Monday, June 28, 2010

The chamber's working hard to ensure a bright future

I have to admit it was a little strange for me to sit down and write this column for the BirminghamEccentric. But the same could be said for many experiences I have had since being appointed president of the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber on June 1.

You see, I have considerable history with both organizations and to have my life once again intertwined with both is, well, a bit strange. But it also is very exciting and rewarding, and I am absolutely thrilled to be working with, and on behalf of, the greater Birmingham-Bloomfield community once again.

Having been associated with the Chamber since the early 1990s as a volunteer, committee chair, booster and board member, I have had a front-row seat to its remarkable growth and success. Today's Chamber is a dynamic, vibrant, full-service organization dedicated to enhancing the business opportunities of its members and the quality of life of the communities it serves.

What really excites me about my new job is the opportunity to serve an area I've considered my second home for 20 years. I have come to know the “Five Bs and an F” as communities filled with decent, caring residents served by dedicated public servants supported by outstanding local businesses. Not only is there a real sense of community in our slice of Oakland County, but the folks who live here have a fierce pride in their hometown.

Having worked for nearly two decades for the area's local newspaper, I had the good fortune to meet countless residents, public officials and local business operators who helped me understand the unique character of the area. Many of these folks who started out as sources or interview subjects I now count as treasured and trusted friends.

To read more, click here. Joe Bauman is president of the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber. He welcomes feedback at

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Birmingham: The best address for businesses

Birmingham has long been known for great retail and fine dining. Birmingham has also become a center for a wide range of professional offices representing primarily the financial, legal, real estate and medical sectors. Several architects and interior designers have made Birmingham their office home as well. Most recently, Birmingham has welcomed a number of advertising agencies such as McCann Erickson, Brogan Partners, and Gas Station TV, to name a few.

What makes Birmingham such an attractive location for the wide variety of professional offices? Commercial property owner Edward Fuller says it's the “office lifestyle” that Birmingham provides. He would know. Fuller's office and retail commercial space in Birmingham is 98.5 percent occupied.

Last week, Birmingham welcomed another premier office tenant. Greenleaf Trust held a ribbon cutting ceremony in their brand new building at Woodward and Maple, next to Peabody's on June 17. On the first floor, Zazio's, an Italian restaurant from Kalamazoo, is expected to open later this summer. The developer was Catalyst Development Corporation, out of Kalamazoo. This was their first building in Birmingham, and one of only a very few new construction projects of this scale anywhere in Metro Detroit over the past two years. Catalyst has shown interest in other Birmingham projects.

The thousands of workers that come to downtown Birmingham every day bring business to restaurants and stores. They give the daytime sidewalks a bustling energy that says clearly: Business is thriving in Birmingham.

John Heiney is executive director of the Birmingham Principal Shopping District.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Farewell and best wishes to all

As I prepare to depart the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber as president on June 18, I want to thank the staff, the Board of Directors, the membership, the volunteers and the communities for their support during my tenure. During my three-year Chamber stint I have enjoyed working with each of these groups as all have brought a different perspective to the Chamber's success.

I leave you in good hands as my successor, Joe Bauman, is a longtime Chamber advocate. Many of you are familiar with Joe in his role as a journalist for more than 25 years, the last 19 with the Observer & Eccentric newspaper chain. He was a reporter, editor and assistant managing editor. In 2000, he was named managing editor of the Eccentric group, and spent 18 years covering the greater Birmingham community.

Joe has also served on the Chamber Board of Directors for a number of years and will be replaced by Brian Henry of eTitle as Board Chair. Please look for Joe's column to begin June 27 and please feel free to contact him to welcome him aboard.

To read more, click here.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

There's nothing mysterious about good PR

Public Relations or PR doesn't have to be a mystery. In the simplest terms PR is about validation.

Imagine meeting with a prospective client about your product or service and finding out that they have already read an article about the success of the product you're trying to sell them. That would be a nice spot to be in.
Whether it comes in the form of an article in the Birmingham Eccentric, a blog post from a customer or a mention on the radio - the key is the third party credibility it provides. Here are a few tips to help you get started with your own PR efforts:
• Identify your Audience: Who is your target? It is important to know who it is that you are trying to reach. You may have multiple audiences depending on the type of business you have.
• Know your Competitors/Industry: In order to stay ahead of the pack you need to know what their strengths and weaknesses. Conducting a competitive analysis can help you to effectively differentiate your business from the competition based on your own unique selling points.
• Key Messages: Use your competitive analysis results to help set your business apart. Understanding the key points of your product or service for each audience is crucial. Once you have identified your key messages (keep them concise!) you should communicate them consistently - from verbal mentions to your collateral materials and Web site.
• Media monitor: Regularly reading publications, blogs and other media sources that you would like to see your business in can help you identify possible media opportunities where you or your business could be represented.

To read more about this topic, click here.

Carrie Zarotney is president of the Birmingham Bloomfield Chamber

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Summer is special event season in Birmingham

Memorial Day is usually the unofficial start of summer in Michigan. For me, summer officially begins with the start of the special event season in Birmingham. With so many wonderful events, you can attend an event just about every weekend in Birmingham from May through October.

Looking ahead, this year's summer event season in Birmingham will have a lot to offer. June 3-6 is Village Fair, in a new location on South Old Woodward at the 555 Triangle. In the Park Concerts will kick off June 18 with Battle of the Bands, continuing Wednesdays from June 23 to Aug. 11 in Booth Park. Expect the usual eclectic mix of music, highlighted by the U.S. Army Field Band on July 7, and Birmingham's own Michael King on Aug. 11.

Booth Park will host Movie Nights on June 25, July 30 and Aug. 13. Enjoy Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Night at the Museum 2 and the award-winning The Blind Side.
Day On the Town will take place July 24. The huge outdoor sale welcomes thousands of visitors from all over. This year, Green Breeze joins Day On the Town with 100 booths from eco-friendly companies, free lectures and exciting displays. The Birmingham Cruise Event takes place Aug. 21, with a rolling museum of Detroit's finest automobiles.

Farmers Market will offer special events, including the all-new Corn Festival Aug. 8, and Hay Day Sept. 12. There will be lots of farm fun, kids crafts and more.
Art In the Park, hosted by Common Ground, makes its debut Sept. 26-27 on South Old Woodward. We will stretch the “summer” event season a little longer with the End of Season Celebration at the Farmers Market, the Pumpkin Patch and the Halloween Parade, all Oct. 24. The Eccentric, PSD and the chamber are cooking up a pumpkin festival for the same day (more details to come)!

With all of the great outdoor dining spots and some of the finest shopping anywhere, Birmingham is an amazing summer event destination. Best of all: It's in your back yard. Get out and enjoy special event season in Birmingham.
Finally, on this Memorial Day weekend, let's take a moment to remember our fallen heroes — those brave service members who have given their lives to keep us all safe, secure and free.

John Heiney is executive director of the Birmingham Principal Shopping District.