I have been hanging around in this industry since the very early days. I’ve seen a lot, and even learned a thing or two about what works and what doesn’t. I’ve looked around and seen a few industry blogs, but what I’ve read tends to be product-centric and quite self-serving. People can’t seem to resist the temptation to shamelessly self-promote.
Given I spent 20 years writing and editing in daily newspapers before leaving and getting into this weird space, I thought I could revive my somewhat dormant skills and start a blog looking at the industry from a macro level. What’s being done out there. What works. What seems doomed from the get-go.
That was Feb. 2006, and I am still at it.
How I got here
I had a long career in daily newspapers, working first as an entertainment writer (mostly covering rock music), feature writer, metro news and eventually investigative reporting. I became an editor and ran teams of reporters, and then in 1993, stuck my hand up when my paper was looking for someone to take the place digital.
The Calgary Herald was one of the first newspapers in North America to have an interactive voice response system and also among the first to go online, in 1995. I built and then ran that for several years. But in the late 1990s, few people were buying into the idea that the Internet was going to take the mighty newspaper business down. I saw it clearly, and decided to get out.
In 1999, I joined Canada’s Elevator News Network, what was at that time among the most ambitious and successful digital signage networks in the world. I got the company going in Western Canada and then moved east to take ENN through its most aggressive expansion. We added 600 screens in a year, a huge task and a very big capex.
I left in Nov. 2001 after ENN was shotgun-merged with Captivate Network of Boston, having been walked off the plank along with the rest of the Canadian management team. I think our US colleagues picked up a few things from us, and Captivate has developed into one of the biggest and most successful players in this space.
I had a brief sojourn with an early-days digital signage consultancy, part of a larger retail design firm. After about a year, I then started work on what became Concourse Media, a digital out of home ad network with screens positioned through the busiest commuter walkways underground in Toronto’s business district. Premium business viewership. BIG ad impression counts. All the pieces were there … except it was about five years ahead of its time. At least five years.
That’s still operating, but a couple of lean ad revenue years, and kids nearing the college years, convinced me to hand over the keys and get a steady paycheque.
For a few years I developed the business in North America for a couple of the biggest and best digital signage software companies around. I went from one to the other following dollar signs and, in hindsight, maybe that wasn’t such a good idea … as the second one seemed to run low on the cash it seemed to have plenty of when I’d jumped.
Anyway, I got whacked by the Great Recession and found myself on the street in Spring 2009. I was more than dead-tired of the vagaries of working for others, so I finally listened to some industry friends and set up my own gig, pressDOOH.
In a nutshell, I do all the writing work that most companies in this space don’t have the time, skills or resources to do on their own. They could hire out to a formal PR firm and spent much of their time getting the firm’s people up the learning curve. Or call me. Unless you are doing something really weird, I already know your business. And quite possibly know you! That has developed into a nice little company and I have more than 50 clients globally.
I am also a member of The Preset Group, a consultancy focused on providing strong, bullshit-free advice, guidance and direct help to technology companies, networks, investors and other stakeholders involved in the sector. We work with everyone from Fortune 500 companies to start-ups.
My home base is in Burlington, Ontario, aka outer, outer Toronto, Canada, and in normal times, hotels and airports and convention centers. I work out of my home office and live bait shop. Well, not really the latter, but it sounds funny. I have access to meeting rooms, as well, at a co-share workspace thing-doodle up the road. Or there’s always a local watering hole for a truly good meeting when in town.
Why this blog
I mostly do this for fun, and because it is needed. I try hard to stay unbiased, and if I take a shot at a company or person, it is not personal. It’s because the assertions being made in PR or in front of a mike are ridiculous, and someone needs a little written whack upside the head. If the Emperor shows up with no clothes, I’m taking pictures and posting ’em.
There are quite a few decent resources out there now – certainly a lot more than eight years ago. But I think I bring something different. You can find re-purposed PR on several sites. I do analysis and context.
Everything posted is my personal opinion and does not reflect on my business partners or clients. Nothing is pre-approved unless I choose to get something fact-checked or OK’d by whoever I am blabbering on about. There are no warranties or other guarantees about the quality of the opinions. In other words, it’s a blog. But I adhere to disciplines I learned and refined working in some of Canada’s better newsrooms.
Wherever possible, I declare any vested interest I have in a written subject. So you will often see disclaimers if the company I am writing about is a client. However, I have consulting and writing clients who want my work kept in the background. In those cases, I make no declaration.
There is no pay to play thing happening here. I have clients I write for and issue press releases about. Some get covered here, but others never will because the fit is not there. To their credit, not one has ever bitched about that.
I do take advertising, but as with my business clients, advertisers don’t expect or ask for special play.
This is how to reach me:
- Email (best): dave at pressdooh.com
- Phone: 905-592-1612
- Skype: dhaynes