed the strategies used in greening Spokane’s Bank of America Financial Center.

Read more