Sunday, March 30, 2008

Top 12 Internet Marketing Advertising Destinations for Fairfax County Businesses

KME Internet Marketing (Northern Virginia Internet Marketing Specialists) just released their list of "Top 12 Internet Marketing Advertising Destinations for Fairfax County Businesses". This list focuses in on community directories and newspapers that Fairfax businesses should leverage to maximize their online advertising dollars. This list follows up on the last few lists focused on Loudoun County Internet Marketing destination sites.

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Friday, March 28, 2008

Shelly Scheyder Silent Auction - Huge Success, and Thanks

Here's a letter from the Shelly Scheyder Silent Auction Committee - this is a local benefit that this week pulled together the South Riding community to raise funds for medical expenses of one of its long-time Elementary school teachers...

"From the bottom of our hearts, thank you!

We are humbled and overwhelmed by the outpouring of support from neighbors, friends, co-workers and strangers, who came to the SilentAuction on Wed. March 26 for Shelly Scheyder. We are thankful that you joined us, bought the delicious treats donated by our wonderful friends and neighbors, waited patiently in line to pay for your winning bid, andhelped us clean up and put away tables and chairs.

Hundreds of people packed the cafeteria at Freedom High School. We were told that the parking lot was full. We raised over $36,000! While the dollar value is a tangible measure of a successful group effort, and for that we are truly grateful, what really gave us a lift was the emergence of a spirit of caring and unity. We are truly blessed to live in this community.

To our countless volunteers: YOU ROCK! Without your support, this fundraising event would have been difficult to pull together. You made it happen. We whole-heartedly enjoyed working with you.

To our donors: Your generous contribution has made this all possible. Your participation was critical to our success, and we'd like to thank you for being part of our community endeavor.

To our children volunteers and children donors: Thank you for your in-kind support. You inspire us all to make this place a better world.

To the Freedom High School Principal and Staff: Thanks a million for supporting us and allowing us to use the school cafeteria. You have encouraged and allowed us to show the young members of our community that gift-giving, volunteering, and donating is a joyful process.

Simply put: THANK YOU!

The Auction Committee

If you missed the event, and would like to donate, please send a check payable to Shelly Scheyder and mail to:

Shelly Scheyder
c/o Julie Ciardello
43520 Leyland Lane
South Riding, VA 20152

For Shelly updates, go to:

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Mommy Docs in DC

An interesting new, locally-generated site crossed our desk today via press release - seems to hit the right chords on many levels - a combo "Mom-Physician" site, run by two minivan-driving, kid-raising local mom-physicians. One of the more interesting points here is the statistic claiming "89% of Moms use the Internet at least 2x per day"...

"Potomac, Maryland, March 20, 2008 ­– Just in time for spring, relaunches with seasonal allergy solutions and overall wellness strategies for keeping kids healthy. As the first pediatric informational site by moms, for moms, doctors Jamie A. Freishtat, a board certified pediatrician and pediatric associate physician at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, DC, and Rachel L. Schreiber, a board certified allergist/immunologist, internist and Medical Director of Family HealthCare Allergy & Asthma Specialists in Germantown, Maryland, now provide parents with children’s health information and expert advice. offers interactive online features including podcasts on topics ranging from allergies and nutrition to sleep problems and separation anxiety. Parents can join upcoming Wednesday web chats on March 19 and April 2 from 8:30pm – 9:30pm Eastern Daylight Time, commiserate with the MommyDocs’ own child-rearing challenges on their blog, or submit a question to “Ask the MDs.”

“A parent’s job is 24/7, and whether you’re dealing with a toddler’s watery eyes or a preteen’s fever at midnight, provides good, basic information fast, without paging the doctor or waking up grandma,” says MommyDoc Schreiber. “Having two sons of my own and interacting with patients daily, I know that health concerns continue between doctor’s appointments, whether it’s wheezing and sneezing or figuring out how to untangle silly putty from hair! At, we provide practical information parents can put into practice right away.”

Freishtat and Schreiber conceived MommyDocs in the preschool carpool line, where they faced a daily barrage of parents’ questions about everything from eczema to ear infections. Recalling their “curbside consults” in medical school, they realized they could deliver their medical and mom expertise in a more streamlined way. Recognizing research studies that showed 88 percent of moms said they rely on the Web for parental guidance, advice, and ideas for raising their children [1] - and that 89 percent of moms are on the Internet at least twice a day [2] - they developed

The MommyDocs appear regularly on Washington, DC’s CBS affiliate WUSA-TV/Channel 9 morning newscasts; are “Baby Health” experts on The Bump (; and write a monthly column in Washington Parent Magazine. Besides sharing the goal of helping parents raise healthy kids, each MommyDoc has two sons, one chocolate lab, and a silver minivan."


Wednesday, March 19, 2008

First Blood in the Consolidation of Loudoun News Started Online

A small article in last week's Easterner caught our attention - the fact that the Loudoun Independent, a small local newspaper in Ashburn, is in bankruptcy and has been sold. This isn't a surprise at all, and, frankly, took a bit longer than expected.

The last couple of years saw a proliferation in local rags hitting our driveway and mailbox, all striving in parallel for more "hyperlocal" coverage, as well as expanded delivery across Loudoun. Some appeared to be generating the right mix of good, unique content and volume of sustaining, paid advertising. For example, Leesburg Today and the Easterner have sustained their thick advertising sections, while the Independent and Connection's share have seemed abnormally thin. Here's the consolidation chain of events (a brief history, from our perspective - no doubt leaving out many more detailed items we'll let you fill in) in local news that seems to have led to this first blood, starting with the Washington Post's online adventures -

1 - Early last year, the Post focuses its considerable clout and financial backing squarely on Loudoun County, significantly upgrading its online presence and printed content on the hyperlocal scene - opening This immediately drew off large and smaller advertisers, once solidly the domain of the established locals. This also slowed the rapid growth of other online-only, local news sources (like and some local blogs, subsequently wrapped into the Post's stable of blogs).

2 - The Independent, also a little over a year ago, launched its own slick new website to accompany its mailed papers (vs. driveway-delivered) - but the outcome was an utter misstep from the perspective of all reasonable online advertising and marketing standards - no user feedback or online subscription capabilities, all in "Flash" leading to slow performance and nonexistent search engine visibility, and little thought to inline advertising placement. Its traffic and online exposure slowed to a crawl.

3 - In apparent defense of its turf, the Loudoun Times embarked on a considerable overhaul of its own user-generated content, adding RSS feeds, user blogs and other features - resulting in a very much improved online presence...seemingly catching up to the more established Leesburg Today, and eclipsing all other local, online destination sources.

4 - The Easterner's online presence didn't change much over the period, except to include more automated, 3rd party advertising network feeds among a set of mismanaged ad spaces across the website, which (1) aren't necessary targeted or of added value to the local content, and (2) seem only to indicate a void in online advertising and marketing capabilities of the paper. This situation led to a window of opportunity to claim solid 2nd place in the online news turf (2nd to the Post, and thereby attracting many lower-cost, local advertisers) - the Times stepped up an made a solid grab at this from Leesburg Today (and in our opinion won with its capture of the local blogosphere stars, though they've not yet achieved the traffic or online participation statistics of Leesburg Today, with its extensive user commenting activity, polls and photo submissions).

5 - The Connection's online presence and content management/usability capabilities continues to be abysmal, though still easier to locate and use than the Loudoun Independent.

6 - From a Google Pagerank perspective (an indicator of online popularity and presence), the war for #2 is still awaiting a clear leader - as all the local rags, plus online-only destinations such as Dulles South Online and, hover between 4 and 5 in their page rank metrics. Only achieved a "6" at one point last year, though has dropped back a little since.

7 - Beginning with last year's local election activities, the Independent made a decent push to overhaul its online presence (having taken a run at this the previous year, with a partnership with the now defunct, and broaden its advertising base - with the launch of a set of online videos of candidates (the only news site to do this), some minimal efforts to introduce feedback and RSS subscription options, increase its online presence through a few SEO-driven changes, and a limited expansion of advertising space options...outside of this, complete managed overhaul and conversion of the site from fully Flash-based to a more user and search engine-friendly html/text-based format never materialized as expected.

Nor did the Independent fully manage and leverage a number of proprietary digital content additives - these "inserts" and extra content produced as standalone PDF files could have been leveraged and distributed much more widely through many more online and offline channels. Note also it partnered with the Purcellville Gazette to extend advertising reach - but didn't take advantage of this cross-county partnership online in any way to share advertising, news or user-generated content.

8 - Search in Google today for "Loudoun News" or "Loudoun County News" - you'll find the Times and Leesburg Today having fully re-established themselves in the face of the Post, with the Observer, WTOP, the Easterner, the Connection and even the Independent still hanging on the 1st few pages of search results (along with the online-only sources). This is most apparent searching for the term "Loudoun County Newspapers", plus "Loudoun News Online".

We think the message here is that the significant and coordinated online push into this local advertising and news market by the Post resulted first in a rapid consolidation and drawdown of medium-sized advertising first from existing online outlets (i.e. papers), and second from existing printed publications. The more established and Internet-savvy papers rebounded fairly well, due mainly to their local "connectedness" with local advertisers, businesses, readers and community organizations (which Loudounextra we think really only achieved through its "Living in Loco" blog and local sports reporters) - as well as their complete online focus on the County (vs. the Post, which, although it claims "hyperlocal" focus, still works in a lot of more regional and even national content and advertising).

Without taking its cues from the Post and the Times, nor simply modeling its basic provision of advertising content and online accessibility after the solidly established Leesburg Today, the Independent seems to have quickly tumbled as the first major casualty of the contracting news outlet market.

There's a whole lot more analysis and themes to discuss about this (we're not obviously paid journalism professionals, but we are online marketing and technology professionals), but it's a great lesson to local newspapers - adapt quickly and smartly, coordinate online and offline activities and advertising, use metrics to attract advertisers, embrace "Web 2.0" and your eager hyperlocal community, seek partnerships in advertising and content networks, manage your proprietary digital content and copyrights as the valuable and extensible assets they truly are, and deliver true usability and accessibility to both readers and search engines. Driven by LoudounExtra's lead, the Times appears to understand most of these points, and Leesburg Today is getting them (albeit slugglishly); but the others seem to be falling behind, with the Independent as the first casualty of probably more to come.

Fairfax is next on the Post's radar - therefore, other locals, heed these lessons (Chronicle, Times, Connection, Sun Gazette).


Sunday, March 16, 2008

Don't turn your backs on Dulles South students...

Quite a large public response is building to the current intentions of the BOS, given extreme County budget pressures, to significantly cut back and delay delivery of critical new educational facilities in Dulles South. The message is - don't let the future of our County, and our State, down for lack of bare minimum school facilities they deserve. Here's the latest message from Cheryl Bacak (Mercer Middle and Freedom High School PTA presidents) -

"Hi everyone!! I apologize if you received this more than once from either me or Sarah Lichter, but as you read you will understand the urgency. Decisions on the budget and the CIP will happen possibly as early as next week(which is spring break for us). So please act today!

Thank you for taking the time to write a letter to the supervisors or attending the next BOS meeting Wednesday, March 19 at 6:30 pm.

At this link, you will find a flyer with information about how critical a massive public response is to making sure the students of Dulles South are protected in regards to their education.

I PLEAD with each of you to circulate this information amongst our communities in Dulles South. Emails, flyers, calls to friends and neighbors, and your own personal time spent contacting the media and the Loudoun Board of Supervisors members will have an impact....time is of the essence.

Dulles South pulled together to get Freedom High School built. It was a hard won fight, and one that was only achieved because the community at large got involved.

We have very little time to make an impact on this vote. There is no tomorrow.

PLEASE DON'T IGNORE THIS MESSAGE. Take it one step further and pass it along. Talk to your friends and neighbors. Don't be a citizen who wonders...HOW DID THIS HAPPEN??....take a moment, and take action!!

We can have an impact on the BOS vote!!

Thank you once again!!

Cheryl Bacak"


Saturday, March 15, 2008

Dulles Loop Update - Rt. 50 Short and Long-Term Improvements Underway

Here's an update on improvements to the "Dulles Loop" (Rts. 50, 28 and 606 around the Dulles Airport), focusing specifically on Rt. 50 in the Dulles South region, per a recent Dulles South Business Alliance Meeting's presentation by the Dulles Loop Implementation Group's hired consultants, as part of their strategic Dulles Loop traffic study.

This study is conducted jointly by the Dulles Area Transportation Association (DATA) and the Washington Airports Task Force (WATF), in cooperation with the public and private partners that collectively form the Dulles Loop Implementation Group (DLIG). The project includes generating an implementation plan for immediate improvements to the Route 50 and Route 606 portions of the Loop, identifying and generally estimating the cost of missing elements, establishing conceptual sections for several long-term right-of-way options in a manner that is mindful of a need for continued growth and evolution of the right-of-way. Phase 2 of the project involves developing a conceptual Dulles Loop master plan that could be included in the region’s 2030 planning scenario, and help ensure VDOT's interim upgrades are consistent with longer-range planning.

VDOT's "interim" solution to the Rt. 50 traffic issues is to arrive at a "6-lane arterial" near-term improvement of the road from Poland to Rt. 28. This addresses the horrid inbound traffic (east) between South Riding and Rt. 28 most mornings, and the nightmare afternoon/evening backups west along the same stretch. The solution includes improved traffic signalling and turn lane solutions, better access management (to businesses off the road), plus additional "through" lanes. This Fall, VDOT intends to let an RFP for the design/build/implement project, which would be completed within just a couple of years.

In the longer term, according to DLIG strategic planning efforts, the intention is to eliminate all signals, have 6 lanes uninterrupted flow, standard access management; all within the same Rt. 50 space (i.e. with no futher intrusion into the parcel properties on either side of the roadway). There does exist a natural tension between the Rt. 50 frontage landowners and those conducting strategic planning, in determining the balance between customer accessibility, business visibility and through traffic. The DSBA's objective is to avoid the "faceless freeway corridor" now implemented along Rt. 28 and Rt. 7 in Loudoun, while adjusting access to depend less on major intersections and single-use driveways, and to highly leverage alternatives like collector roads and joint in/out exits. Add to this expectations from most residents in the area for uninterrupted, visually appealing access in and out of this Gateway to Loudoun County, and you've got a very delicate balance of negotiated interests to weave through, and orchestrate as part of the overall strategic Loop planning.


Friday, March 07, 2008

Possibly the Best Dulles South Spring Ever - a New Home Depot!

Just caught the opening day sign on the new Home Depot in South Riding - March 20th! It's about time....

Just in time for Spring, we're totally looking forward to grill sales, great plant selections, mulch aplenty, and the simple visceral joy of wandering up and down the aisles of a brand spanking new "do-it-yourself" mecca - 5 minutes from our house!

It's just too much to bear, these last few weeks of waiting...Spring is most definitely here.


Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Braddock Village Plan Rejected

The Board of Supervisors finally killed (rejected) the proposed Braddock Village Plan, a community of 500 houses southwest of Arcola. While the proffers would've resulted in badly-needed infrastructure, including youth sports fields, road improvements and school facilities, this last vestige of the hyper-accelerating residential growth in this area of the county was the last nail in the coffin of the old board, by the new board, in establishing its reputation and direction.

With an increasing and accelerating drumbeat underway by economic and business interests to drastically improve the number and calibre of businesses locating (or staying) in the County, the absolute pressing need to improve the traffic situation around the "Dulles Loop", the undercurrent of intention and need for a George Mason campus expansion in the area, and the race between INOVA and HCA to establish a significant foothold from a Hospital/Medical Center perspective in Dulles South, this next 4 years is a great opportunity for the BOS to make great headway in increasing the "Tier 1" intellectual and commercial tax base presence in the Dulles South area. Imagine a "Gateway to Loudoun" area with a regional Medical Center, University campus programs, large office complexes for regional employers, the new Gum Spring library, all with rapid access (at all times of day) to the Airport and a slew of brand-new retail and restaurant options.

It seems the engine of economic recovery for Loudoun may be starting to turn, down in the Dulles South bulls-eye.