26 November 2007

Money Well Spent? - Updated

Note: I have had a few conversations with folks who support the Compass, and there has been some concern that my math in the post below is not exact. Specifically, the cost associated with getting a letter to the County involved more than just a stamp. There are costs associated with composing, transcribing, reviewing, and of course, printing a letter. I believe that many of these costs also come into play when sending a letter as an advertisement. That aside, the concerns of my friends led me to post this update. So please, keepin mind that the numbers are not exact, but are best estimates.

Thank you dear readers.

After a series of hastily scheduled meetings, the Columbia Association has gone on a spending spree to directly advertise its stated position on the Howard County document "Downtown Columbia: A Community Vision." In the past five days, the Columbia Association has published the letter (in the form of an ad) in the Columbia Flier, the Baltimore Examiner, and the Baltimore Sun. Content aside, I’m wondering why the Columbia Association decided to spend thousands of dollars on publicizing a letter to the Howard County government. Let’s face it; the letter could have been mailed at a cost of 41 cents ($0.41). I checked the open ad rates at the Flier, Examiner, and Sun; the cost to run full page ads in each are (respectively), $2778, $1711, and $3150. That adds up to more than $7500, or approximately 18,000 times more than the cost of a stamp to convey their message.

What was the motivation? What was the justification? What benefit was derived? I encourage all to contact the Columbia Association Board of Directors for answers.

If anyone in the HoCo Blogosphere has an idea, all comments and insight are welcome.


Tom Comeau said...

Running ads in those three places probably doesn't cover all the CA residents, but it does cover people who come and spend money in Columbia, but aren't CA residents.

I wouldn't get a mailing, because I live outside the CA coverage area. I do have an interest in what happens downtown, because I shop and eat there, and my daughter goes to CA camps.

Of course, my interests aren't precisely aligned with CA residents, but the CA Board may be counting on my support to get the County government to go along with their plans.


Dave Wissing said...

Heck, they could have just posted it on their website and sent an email containing the link to every member of the Howard County Government for free....

B. Santos said...


To be fair, they did post the letter on their website, and thier letter was covered in an article in the November 21, 2007 edition of the Baltimore Sun. Given these facts, it is even more puzzling why the ad blitz was carried out.

Anonymous said...

This was to promote a media circus. It was supposed to be to County officials. Did any of them actually get the letter? Did CA officials request a meeting to discuss concerns? Did the reps email/call thier particular Council reps? If CA was serious about results and not just publicity, we would see more substance and less fanfair and wasted dollars.

Anonymous said...

Is it that hard to grasp why $7,500 would be spent? The Board believed there was more than $7,500 in present value dollars to be gained by wider awareness of their requested changes to the framework.

In my case, it worked. The only reason I read their feedback to the County's framework was because it was in the paper.

There are only so many hours in a day. Sometimes the information needs to find the reader and not vice versa.

I think at $7,500 spent to cover Columbia's 100,000 residents, the 7.5 cents spent on my behalf was well spent, covering a good bit of what my slightly more modest 2 cents would have said, but couldn't have come anywhere close to affording publication-wise.