Archive for June, 2011

Groupon is not as sweet as you might think it is

June 14th, 2011 Comments off
When the national deal-of-the-day website Groupon arrived in Mississippi back in the fall, it came with great fanfare.
Across the nation, the three-year-old coupon company has been all the hype. It is the largest of its competitors and claims it distributes online coupons from merchants in 500 markets and 44 countries.
However, as far as many small business owners are concerned, some of the shine has faded from the fad.
Media swarmed Nandy’s Candy in Jackson when it became the first Mississippi business to offer coupons from the meteoric company.
TV types reported live from the historic candy store’s parking lot at 5:30 in the morning that first day the initial deals were to be offered.
Newspapers described the excitement of businesses and consumers had as the national phenomenon finally reached Mississippi.
Groupon — like so many other happenings, including fashion trends and even the great recession — took a while to matriculate to these parts.
The consumers in these parts are still thrilled with the idea of getting great stuff for less money.
But Nancy King, owner of Nandy’s for more than 30 years, doesn’t give an overwhelming endorsement of Groupon.
“We got a lot of exposure in the media because we were the first,” she said. “It brought some more customers in … but I don’t know if I would do it again.”
King’s eyes are wide open to the process.
“Let’s get this straight, Groupon is making a kazillion dollars. They aren’t about me. They are about making money.”
Groupon has made so much money that Facebook and Google want a piece of the action and have launched similar products.
In fact, the initial public offering filing by Groupon, has drawn comparisons to Google.
Some have estimated Groupon’s potential worth at $20 billion to $30 billion. Google was $27 billion at the time of its 2004 IPO.
But buyer beware. Reports — like the story of the café owner in Portland who lost $8,000 using Groupon — are all over the Web.
And there are many skeptics, including Bloomberg’s James Temple, who recently wrote, “Strip away all the hope and hype surrounding Groupon and you’re left with this: It’s a coupon company. Its major innovation was to distribute them through e-mail instead of the Sunday paper.”
Then there’s business analyst Sucharita Mulpuru, who recently wrote a column for Forbes on the subject.
“This IPO game isn’t about finding value, it’s about finding a greater fool who who actually believes the valuation is true. Trust me, you will be the fool. There will be plenty more IPOs coming up of companies with greater profitability and higher barriers to entry (e.g. social networks with hundreds of millions of followers). Those will be wiser investments.”
And Nancy King at Nandy’s Candy is no fool.
“Groupon makes a fortune (and for a small business owner) it is a good tool, but you have to be cautious,” she said.
A less experienced business owner could be overwhelmed with the process and lose a lot of money, King warned.
But she also makes the point that Groupon ain’t from around here and doesn’t have a clue about the Mississippi market.
Groupon associates insisted on King following a cookie-cutter model that would have had her hiring more people and spending more money because of the flood of business the company said would walk through the door.
“But they don’t know anything about us,” she said.
“We live in a state with two-and-a-half million people. This thing may work great in Atlanta and Dallas and New York and Chicago, but that’s not this market.”
There are lots of other options as far as King is concerned.
“Quite honestly, I still believe in the newspaper,” she said. “I like holding it in my hands; I like to see the pages turn.”
She said advertising in more traditional ways is still working for Nandy’s Candy.
And while she won’t say that she won’t ever use Groupon again, King believes there are a lot of unknowns with which to be concerned.
Small business, which makes up the vast majority of the American economy, by King’s and so many others’ estimates, isn’t particularly made to cash in on Groupon.
But Groupon is absolutely going to try to cash in on America’s small business owners.
Contact Mississippi Business Journal editor Ross Reily at or (601) 364-1018

Who really is quoted in that press release you just sent?

June 8th, 2011 1 comment

Press releases and e-mail quotes are like nails scratching down a chalk board to me. In many instances, they are a necessity, but there are limits to what you can do with them.

In some cases, the Mississippi Business Journal just will not accept them. There are so many limits on their effectiveness.


In email interviews, you can’t do follow-up questions based on the subject’s answers, and the reporter can’t take body language into account. Then, in a statement, how are you to know the quotes are the quotes of the person they are attributed to?

The media is already getting a bum rap too many times about not getting it right, when taking a quote from an e-mailed statement is a guaranteed way not to have a guaranty of who authored the quotes.

Veteran journalist Jim Stasiowski preaches on this subject often.

“What I tell reporters and editors all the time is, we get our best responses the closer we get to our sources,” said Stasiowski, writing coach for The Dolan Company, which owns the Mississippi Business Journal.  “We get better information if we can be there in person to ask questions; if that’s not possible, then the telephone is the next best way to interview because even though we’re not physically right next to the person, we’re communicating with him or her in real time, and we can sense from voice inflection, pauses, laughter, etc., what that person’s mood is.”

The point is email separates us from the person, both in time – he or she can answer an email whenever – and in the experience of being together.

“Think of it this way: If, as a tornado was roaring through a neighborhood, if a reporter could get on the telephone a resident, frightened to death and huddled in a basement, would that interview be dramatic?

“OK, now, let’s say we emailed that person when the tornado was approaching, but he or she already was in the basement, far from the computer,” Stasiowski continued. “If, two hours later, he or she found that email message and responded, yes, the response would be thoughtful and worthwhile, but it would lack that very human element of wondering what was about to happen.”

The list of difficulties with email interviews should scare every reporter, but he says the truth is, “Some reporters like the easy way to get information, and email exchanges are easy.

“I want reporters who treasure the difficulties inherent in the in-person or over-the-telephone interview. And I want reporters who get as close as possible to the people they are interviewing.”

It’s important to remember that email is not terrific for sorting out issues of great complexity. In this respect, an actual conversation can do wonders. So, when at all possible, getting the news from the horse’s mouth is the best avenue to take.

Bryant expects to be endorsed by realtors

June 8th, 2011 1 comment

The media relations team for Phil Bryant’s gubernatorial campaign has released a statement to announce a press conference at 1 p.m. Thursday.
The release states that the campaign expects to receive an endorsement from the Mississippi Association of Realtors.
The press conference will be held at the Mississippi Association of Realtors office on Lakeland Drive in Jackson.

Jackson blogger weighs in on NASCAR track

June 8th, 2011 Comments off

Interest is growing about the proposition of building a NASCAR track in Mississippi.

Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant has used the economic development project as part of his stump speech as he campaigns for governor.

Since I wrote a column, looking for details on what it would take to bring such a development to the Magnolia State, there has been lots of talk and discussion about the subject.

Many wonder why I would be against bringing a NASCAR or similar-type motorsports track to Mississippi. That’s not the point.

The Mississippi Business Journal is interested in the details of what it would take to make it happen.

We would be for bringing the Dallas Cowboys to Mississippi too, but we would want to know how it would be done and what Mississippi is willing to give up, financially, to make it happen.

Those type of details have not been offered. The only thing offered has been “We are for NASCAR.”

A Jackson blogger pointed that out about one of our critics today.

Super Chikan getting it done for Bill Luckett

June 6th, 2011 2 comments

If only because he’s running as a Democrat for governor of Mississippi, Bill Luckett has what you might describe as an outside chance of winning. But here’s Super Chikan celebrating Mr. Luckett in the club the candidate co-owns with Morgan Freeman.

Casino boss hints at mysterious NASCAR track

June 6th, 2011 Comments off

While there is still no official statement about efforts to bring a NASCAR or NASCAR-type track to Mississippi, the state’s gaming commissioner Larry Gregory hinted at it Monday.

At the monthly John C. Stennis Institute of Government luncheon in downtown Jackson, he said that Mississippi will need to invest heavily in other tourism attractions — such as convention centers, water parks and racing tracks — near its waterfront casinos.

“There’s been talk on the coast, but also Tunica, of bringing some mega race track into the facilities,” he said.

See a previous blog post about NASCAR in Mississippi.

Craft beer enthusiasts get boost

June 6th, 2011 Comments off

According media reports, Tax assassin Grover Norquist and Americans for Tax Reform have thrown their support behind some important legislation that was in May introduced to mark American Craft Brew Week– The Brewer’s Employment and Excise Relief Act of 2011 or BEER Act.

Lazy Magnolia owner Leslie Henderson can be seen here on Fox and Friends throwing her support behind the idea.

Bryant drafting on idea of a NASCAR track

June 6th, 2011 1 comment

Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant knows every speed-loving Mississippian would support bringing NASCAR to the state, and he’s promising, as part of his campaign for governor, to help make it happen.
But there’s a big problem with that promise: Bryant can’t keep it.
There will not be a NASCAR track built in Mississippi. And even if one gets built, it’s highly unlikely NASCAR would schedule any races here.
In a recent speech in Rankin County, Bryant told a group of supporters, “We have even talked to some friends … about a NASCAR track. I’m gonna go ahead and tell you I want one. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say we need a NASCAR track here in Mississippi. And I’ve got the people to come together that want to do that.”
However, motorsports insiders say that’s never going to happen.
The last track sanctioned by NASCAR was the $152-million Kentucky Speedway, which will have its first official race with the big boys in July. But it took five years and two lawsuits to get the track included in the series.
“NASCAR is looking to cut back on dates, not increase dates,” Sports Business Journal motorsports writer Tripp Mickle said. “That’s an empty promise. That’s never going to happen.”
NASCAR has been going through the same economic crisis as every other industry in the nation. It already cut purses for the Nationwide Series by 20 per cent this season, a move designed to make hosting the second-tier series a more profitable proposition for track owners. It also cut the number of races this year from 35 to 34.
But short track owners are losing money, too, and the industry is scrambling to come up with a viable solution.
Mickle estimated a new track in Mississippi could cost between $200 million and $500 million and take up to three years to build.
“Maybe you could get one of the minor series to come,” he said, “but, I don’t know.”
Even a Mississippi-born NASCAR insider, who wants a track in Mississippi, said there’s no way it will happen.
“No chance,” said former managing editor Duane Cross, who grew up in Aberdeen. “To get up and talk about that is really not very fair.”
Promising a NASCAR track is one thing, he said, but laying out a clear set of plans and details is something else.
Bryant, for now at least, is keeping those details to himself.
Other than his comments on the campaign trail, Bryant would not respond to interview requests to detail the idea, but a statement attributed to him said he is for NASCAR in Mississippi.
That doesn’t add up. Bryant is on the campaign trail telling potential voters he wants to bring NASCAR to Mississippi, yet he doesn’t want to talk about the specifics of building what, at minimum, could be a $200-million track and breaking into the NASCAR schedule.
To get a national touring series race — Cup, Nationwide or Truck — a track must apply for a NASCAR-sanctioned license. The track must then meet minimum safety requirements.
“Even then,” Cross said, “the chances of NASCAR adding a date to the existing schedule is almost nil.”
The same is true for a local series race, like K&N Pro East or West, Whelen Modified or Whelen Southern Modified and Whelen All-American.
Cross, who is now editor of, said there is a better opportunity for Mississippi to get a local series track sanctioned “but the economic impact is almost minimal.”
So, is Bryant’s NASCAR talk just an attempt to get votes by misleading the public?
If it’s not and he’s serious about making this happen, his potential supporters deserve more than a weak promise built on the sands of political sentiment. Without the details, it looks a lot like Bryant is just spinning his wheels.

It’s National Do-Nut Day

June 3rd, 2011 Comments off

I don’t know who started it (probably some lobbyist somewhere), but I am glad National Do-Nut Day was started in America.
I have done my part. We now have 2 dozen (one dozen regular; half blueberry; half chocolate) from Scurlock’s in the MBJ offices.
What have you done for your office today?
I will say some of the women in advertising hollered at me (in a really mean way) when I announced there were do-nuts in the break room.
So, you may want to take that into consideration.

MBJ Poll: Should Enerkem receive funds from the Mississippi Development Authority?

June 2nd, 2011 Comments off

Should Enerkem receive funds from the Mississippi Development Authority?

Categories: Posts Tags: