Content tagged “Media”

Hollywood Trucks to provide vehicles to Mississippi's largest studio

Baton Rouge-based Hollywood Trucks announced today that it has signed an exclusive five-year deal to provide production vehicles at Mississippi's largest studio, Mississippi Film Studios, located in Canton. The announcement of the company's expansion into the Mississippi market comes roughly five months after it entered the Georgia market with a deal to supply vehicles to Pinewood Atlanta Studios.
Mississippi Film Studios is a 43,000-square-foot facility, including 8,000 square feet of production offices and more than 35,000 square feet of soundstage space located on 6 acres.

'Business Report': Should your company have a policy on employee use of social media?

Social media usage is changing the way we work and interact. It is now the norm—for both business and personal use—and posts are about as plentiful as the air we breathe. Today, social media is playing a vital role in many inbound marketing strategies; so is it counterproductive to restrict employees' ability to share content and spread the company message, or is it wise to rein in their online usage? As Business Report details in its latest Case Study feature, there's no single policy that's right for every company. And while setting some parameters is necessary, overly restricting social media use can be counterproductive. So how do you craft a policy that protects your business from potential backlash caused by a rogue employee while still allowing workers to act as brand ambassadors? Business Report asked three local business professionals—Jennifer Anderson, partner at Jones Walker; Stan Levy, founder/CEO of Fuse; and Erin Kilgore, partner at Kean...

Talking Points: Will French

There were a few public disagreements at the Entertainment Industry Development Advisory Commission's most recent meeting in September, mostly about Louisiana Economic Development's allegedly poor management of the movie tax credit program and the fact that Baton Rouge is not a film "production center" under the current union contract, which locals say puts the city at a cost disadvantage against places like New Orleans that have the designation.

Game on

For at least a decade, California has watched its film business decline, as states like Louisiana lured productions with generous incentives. This year, California lawmakers decided to try to reverse the trend.

The name game

Where once .com, .org, .net and .biz prevailed, companies soon will have more than 1,000 generic top-level domains from which to choose to brand themselves online.

Should my company have a policy on employee use of social media? What should it say?

Social media usage is changing the way we work and interact. It is now the norm—for both business and personal use—and posts are about as plentiful as the air we breathe. Today, social media is playing a vital role in many inbound marketing strategies; so is it counterproductive to restrict employees' ability to share content and spread the company message, or is it wise to rein in their online usage? There's no single policy that's for every company. And while setting some parameters is necessary, overly restricting social media use can be counterproductive. So how do you craft a policy that protects your business from potential backlash caused by a rogue employee while still allowing workers to act as brand ambassadors? We asked three business professionals to weigh in on the subject.

5 tips from Mike VI's social media playbook

You probably don't know Ginger Guttner, but if you follow any of the official social media profiles of Mike VI, LSU's live mascot, then you've seen her work.

Council to consider changes to bus bench contracts

The Metro Council is scheduled to take up a measure Wednesday that could relieve the long-unresolved headaches of the three advertising companies that are unhappy with limits on their contracts to provide benches at bus stops around the city. The city-parish doesn't have to spend money on benches because companies don't charge anything for them. The companies even give the city-parish a cut of the money they make from ads placed on bench backrests. But the advertising companies can no longer put up benches on state roads, sites that would draw more revenue. The state Department of Transportation and Development took down some of the benches on state roads because they weren't properly credentialed with the city-parish, which had no codified way to approve them. Councilman Joel Boé is sponsoring the item to direct the city-parish to approve the state road benches. Boé says the council needs to "get back to the original mission as to why these agreements were approved," which was to...

Case Study: What can be done to manage online reviews of my company or product?

How your business leverages positive comments while managing negative reviews, and learning from them, is crucial to its success. Digital reviews are becoming increasingly influential, so Business Report recently asked three local business professionals—BlinkJar Media founder and CEO Jared Broussard; Covalent Logic CEO Stafford Kendall; and Gatorworks founder and President Brian Rodriguez—for their thoughts on the best way to manage an online reputation. Broussard suggests five tips for managing negative reviews, the first of which is just being aware of your online presence and reputation. Along with using tracking software and claiming your business profiles on review sites to best manage what people are saying, he says you should have a process in place for responding to negative reviews. "When your business responds to a negative review, it shows that your business cares and values feedback from the consumer," he says. The task of managing everything that's...

'Times-Pic' request for Kenner to rebid ad contract falls on deaf ears

The Kenner City Council has decided, for now at least, not to reconsider its selection of The New Orleans Advocate as the city's official journal of record. Earlier this month, NOLA Media Group, which owns The Times-Picayune/, accused Advocate President and COO Dan Shea of inflating the newspaper's circulation data in the New Orleans area and asked the Kenner council to reconsider the contract it awarded The New Orleans Advocate in June, making it the city's official newspaper. At its regular meeting Thursday night, however, council members cited an opinion from the Kenner city attorney, saying there is no legal reason to throw out The Advocate's bid. At least one council member also said circulation data was not the basis for awarding the contract. NOLA Media Group Executive Vice President David Francis, who testified at Thursday's...

Social media lessons from Mike the Tiger

You probably don't know Ginger Guttner, but if you follow any of the official social media profiles of Mike VI, LSU's live mascot, then you've seen her work. And that's the way Guttner likes it: She wants you to interact with Mike online and forget that she's the human being behind the tiger's tweets, Facebook posts and Instagram pictures. "People really get into the fact that they think they're talking directly to Mike, and I don't want to interfere with that," says Guttner, who shared with the Baton Rouge Social Media Association this afternoon the evolution of Mike's online presence since LSU first made an official Facebook page for him in 2010. "People want Mike, not the administrator." While that may seem obvious, Guttner says it wasn't back in 2010, when she "fell into the gig" of handling MIke's online presence as director of public relations for the LSU Veterinary School of Medicine. Today, Guttner cringes while recalling her first Facebook post on Mike's official page: a dry...

'Business Report': From humble beginnings in garage, PreSonus changing global music industry

"The sleek contoured interior of audio engineering company PreSonus Audio Electronics' office resembles the designs of the recording equipment, audio mixer boards, and speakers created within these walls. And although the company moved into its new 44,000-square-foot headquarters six months ago, the new-car smell has yet to wear off," reads the new Business Report cover story on the rapidly growing Baton Rouge company that got its start in a south Louisiana garage and has since gone global. PreSonus was launched by former high school and LSU classmates Jim Odom and Brian Smith in 1995. "Late into the night after their day jobs as engineers, they worked in a garage warehouse that was part of a sonar company owned by Odom's uncle," reads the cover story. It took about a year for Odom and Smith to create the first product that could digitally control the dynamics of an analog audio signal. At the time, the other options were in high-end equipment that cost more than $100,000.

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President/CEO, Livingston Parish Chamber of Commerce

With tech taking over in schools, bills arise across US to curtail data collection

This year alone, Louisiana was among 36 states that introduced new legislation on student information privacy and security, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan research group. And as The New York Times reports, the state's bill—which prohibits public school employees from collecting information about students' political or religious beliefs, family income, relationships with ministers or doctors, and gun ownership, as well as protects students or prospective students from having to give school officials access to their personal social media accounts or email addresses—was among about 30 bills passed nationwide. The bills are emerging as technology companies are collecting a vast amount of data about students, touching every corner of their educational lives—with few controls on how those details are used. Now California is poised to become the first state to comprehensively restrict how such information is exploited by the...

Garage to globe

The sleek contoured interior of audio engineering company PreSonus Audio Electronics resembles the designs of the recording equipment, audio mixer boards, and speakers created within these walls. And although the company moved into its new 44,000-square-foot headquarters six months ago, the new-car smell has yet to wear off.

'Times-Pic' accuses 'Advocate' of inflating NOLA area circulation numbers

NOLA Media Group, which owns The Times-Picayune/, has accused The Advocate of inflating its circulation data in the New Orleans area and is asking the Kenner City Council to reconsider the contract it awarded in June to The New Orleans Advocate, making it the city's official newspaper. In a letter sent Thursday to Kenner Mayor Michael Yenni, NOLA Media Group Executive Vice President David Francis says The Advocate's President and COO Dan Shea overstated the paper's New Orleans-area circulation for the first quarter of 2014 by 18% and for the second quarter by 22%. Francis says Shea also overstated Kenner circulation figures by 17% and 22% during the same periods. "Mr. Shea should have known these significantly lower figures," Francis writes. "Instead, he stood at the podium and told you inflated figures." Circulation data is important because the...

BR called 'gold standard' for downtown development by 'Clarion-Ledger'

Readers of Jackson, Mississippi's daily newspaper The Clarion-Ledger woke up Sunday morning to a glowing headline and front-page story about the success of downtown Baton Rouge's redevelopment over the past two decades. "Baton Rouge: From vacant to vibrant," reads the headline to the story, which goes on to report that "from a growing residential population to a booming hotel industry, downtown Baton Rouge is accomplishing what Jackson leaders have envisioned for the heart of their own city: a renaissance." For Downtown Development District Executive Director Davis Rhorer, the story was an unexpected surprise and a welcome shot of free publicity. "They interviewed me back in the summer," Rhorer says. "I had no idea when the story was coming out. It's just great for Baton Rouge." Read the full story. —Stephanie Riegel

States taking divergent paths on film tax credits; La. benefits

Even before North Carolina officially pulls the plug on its film tax incentive program, Louisiana may be the beneficiary of that state's decision to stop offering a 25% refundable tax credit on film-related expenditures. According to online news service StarNews in Wilmington, Cinemax elected to shoot the fourth season of its crime series Banshee in Louisiana, which offers a 30% credit on expenditures in excess of $300,000. StarNews reports Banshee spent more than $67 million in North Carolina in its second season. Christopher Stelly, executive director for Louisiana Entertainment for Louisiana Economic Development, said he had seen the report about Banshee relocating to Louisiana, but that is news to his office. “I have not been notified by any of the production executives for the series Banshee on relocating fully to Louisiana. The production has always planned to shoot in Louisiana for a week or so in September of this year as listed...

Industry observers don't expect states like La. to follow North Carolina in axing film tax credits

As Louisiana debates the merits of its own film tax credit and other states such as California are looking to substantially boost funding for such credits, North Carolina may be exiting the Hollywood stage. As The Los Angeles Times reports, North Carolina state legislators opted last week not to renew its program despite heavy lobbying by the local film industry to preserve the incentives. The decision not only was a big blow to North Carolina's film industry but also underscores the growing scrutiny that film subsidies are receiving nationwide. Other states have also voted to eliminate or curtail their film programs by imposing caps and reducing funding. Michigan and New Mexico, for example, took steps to scale back their programs, and Iowa scrapped its program in 2009 after an audit identified widespread abuses. Still, 39 states offer some form of tax credit, rebate or grant. Will some of those states now follow North Carolina's lead? Not likely, industry observers say. "I...

Georges talks about decision to build new BR headquarters, newsroom

Several factors were behind publisher John Georges' decision to build a new corporate headquarters for The Advocate on the site of the newspaper's Reiger Road printing presses. “You can't ever put a single reason on a decision I make,” Georges tells Daily Report. “But one of the main factors is that I prefer always to own buildings rather than rent them, if possible. Call me old-fashioned.” Georges today announced his plans to build a three-story, 48,500-square-foot building that will house the newsroom for the Baton Rouge Advocate, as well as the business offices for all three editions of The Advocate. Georges declines to say what he plans to spend on the new building, but the market rate averages between $200- and $300-per-square-foot for new office building construction, which could put the price tag in the range of $10 million to $15 million. The high visibility of the site—which can easily be seen off Interstate 10 at the...

WBRZ hires anchor to replace Vann on '2une In'

WBRZ News 2 has hired Kylie Dixon as longtime anchor Whitney Vann's replacement on the station's 2une In show. Dixon, who is coming to Baton Rouge from KXII News in Sherman, Texas, will make a cameo appearance on the show Wednesday, and will begin co-anchoring the show with John Pastorek on Friday. Vann, who announced she is stepping away from the program in June, has co-anchored it for the past 17 years—the longest anyone has hosted a morning show in Baton Rouge, WBRZ says. “I've had an amazing 17 years hosting 2une In. But it is time to pass the baton in Baton Rouge to someone else,” Vann says in a prepared statement. “I know the station did a nationwide search for that special someone who would be the perfect fit on 2une In. Kylie is that person. I look forward to welcoming her on 2une In and introducing her to our loyal...

'Business Report': Is La.'s billion-dollar investment in film an economic boon or fiscal drain?

In 2002, Louisiana enacted a relatively modest Motion Picture Investor Tax Credit Program. Since then, lawmakers have expanded the program into arguably the most generous in the country. As Business Report details in its new cover story, the incentive program has made film and television a nearly billion-dollar industry in the state. Without question, the program has been wildly successful in attracting movie productions. In 2013, Louisiana hosted more major studio feature films than any other state, including California. Overall, Louisiana is competing with Georgia to be the No. 3 state in film production behind California and New York. Film incentives are doled out as tax credits; they're not really "tax breaks." Films typically are produced by single-serving limited liability corporations with out-of-state owners that don't have Louisiana tax liability. Producers can sell the credits on the open market or back to the state at 85% of face value. "It's not an investment,"...

Becoming a media darling

From time to time, business owners and professionals will get a call from a reporter who wants to quote you as an expert for a story, review your product, or invite you to write an exclusive article for a publication. It can be a major coup. It means that your marketing efforts are paying off.

Flimflam and fraud

Show business has a long history of, shall we say, "creative" accounting, while Louisiana government is known for a somewhat flexible approach to ethics.

Figuring out the ROI

So what's the ROI? It's complicated.

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Dean, LSU College of Engineering

Louisiana's billion-dollar investment in film:

In 1987, director Taylor Hackford and actor Dennis Quaid came to Baton Rouge to make Everybody's All American, about fictional 1950s football hero Gavin Grey. It wasn't the first big-budget movie to shoot in Louisiana, but the film business was pretty much a novelty here, and thousands of locals served as extras or body doubles.

'Times-Pic' adds Monday, Saturday print editions for fall

The Times-Picayune has announced it will publish two extra printed editions per week during the upcoming football and holiday shopping seasons. In a letter to readers, published online on Saturday and on the front page of the printed, Sunday edition of The Times-Picayune, the paper announced that as of Sept. 6 it will begin offering "bonus editions" on Mondays and Saturdays to its three-day, home-delivery subscribers at no additional cost. "The bonus edition will contain a full lineup of news, sports and entertainment news produced by Louisiana's largest news organization for the state's largest audience," the statement says. "Our readers' interest peaks in the fall and so does our advertisers' desire to reach them. So we are expanding our print coverage to meet the heightened reader intensity and to serve our advertisers, who depend on us to serve their customers." The move comes a little more than two years after the beloved New Orleans daily inflamed...

What book would you recommend to other executives?

by M. Walter Levine
"It talks about making a difference, helping people and going the extra mile. I am a firm believer that people buy from people. This book focuses on the people aspect of business. Building relationships with your customers is very important to success. My customers trust that I am going to do what I say and will fulfill their expectations with our products. They know that I will go the extra mile to ensure they are satisfied with the purchase and that we build a quality product that I will stand behind."
Chris Ferrara, president and CEO, Ferrara Fire Apparatus

Exploring the third dimension

3-D is no longer just for movies.
It has grabbed the attention of marketing firms, artists and other creative types in the Capital Region.
The technology enables them to design a digital 3-D object with computer-aided design software or scan a three-dimensional object with a 3-D scanner, then create that solid object with a 3-D printer. The technology has advanced rapidly and is now affordable enough to be widely available.

Ready to launch

You've spent months—maybe years—working on your business plan, dreaming about turning your idea into a reality. And now that your new product or store is within sight, how are you going to tell the world—or at least your target customers—about it?

CFX unmasked

CFX is the kind of company where the chief creative officer and media relations person can leave, suddenly, to attend the birth of her sister's child and have one of the founders step in to tell the story of how high-quality, horror masks came to be made in a mini warehouse on Pecue Lane.
As his wife, Diana, headed up the road to Woman's Hospital, CFX co-founder Wes Branton, 31, took off his production cap to talk about how he and partner Ken Decker, 33, started CFX eight years ago.

'Business Report': Is John Georges' big gamble on 'The Advocate' paying off?

A little over a year ago, John Georges launched an experiment that flew in the face of conventional wisdom: He bought The Advocate, a daily newspaper, and instead of going digital, like many other newspapers around the country, he expanded his print product and took it regional. As Business Report editor Stephanie Riegel details in the magazine's new cover story, the New Orleans businessman has spent untold millions in the 15 months since to change the paper, grow it and develop a new business model built around publishing three distinct editions of the paper every day and delivering them to readers in New Orleans, Baton Rouge and Lafayette. "Along the way, he has brought in new management, hired top-flight journalists with well-known bylines, and rolled out an aggressive marketing and advertising campaign," Riegel writes. "He even bought a historic building in New Orleans' Central Business District that will serve as the chic new headquarters for The New Orleans...

'Times-Pic' pulls out of La. Press Association, associate publisher resigns from LPA board

The Times-Picayune/ has pulled out of the Louisiana Press Association, and David Francis, associate publisher of The Times-Picayune/NOLA Media Group, has resigned his position from the LPA board of directors. The newspaper notified the LPA of its decision in a brief letter dated Wednesday, July 2, that does not offer an explanation. Francis declines to comment on the situation. But LPA board members say they assume the move has its roots, at least in part, in the controversy that took place earlier this year when The Advocate successfully lobbied the Legislature to change state law so that it could compete to publish lucrative classified legal ads and public notices in Orleans and Jefferson parishes. The Times-Picayune/ fought the change. The LPA board met in February before the session and voted 6-5 to oppose the legislation. By the next day, the LPA board reversed its decision and, on another 6-5 vote, decided to remain neutral on the...

The future of print

Although John Georges got national publicity by increasing The Advocate's presence in New Orleans, that wasn't the only place he expanded.

Keeping the home fires burning

An abiding principle in military strategy is, "Never fight a war on two fronts."

John Georges' big gamble

A little over a year ago, John Georges launched an experiment that flew in the face of conventional wisdom: He bought The Advocate, a daily newspaper, and instead of going digital, like other newspapers around the country, he expanded his printed product and took it regional.

Businesses grow as Hollywood embraces La.

A batch of big-budget films is set to be shot in Louisiana over the summer as the state's investment in a tax credit program draws cost-conscious producers. Among planned shoots are Fantastic Four and Pitch Perfect 2—both in Baton Rouge—as well as Terminator 5 and Jurassic World, the fourth film in the Jurassic Park series. Television series such as NCIS: New Orleans and American Horror Story: Freak Show are also being shot in the state this summer. The flurry of activity is encouraging entrepreneurs who provide services for production companies, in turn creating jobs. Louisiana ranked ahead of California—and anywhere else—in the number of live-action movie shoots in a study of 2013 releases from Hollywood's largest studios. Chris Stelly, executive director of Louisiana Entertainment, the state-run film office, says officials certified nearly $810 million in production company spending on 123 projects in 2013...

Executive Editor: Kleinpeter Farms Dairy takes on crisis management in textbook style

Business Report Executive Editor David Dodson says in his latest column that one of the key things he learned from his days on "the dark side"—that is, the years he spent as a public relations executive—"is that a crisis doesn't have to be totally bad news." Dodson says he was reminded of that lesson recently while Business Report Editor Stephanie Riegel was preparing her story on Kleinpeter Farms Dairy. (If you haven't read the story yet, you can find it online here or in the current issue of the magazine.) "Management at Kleinpeter played an absolutely textbook version of crisis management, although one could quibble that they waited until we showed up on their doorstep to deploy it," Dodson writes. "The very first chapter in that book teaches, 'People have to know that you care before they care what you know.' And Kleinpeter did a good job of connecting with customers and the...

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Executive director, Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board, and host of Saturday Style' on Talk 107.3

A walk on the dark side

Back in 1994, I was sitting in a coffee shop on Connecticut Avenue in Washington, D.C., with an old school chum (who happens to work for The Advocate these days). I was seeking his counsel on whether to leave journalism and cross over to what I and my fellow journalists refer to as "the dark side"—public relations.

Hollywood Trucks expanding into Ga., inks deal with Atlanta area studio

Baton Rouge-based Hollywood Trucks announced today that it is expanding into Georgia and has signed an exclusive five-year deal to provide Pinewood Atlanta Studios with production vehicles. Under terms of the deal, the financial details of which were not disclosed, Hollywood Trucks' entire fleet of trucks, trailers and specialty production equipment will be available at the studio. Pinewood Atlanta Studios is a full-service film and entertainment studio complex that comprises five sound stages on 288 acres in Fayetteville, Georgia, just south of Atlanta. "Our expansion into Georgia is a key milestone in the history of Hollywood Trucks," says CEO Andre Champagne in a prepared statement. "'Hollywood South' has seen tremendous growth in recent years, reflected by the record-breaking number of film and television projects developed in Louisiana and Georgia. This environment has enabled companies like Hollywood Trucks and Pinewood Atlanta Studios to partner and innovate." Since being...

Who's on the board?

This out-of-home advertising firm has more than 200 locations across the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Lamar specializes in billboards, digital, transit and highway logo signs.


Avery and Lauren Davidson both love their full-time jobs at, respectively, Louisiana Farm Bureau and Our Lady of the Lake Regional Medical Center.

'Times-Pic' turns up the heat in war of words with the 'Advocate'

While a bill that would allow The New Orleans Advocate to compete for lucrative government classified ads in Orleans and Jefferson parishes is steamrolling its way through the Legislature, The Times-Picayune—which is fighting the proposed legislation—is ratcheting up the rhetoric in its ongoing battle with the daily. In a letter sent yesterday to The Advocate's general manager Dan Shea and shared with members of a legislative committee as well as the Louisiana Press Association, The Times-Picayune's Associate Publisher David Francis challenges testimony Shea gave before a legislative committee earlier this week while making the case for why his paper should be allowed to compete for the classifieds business. During the testimony, Shea cited the growth of The New Orleans...

Lamar gets IRS approval for REIT conversion

Lamar Advertising Co. has received approval from the Internal Revenue Service to convert to a Real Estate Investment Trust, the Baton Rouge-based company announced today via a press release. The conversion, which shareholders still need to approve, is expected to be made effective as of Jan. 1 of this year. REIT status allows a company to avoid paying corporate-level income taxes if it distributes at least 90% of its taxable income to shareholders in the form of dividends. As a REIT, Lamar says it will be allowed to treat its outdoor advertising displays as real property for tax purposes, noting some of its assets and operations will continue to be subject to state and federal corporate income taxes. "Furthermore, assets and operations outside the United States will continue to be subject to foreign taxes in the...

'Business Report': Battle between 'Advocate' and 'Times-Pic' over legal notices goes to Capitol

In a legislative session dominated by debates over the hot-button issue of Common Core, a series of bills that would change state law to allow The New Orleans Advocate to compete for government classified ads in Orleans and Jefferson parishes hasn't made big headlines. But then, as Editor Stephanie Riegel notes in a new Business Report magazine feature, newspapers often shy away from calling attention to themselves. "Still, the proposed legislation—which would remove the requirement that a newspaper publish in a parish for five years before it can bid on public and legal notices in Orleans and Jefferson—is worth following as it makes its way through the legislative process," writes Riegel. For one thing, it's the latest skirmish in the ongoing media war between the state's two largest newspapers. They've been locked in competition since the fall of 2012, when The Advocate entered the New Orleans market and began aggressively going after subscribers...

In conversation: Sam Irwin

Our tail-pinching, head-sucking love of crawfish might be a little odd, but it's not new, as writer Sam Irwin explains in his latest work. Irwin was raised in Breaux Bridge, in the cradle of Louisiana crawfish culture. His grandfather, Joe Amy (pronounced ah-mee), was an industry pioneer, dealing crawfish from Amy's Fisheries in Henderson as early as 1932. Louisiana Crawfish is available online from The History Press, and at better bookstores and bait shops.

A legals war

In a legislative session dominated by debates over the hot-button issue of Common Core, a series of bills that would change state law to allow The New Orleans Advocate to compete for government classified ads in Orleans and Jefferson parishes hasn't made big news. But then, newspapers often shy away from calling attention to themselves.

HBO taps BR firm for 'Game of Thrones' licensing deal

Baton Rouge-based specialty masks and prop maker Composite Effects, or CFX, has landed a licensing deal with HBO to mass-produce products for the popular show Game of Thrones. As 225 reports, the company's "White Walker" costume masks, based on mythological characters from the show, are set for a spring 2014 release. "This is a huge deal," says CFX sculptor and media relations director Diana Branton. "HBO is very specific and careful about how they license things. They have high standards. They would rather not offer a product than offer something that's merely OK. They've set the bar in product licensing." Branton says work on the White Walker silicone mask and costume pieces began during season 3 of the popular HBO series. Read the full story. —Matthew Sigur

Spreading the message

As the longtime publisher of Tiger Bucks—a coupon booklet targeted to LSU students that offers discounts and deals at local restaurants, shops and service providers—Carol Thomas has a unique perspective on small businesses. Not only does she operate a small business herself, so do most of the clients who advertise in her publication.

Religious-themed movie shot and produced in B.R. stuns industry with fast opening

Film industry experts were more than a little surprised when they got a look at last weekend's box office numbers and saw the locally produced, faith-based film God's Not Dead finished at No. 5, grossing nearly $9 million. "The box office was shocked," says Patrick Mulhearn, director of Celtic Studios, where the movie's production offices were based. "It's especially impressive, considering the film only cost about $1 million to produce." Perhaps no one was more surprised than its producer, Baton Rouge-native Jared Coates, who thought it would do well but is amazed at how it has exceeded everyone's expectations. The movie tells the story of a Christian student at a secular college who debates his atheist philosophy professor over the existence of God. Coates, who has been involved with the production of more than 30 films but counts this as his first big success, believes the film resonated with moviegoers because "people want a film that can touch your heart, challenge your...

Freshening up the brand

At the start of the new year, CC's Coffee House came into its own.

La. film industry promotes Pelican State at SXSW

When the artsy and techie hipsters of the world attending South by Southwest checked into their Austin hotel rooms earlier this week, many found a "Do Not Disturb" sign already hanging from their doors. The bright blue and white door hangers were courtesy of Louisiana, which created them as a way to plug the state's movie and digital arts industries. "Lights. Camera. Louisiana!" read the signs. "With state of the art facilities, a wealth of talent and competitive incentive programs, Louisiana is the perfect location for your next production. Let's connect while you're here." The marketing gimmick was the brainchild of Louisiana Entertainment Executive Director Chris Stelly, who says for several years the state attended the conference—now billed as the biggest music, film and digital interactive gathering in the world—but it took 2013 off. "This year we went back to reconnect and decided at the last minute to do these door hangers," he says. "They created...

Entrepreneur: David Maples and Virginia Huling

David Maples moved with Virginia Huling to Baton Rouge in August 2007 to begin his studies at the LSU law center. He did, in fact, enroll as a full-time student. Yet "the minute we came down here," says Maples, "I looked at Virginia and said, 'Why don't we just go into business for ourselves?'" As Business Report details in its new Entrepreneur feature on Maples and Huling—who are CEO and president of Catapult Creative Media Inc., respectively—the two met at the University of Georgia, where he'd double-majored in marketing and management, she in fine art and animation. Later, in Atlanta, Huling was a designer for a Fortune 100 company, while Maples prospered at outside sales. The newcomers to the Capital City perceived it was "behind the curve in Web design." So drawing on their savings, they incorporated Drift Web Design on Sept. 11, 2007. Belatedly, Maples approached the vice chancellor for permission to work at the startup while a student: "Here's what we're...

When China cinema calls

Celtic Studios Executive Director Patrick Mulhearn had a surprise when he recently checked his LinkedIn account: two messages from headhunters asking him to apply for the top job at the largest movie studio in China.

Behind the camera

Lee Meredith (right) is the new vice president and general manager of WAFB-TV and its sister station, WBXH, replacing Sandy Breland, who moved on to WVUE in New Orleans. He comes to Baton Rouge from WMC, a fellow Raycom Media station in Memphis.

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Chief marketing officer, Global Data Systems Inc.

What are the biggest email marketing pitfalls to avoid?

No one wants an email they just spent precious time perfecting to end up in a recipient's digital trashcan. Eight in 10 people say the marketing emails they receive go mainly to their primary personal email account, displayed alongside their personal emails, according to a 2012 Blue Kangaroo Survey on Marketing Emails. With the opportunity to reach so many potential customers, what are the biggest email marketing pitfalls to avoid? We asked three local experts for their advice.

David Maples and Virginia Huling

David Maples moved with Virginia Huling to Baton Rouge in August 2007 to begin his studies at the LSU Law Center.

'Advocate' publisher: We can take half of 'Times-Pic' readers

In a wide-ranging interview with LaPolitics released today, John Georges, publisher of The Advocate, ratchets up the rhetoric in the ongoing newspaper war with The Times-Picayune by comparing his competitor to "new Coke" and predicting his newspaper can take half of its readers. Georges—who also says in the interview that he has not ruled out another run for governor in 2015—says that The Advocate's circulation numbers in New Orleans are "just about where I want them to be, maybe a couple months behind." Georges says there are between 25,000 and 30,000 paid subscribers in New Orleans now, adding "we were less than half of that when we started," and "we're on record to double those numbers." As for the changes The Times-Picayune and its website,, have undergone over the past year and a half, Georges says: "The...

'Parish Heat' looking for greater online presence as print publication ceases

After circulating just six issues, Parish Heat—a biweekly newspaper highlighting local arrest records and mugshots—ceased print publication in December but continues to post news on arrests in East Baton Rouge Parish via its Facebook page, says publisher Tony Modica. The newspaper published its first edition in early September, but Modica says he quickly found that managing distribution of the print publication was not feasible. "We honestly thought that 20,000 copies would be enough to blanket Baton Rouge," Modica says, "but the interest was a whole lot more than we thought. We got so many phone calls asking, 'how come I didn't get one over here?' [Distribution] was almost a harder job than getting the stuff together." While Parish Heat's Facebook page has gained some traction—5,000 followers without active promotion—Modica says the...

Chinese have eye on Celtic Studios director as movie industry grows ever more global

Celtic Studios Executive Director Patrick Mulhearn had a surprise when he checked his LinkedIn account earlier this week: messages from two different headhunters asking him to apply for the top job at the largest movie studio in China. It could be seen as a local example of how closely the Chinese are watching the U.S. movie industry—and with good reason. By 2020, China is expected to surpass the U.S. in terms of film consumption, and statistics show that several new cinemas are built in that country every day. What's more, while 80% of U.S. film industry revenues were generated domestically just a decade ago, with 20% coming from overseas markets, that ratio is reversed today—and China is one of the biggest foreign consumers. That helps explain why so many of the movies produced now—including several that were shot in Baton Rouge at Celtic Studios—are reboots or sequels of the action/adventure variety. "When the DVD market dried up, the foreign market became...

Celtic takes over management of B.R. studios from Raleigh

The Celtic Group has terminated its management agreement with Raleigh Studios and is now managing Celtic Media Centre studio operations at the Airline Highway facility through its Celtic Studios subsidiary. The studios at Celtic have since 2007 been managed—at least in name—by Raleigh Studios, an independent studio based in Hollywood, Calif., with satellite facilities around the country. "It was basically like a franchise agreement," says Patrick Mulhearn, whose title is now executive director of Celtic Studios. "Early on it made a lot of sense to have that relationship because it gave a comfort level to filmmakers. They knew what to expect because of the Raleigh brand." But over time, officials with Celtic, which is locally owned, realized they no longer needed Raleigh's name. "We kind of reevaluated during the year and decided it was time we stood on our own two feet," Mulhearn says. As a practical matter, the management change will not mean much in terms of day-to-day...


227 Florida St., Baton Rouge
CEO: Sevetri Wilson
Founded: Jan. 15, 2014

Louisiana Digital Media Center dedicated on LSU campus

More than three years after ground was broken on the $29.3 million, 94,000-square-foot Louisiana Digital Media Center at the LSU campus, officials from the university, state and Electronic Arts Inc. convened today to formally dedicate the facility. The center serves as the permanent home of the EA North American Test Center—which occupies about 30,000 square feet in the building—as well as the LSU Center for Computation and Technology, which will encompass about 50,000 square feet. The LSU CCT's Arts, Visualization, Advanced Technologies and Research initiative—or AVATAR—is also based in the center, which includes instructional space with audio/visual capabilities to support LSU's academic research efforts related to digital media and software development. In total, about 190 LSU CCT faculty, staff and students will be located in the center, and another roughly 200 students are expected to use the center's facilities and classrooms each week. "Such companies...

The negative online review

Anyone who has ever Googled a product and clicked on "reviews" before buying it knows how important online feedback has become to business.

Local business owner goes DIY with Super Bowl commercial

Shortly before kickoff of Sunday's Super Bowl, local salad dressing manufacturer Richard Hanley decided he would make his own halftime commercial and send it out to friends and followers on Facebook, Twitter and email. The 30-second spot only got a few hundred views, but considering that Hanley produced it himself at no charge while fiddling around on his laptop, it wasn't a bad way to pass the time during the lackluster first half of the game. "I thought it would be cool to have my own Super Bowl halftime ad," says Hanley, who has a background in advertising. Though Hanley says he would never spend the $8 million it cost to air a 30-second spot during Super Bowl XLVIII even if he had it to spend, his company, Hanley's Foods, hasn't needed to spend much on advertising so far. Since it began manufacturing, bottling and selling an all-natural sensation salad dressing last spring, sales have skyrocketed and the...

Bo Duke actor opens production studio in Holden

Actor and singer John Schneider, perhaps best known for playing Bo Duke in The Dukes of Hazzard television series, has opened a production studio in Holden. John Schneider Studios boasts a 5,000-square-foot soundstage, two homes suitable for filming locations and a large swimming pool, Schneider says in a news release. Plans are to add post production sound and editing capabilities by May, along with an on-site chef and residences for key crew members "which would assist with project flow and consistency allowing staff to live on premises in a focused and convenient working environment with minimal distractions," the release says. Schneider touts the studio's location in the release, saying it not only provides river, lake and swamp filming opportunities, but it is also conveniently situated between Baton Rouge and New Orleans, both of which have become hubs for filming projects in recent years. —Staff report

Lee Meredith tapped to head WAFB

Raycom Media has named Lee Meredith as the new vice president and general manager of WAFB and its sister station, WBXH. Meredith comes to the local CBS affiliate from Raycom's NBC affiliate in Memphis, WMC, where he has been vice president and GM since 2006. "I'm truly honored to be joining the team at WAFB," says Meredith, who previously headed Raycom stations in Huntsville, Ala., and Columbia, S.C. "I'm a longtime Raycom Media employee and being in the company a long time, I'm well aware of the great track record WAFB has established in this community. I'm looking forward to continuing those traditions." Meredith was among the station officials and dignitaries on hand this morning for ribbon-cutting ceremonies marking completion of the downtown station's $1 million studio and office renovation. He joined Raycom President and CEO Paul McTear, Gov. Bobby Jindal and outgoing GM Sandy Breland, who was recently promoted to regional vice president and GM of WVUE-TV in New Orleans, which...

Independent film begins shooting in B.R.

Baton Rouge will be home to an independent film crew and its stars for about a month. Principal photography began Tuesday on Zipper, a movie starring Patrick Wilson (The Conjuring, Insidious) and Lena Headey (Game of Thrones), and directed by Mora Stephens. The cast also includes Richard Dreyfuss. The feature is scheduled to shoot in Baton Rouge through Feb. 24, according to Baton Rouge Film Commission Executive Director Liza Kelso. Film crews were seen shooting off Highland Road on Tuesday, near the intersection of Nelson Drive. The film revolves around the story of a successful U.S. Attorney who is groomed for a Senate position, but then becomes involved in a dark situation that could destroy everything he has. Zipper is one of three previously announced movies slated to begin production soon in Baton Rouge. Bad Ass 3, starring Danny Trejo (Machete) and Danny Glover (Lethal Weapon series), will be shot in the city between Feb.

Two films shot in La. up for Best Picture Oscar

Of the nine films up for the Best Picture award at the 86th Academy Awards, two were shot in Louisiana, mostly in the New Orleans area. 12 Years a Slave and Dallas Buyers Club are among the Best Picture nominees announced this morning, and that's not the only award the Louisiana-shot films are competing for. 12 Years a Slave, based on the 1853 novel by Solomon Northup about his experience as a slave in Louisiana, garnered a total of nine nominations, including best picture, best director, best actor and best supporting actor, and others. Dallas Buyers Club, which is based on the true story of a homophobic AIDS patient who built an underground business dealing with non-FDA approved anti-AIDS drugs, is up for seven Oscars total. Other movies up for Best Picture are Gravity, American Hustle, Captain Phillips, Her, Nebraska, Philomena and The Wolf of Wall Street.

Stelly: La. film industry now competing on global scale

In 2012 more than $1.1 billion in business sales were generated in Louisiana due to entertainment-industry projects, according to an economic impact study commissioned by Louisiana Entertainment, which is part of LED. Speaking to the Alexandria Rotary Club on Tuesday, Louisiana Entertainment Executive Director Chris Stelly said film, TV and other productions also supported 15,000 jobs in 2012 and generated more than $770 million in earnings, The Town Talk reports. "The economic benefits of these programs are tremendous," Stelly said. "It's amazing what this industry does for our state." The state of Louisiana offers tax credits in four areas—motion picture, digital interactive media, sound recording and live performance. By far, film and TV makes up the biggest piece of the state's entertainment pie, Stelly said. Reality TV, of course, has been one of Louisiana's most notable recent exports, though Stelly said series such as Duck Dynasty and Swamp People...

Nussbaum leaving WBRZ to join WWL-TV in N.O.

Friday will be Dave Nussbaum's last day on the air at WBRZ-TV. The local meteorologist, who has anchored the weathercasts on Channel 2's morning and noon shows for more than a decade, is moving to WWL-TV in New Orleans. "We will miss him," says WBRZ News Director Chuck Bark, who hired Nussbaum in 2002. "He has been an important part of the team for a number of years, but it is a good opportunity for him." New Orleans is a significantly larger media market than is Baton Rouge. The Crescent City is the 53rd largest market in the U.S., while Baton Rouge is 95th. Bark says WBRZ is looking at several potential replacements for Nussbaum, both on staff and from the outside, and "will make an announcement fairly soon." In a Facebook post today, Nussbaum says he will start work at WWL next week, handling the noon and 5 p.m. weather reports. —Stephanie Riegel

Mary Hurlbert Stein

Asked what she "geeks," Mary Stein replies, "Music and design and enthusiasm!" The nationwide Geek the Library campaign is one of many successful programs Stein has implemented as assistant director of EBR Parish Library. Stein embraces the program's basic theme: that whatever you "geek," or are passionate about, the public library supports. "When I do sound bites," she says, "I say, 'Libraries change lives. Libraries mean business. Libraries provide access. Libraries build communities.' " Nearly 30 years ago, with a master's degree in library science from LSU, Stein joined the staff of EBRPL in a "step 1" position in Circulation and Adult Services. "I had wonderful mentors throughout the staff of EBRPL," she says, "and I was fortunate enough not only to move up in rank but also to learn so much in every assignment." The mother of two sons and longtime choir member at St. Joseph Cathedral, Stein provided steady, visionary leadership during 2011 and 2012, serving as co-director with...

Local law firm now accepting Bitcoin for payment

Local real estate attorney Bryan G. Jeansonne kicked off the new year with a new way of doing business. On Wednesday, Jeansonne's firm, Dore Jeansonne, began accepting the digital currency Bitcoin as a method of payment, along with more traditional modes of payment like credit cards and personal checks. "A lot of people find it easier to use than regular currency," says Jeansonne, explaining why his firm decided to begin accepting Bitcoin. For those unfamiliar with the technology, Bitcoin is a four-year-old electronic currency that in many ways functions like any other currency. It was created by a software developer and is accepted as payment by a growing number of merchants, both online and in the real world. What makes Bitcoin unique is that it is decentralized and no single institution controls the Bitcoin network. Jeansonne says for his clients there are a couple of potential advantages to using the digital currency. "There are a lot fewer fees than payment processing companies...

Season Vining

Occupation: Novelist
Hometown: Baton Rouge
Age: 36

Websites work to nix nasty comments

Mix blatant bigotry with poor spelling. Add a dash of ALL CAPS. Top it off with a violent threat. And there you have it: a recipe for the worst of online comments, scourge of the Internet. The Associated Press reports a growing number of websites are reining in the Wild West of online commentary. Companies including Google and the Huffington Post are trying everything from deploying moderators to forcing people to use their real names in order to restore civil discourse. Some sites, such as Popular Science, are banning comments altogether. Locally, The Advocate changed the way it displays readers comments this year to decrease anonymity and identify readers through their Facebook accounts. These and other efforts put sites in a delicate position. User comments add a lively, fresh feel to videos, stories and music. And, of course, the longer visitors stay to read the posts, and the more they come back, the more a site can charge for advertising. What websites don't want is the...

Jumping markets

WAFB General Manager Sandy Breland is leaving the local CBS affiliate to become vice president and general manager of WVUE-TV in New Orleans. Raycom Media, which owns WAFB, will begin providing operational services this month at WVUE,

One love, one lawsuit

Bob Marley's family apparently has little love for Raising Cane's. Fifty-Six Hope Road, owned by Marley's widow and children, has asked a federal court in Massachusetts to permanently stop the fried chicken finger chain from using the phrase "One Love"—which also happens to be the title of the reggae songwriter's immortal ballad—in its promotions.

2016 hopefuls make bid for evangelicals by embracing 'Duck Dynasty' star

Few could have predicted that the storylines of the hit A&E reality show Duck Dynasty and the 2016 presidential contest would ever converge. But as The Washington Post reports, that unexpected mash-up played out on Thursday as conservative politicians rushed to defend Phil Robertson, the shaggy-bearded, homespun star of the breakout series, who was suspended by the cable network after his published comments about gays stirred a storm of controversy. Gov. Bobby Jindal was among the first politicians to wade into the controversy—going to bat for the Robertson family personally and criticising A&E for its move to take Phil off the show—but he wasn't the only one. Republican Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, another probable 2016 candidate, chimed in on Facebook, writing: "If you believe in free speech or religious liberty, you should be deeply dismayed over the...

Eight former workers sue 'Times-Picayune' and parent company

Eight former employees of The Times-Picayune have sued the newspaper and parent Advance Publications Inc., alleging their layoffs violated a longstanding "job security pledge" and age discrimination laws. The Associated Press reports the plaintiffs were 46 to 59 years old when they lost jobs ranging from warehouse worker to reporter in June and September 2012. They either were not allowed to apply or applied unsuccessfully for lower-paid replacement jobs, according to lawsuits filed on Wednesday and Friday last week in Orleans Parish Civil District Court. Times-Picayune publisher Ricky Mathews did not immediately respond to a request for comment from the AP. The plaintiffs are: Keith Catalanotto, 53; Patricia Gonzalez, 59; Aileen Kelly, 50; Vivian Hernandez, 50; Jeanne Woods, 60; Ulpiano Lugo, 50; Stephanie Stroud Naylor, 47; and Patricia Pitt, 49. All the plaintiffs said they relied on a longstanding company pledge not to fire non-union workers because of economic or...

WAFB general manager leaving for WVUE-TV in New Orleans

WAFB General Manager Sandy Breland is leaving her post at the local CBS affiliate to become vice president and general manager of WVUE-TV in New Orleans. The announcement came in a release from Raycom Media, which owns WAFB and, as of this month, will begin providing operational services at WVUE, the Fox affiliate in New Orleans owned by Tom Benson's Louisiana Media Company. "Sandy is the perfect choice to lead and grow this station," says Paul McTear, president and CEO of Raycom Media. "She knows New Orleans and served the people of that community during some of the more challenging times in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina." Breland, a native of New Orleans, spent more than 20 years in the New Orleans broadcast market, the majority of that time at WWL-TV. She joined WAFB in the summer of 2008. She will continue her role as Raycom regional vice president, with managerial oversight of the company's Louisiana stations, WAFB, KSLA in Shreveport, and KPLC in Lake Charles. Raycom is...

Council considers giving bus bench contractors access to state rights of way in exchange for tighter restrictions

Although a new franchise agreement with bus bench company National Concrete Industries was OK'd by the Metro Council at Wednesday's meeting, a potentially crucial aspect of the contract was removed just before it was approved. Article 11 of the agreement would have permitted National Concrete Industries to place bus benches on state rights of way, a privilege that two other franchisees with bus bench contracts, Geaux Benches and Giraffe Advertising, do not enjoy under their current agreements. State highways running through Baton Rouge include Florida Boulevard, Airline Highway, and O'Neal Lane. Because National Concrete Industries' new contract is far more restrictive than the other two—capping the number of benches they can put out at 300, prohibiting advertisements related to alcohol, cigarettes and/or gambling, and limiting bench placement to a 30-degree angle from the road...

Marie Desormeaux Centanni

"I'll share two pieces of advice—one that helped me start my business and a second that's helping to guide our growth. The first was from lobbyist Randy Haynie. I visited with him after finishing grad school, and he said if the opportunity presented itself to work on a contract basis rather than as a direct employee, take it. That way, you can focus on projects that will best put your talents to use, control your workload and manage free time for your family. I also stick to something Chris Rader of Rader Solutions in Lafayette told me: Be Mary Poppins, practically perfect in every way! In other words, no matter what's going on, give clients your best self. Don't let stress from one client affect your demeanor with another. Always deliver your best work, and if you make a mistake, make it right."


When the Metro Council voted earlier this month to remove from its agenda a Florida company's request for a bus bench franchise, many breathed a sigh of relief.

Businesses should consider spending part of advertising budget on events, panel says

Marketing via events has a web-effect on a business's client base, whereas more common forms of advertising—billboard, print and radio—reach clients in a linear fashion. That was the takeaway from the "Smart Marketing: How to Capitalize on Events to Grow Your Business" panel discussion held in Baton Rouge today as part of the 2013 Smart Growth Summit. While it may be difficult to convince a financially prudent businessperson to sponsor an event instead of purchasing an ad, the panel agreed the ripple effect from such a sponsorship can extend far beyond the reach of an ad. Take MayerIT, for example. After sponsoring a lane at the opening night of the 2012 Bowling Congress Open Championships, MayerIT Director of Design & Marketing Robert Hebert kept track of every relationship he formed throughout the process, as well as at the event. From there, Hebert tracked all subsequent contacts and clients MayerIT made in connection to those original relationships. Within a year,...

How effective is it to advertise your business by hiring someone to wave a sign on the roadside?

We've all seen them. The costumed Statue of Liberty outside the tax preparation service. The leprechaun and her kettle in front of We Buy Gold. The sign-spinning wonders in front of Little Caesar's pizza shops. George Popov, who owns several Liberty Tax franchises in the region, says he combines the approach during the height of tax season with other forms of marketing, including flyers and Web advertising. He pays the promoters just above minimum wage—and a bonus if they stay through the end of the season. It's a long way from a billboard or a social media campaign, but it does attract attention. How effective is this approach to marketing? We asked four of the Capital Region's top branding consultants for their take.

WAFB replacing 9 p.m. evening newscast with 6:30 show

WAFB-TV will roll out a new newscast Monday on its sister station, WBXH, cable channel 16. The Six30—which will air, as its name implies, at 6:30 p.m.—will replace the 9 p.m. newscast that has aired on WBXH for the past several years. News director Robb Hays would not say the 9 p.m. newscast was performing poorly, but he does say station management decided to make the change because having a lead-in with the top-rated 6 p.m. newscast on WAFB will be a natural way to drive viewers to the 6:30 show. "We are hoping to have people do a direct switch from our 6 p.m. show to our 6:30 show," says Hays. "But they will be seeing very different content. It won't be a repeat of the same show." The Six30 will be anchored by Greg Meriwether and Steve Caparotta, who will develop different content for it geared toward a slightly different audience from the 6 p.m. broadcast on WAFB. Caparotta will also be doing new social media-related features, like what is trending now on...

Greg Milneck

"I became a filmmaker because, as kids, there was always a camera in our face."

Bernstein: Media needs to return to reporting 'best obtainable version of truth'

The American system of government isn't working, and the American people are becoming increasingly closed-minded, thanks to a media that reflects partisanship and preconceived prejudices rather than reality. Such is the sobering assessment of renowned journalist Carl Bernstein, who spoke today at the LSU Union as part of the ongoing celebration of the 100th anniversary of the LSU Manship School of Mass Communication. "Today, the picture of our society, as reflected in the media, is too often illusionary and delusionary," the famed Watergate journalist said. "I learned an approach to reporting that was very simple, and that was simply to pursue the best obtainable version of the truth." That approach to reporting is rare these days, Bernstein said, because we live in an age when not only do most reporters not look for the best obtainable version of the truth—neither do the readers. "That concept has been undermined and overwhelmed by cultural and ideological warfare," Bernstein...