Monday, November 28, 2011

Portsmouth Public Media Storytellers Open House a Success Story

The Board of Directors of Portsmouth Public Media pose for posterity at the end of the PPMTV Storytellers Open House on Sunday, November 20, 2011.  

Aided (or hindered?) by temperatures that soared into the upper 60s, we had a terrific turnout. Upward of 150 people visited, toured the South Meetinghouse facility, and fired their imaginations. What would they do with air time on local TV?  The possibilities are dizzying, and they wrote dozens of ideas on the board: A cooking show for bachelors...  High school sports... A reality show about band-geeks... A Portsmouth based variety show featuring local musicians... Restaurant reviews... Wine tastings...  So many great ideas!  

Dozens of membership applications went home with the highly intrigued-- and many wrote checks to sign up on the spot.

Talented volunteers with experience in video production came forward to offer their expertise. 

City officials and a veritable who's who of locals came to see the old Children's Museum, meet the PPMTV founders, and see how they could get involved. 

In short, it was a rousing success! 

Board member Dan Freund filed this report for his Monday Morning Show on

So, what's next? As they say in TV land, "Stay tuned..."

Monday, November 14, 2011

Introducing PPMTV

I'm pleased to be helping get the word out about Portsmouth Public Media (PPMTV).  What is it?  Since it's a video medium, I'll let PPMTV Board President Dave Underhill explain:

Your chance to see PPMTV up close and personal is coming up this Sunday afternoon at the long-awaited Open House.  Here's the deets:


When: Sunday, November 20, 2PM-5PM

Where: PPMTV's new studio facility at 280 Marcy Street, Portsmouth, at the South Meetinghouse, former home of the Children's Museum.

Who: Meet your South End neighbors, community leaders, PPMTV founders, board members, and volunteers (yours truly included).

Why: Because you've got an unique story to tell and voice to be heard... Because you're curious about the inner workings of how television gets made... Because you represent a business, group, or non-profit that needs to get the word out... Or because the Patriots play on Monday night so you're looking for something interesting to do. Whatever your motivation, we'll be glad to see you! 

Cost: Free. (But bring your checkbook, because you'll want to sign up for a membership!)

Parking: We have permission to park at Strawbery Banke's visitors' center lot, or just walk from one of the downtown lots.

See you there!  

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Portsmouth Rallies to Save RiverRun Bookstore

The story of Portsmouth these days isn't being sold at RiverRun Bookstore.  It is RiverRun Bookstore.  This is a "The Shop Around the Corner"/"You've Got Mail" story that hopes to have an "It's a Wonderful Life" ending.

Bookseller, community activist, and protagonist Tom Holbrook set the scene in a mournful e-mail missive to his mailing list:
After a lot of hard thinking, I've decided not to renew the lease at 20 Congress St., which ends on December 31st.  When we moved into this space five years ago business was booming, the economy was good, and the Kindle didn't exist yet.

Fast forward to 2011 and we simply cannot afford the most expensive real estate in the most expensive city in New Hampshire.  The world of books is a beautiful one, but a shrinking one.  We just can't stay here.
The hue and cry was instant.  It was a front-page news story here, and the plight of the David indie bookstore against the Goliath Amazon-et-al was picked up by the likes of Salon and the L.A. Times.  But its our fabulous local rag, The Wire, who in this blogger's opinion best captured the story.   

People came out of the woodwork and wanted to know what they could do to help save the store.  Holbrook called a meeting--and 150 people crammed into the store. 

This certainly was an unexpected plot twist.  A shop owner openly admitting he got in over his head and asking for help?  A store accepting cash donations?  People willingly giving a store money without exchange for goods?  What store holds a special community meeting to solicit investors?  Who ever heard of such a thing?  As a public relations case study, this is definitely one for the books. 

Fact is, Holbrook might've taken on too much debt, but he has done everything right to date when it comes to public relations. All this tiny store has done is lead Portsmouth's highly successful Buy Local campaign, bring hundreds of big-name authors to our little town, discover a Pulitzer Prize winner, and basically make itself indispensable to the local community. 

Moreover, RiverRun leverages his customer base with Constant Contact and makes excellent use of social media.  Check out the Twitter feed with its own hash tag: #saveRRbooks. 

(Photo credit: New Hampshire Gazette.)
The goodwill Holbrook's built up over the years has come back to help him in a big way.  Now people are donating used books for them to sell, and investors are lining up, checkbooks in hand.  He blogged a recap of the public meeting, and there's plenty of cause for optimism. 

Will this story have a happy ending?  Or will this be another sad chapter in this era of big business squashing the little guy?  We'll just have to wait and see... We can't skip to the end of this book.