Small Business and Sports Business

CHRIS KATTERJOHN Commentary: It's déjà vu all over again

February 5, 2007

CHRIS KATTERJOHN

Commentary It's déjà vu all over again Every once in a while, I'm struck by the same-ness of things.

My last column was filed from Florida, as was last year's second column in January. This week's is being written upon my return from a publisher's meeting in Puerto Vallarta, as was last year's first February column. That's a little scary. Is my life getting to be that predictable?

Remember my passport debacle from last year? This year in Mexico, I happily avoided that serious anxiety. On the business side, the issues we publishers talked about this year were similar to last year's, too, much of it centered around Web-based publishing with an emphasis on integrated marketing for our advertisers.

These days, many of our advertisers are asking to use multiple venues for their messages, from the newspaper to events to e-mails to the Internet. We as publishers must be able to respond to their needs.

As far as industry outlook, the news again was good. Bob Felsenthal, publisher of the marketing newspaper BtoB, told us 2007 should be strong for business publishers, as nearly two-thirds of marketers surveyed by his publication say they intend to increase advertising over 2006.

On the heels of a strong 2006 for virtually everyone at the meeting, that prediction was a good one to hear.

As you might guess, during our free time, some of the conversations centered on the Super Bowl. And in most cases, those who weren't interested slid off in multiple directions to find conversation pods more to their liking.

It's clear that most sports fans just can't talk about The Big Game for only a minute or two, even in a social setting where not everyone cares. Super Bowl conversations tend to go on and on, ad nauseum.

At any rate, I'm happy to report that, almost without exception, the attendees-who came from all over the country-were rooting for our Colts, most for obvious reasons.

Jeff Nuttall, co-publisher of the Northern Colorado Business Report, was huge on the Colts and predicted victory. Nuttall's an Indianapolis native and graduate of Brebeuf High School, and his current home team, the Denver Broncos, was a disappointment this year.

Steve Jagler, executive editor of Small Business Times Milwaukee, likewise was pulling for Peyton Manning and company. This is not surprising, considering his beloved Green Bay Packers are arch-rivals of the Chicago Bears.

Even a bespectacled 5-year-old boy, son of Crain's New York executive Vanessa Cognard and major Pittsburgh Steelers fan, said he'd be cheering for the Colts. He has a thing for Manning.

As would be expected, the contingent from Crain's Chicago Business was all about the Bears, though not in an obnoxious way. In fact, its support was more subdued than I expected.

Crain's Chicago Associate Publisher David Snyder confided that the community didn't seem to be as fired up about this year's Bears as it was about Mike Ditka's 1986 Super Bowl XX-winning team.

The Colts seemed to have won the favor of all the so-called casual, objective observers, at least at this diverse gathering. Their reasons reflected a respect for Tony Dungy or Manning, and a general sense that this team deserved a victory.

Maybe it's because we're nice. Maybe it's because we're no-nonsense. Or maybe it's because we've been on the verge for so long. Maybe it's even because people outside the city finally believe we've reached our potential. Whatever the reason, it was nice to feel the love. About half of you will be reading this column after the game is over. No matter what the outcome, the Colts have given us a lot to cheer about in 2007. We've found a whole new level of support. It's déjà blue all over again.



Katterjohn is publisher of IBJ. To comment on this column, go to IBJ Forum at www.ibj.comor send e-mail to ckatterjohn@ibj.com.
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