Commentary: The Two-Year Itch

The scene at AutoMotoPlex
A place of celebration of the automobile – MN C&C. Photo by Randy Stern

I will admit to some form of victory amid a sea of frustration.

Frustration? Let us not get into that on here. Rather, the victory came in the form of a capsulated overview through the three auto shows I attended in the first quarter of this year that appeared in Lavender Magazine on Thursday. About 30,000 or so printed copies of landed in various locales in and beyond the Twin Cities with my words and a few images attached on page 52 of Issue 466.

My intention was to give the Lavender reader a little glimpse into what I do exactly and how it pertains to the subject matter they read in print or online. It is not to insult the LGBT readership that picks up a copy of Lavender, looking for home ideas for spring or read the latest reviews of theater and music. Rather, it is to add value to the magazine, attracting advertisers and interest from within and beyond our region.

Personally, it was intentional that I gave the readership an insight as to what I experienced. To that end, I am very proud of that piece. Perhaps I may have succeeded in bridging a year-and-a-half’s worth of automobile reviews and other meanderings within the subject matter to where the inspiration begins.

I needed that victory. It helped to ease of the impact of the crash at the end of the grind a couple of weeks ago.

Now, I began to wake up from the stupor. After all, Victory & Reseda just turned two years old after its rebranding and turn of focus towards automotive subject matter. Vehicle reviews are continuing to happen. New energy has been infused in trying out new things and using different lenses to evaluate and interpret these subjects. The subjects themselves are getting more interesting. Just wait until you see what will come through the garage in the next several weeks. Sorry, no hints…

The stories are coming back as well. At least the energy to cover them is returning to my soul. It began this weekend with an adventure to the opening of MN C&C (the local Cars & Coffee event – every first Saturday of each month in Chanhassen). The weather may not be suitable for a Cars & Coffee anywhere they are regularly held, but we Minnesotans refuse to be daunted to this lingering pattern of "weather." We are hearty folks, but we are indeed sick of any lingering of winter. True enthusiasts will shake their fist at the skies and local meteorologists to get their rides out on the road as the calendar intended to be.

It is good that the energy is coming back around here. Perhaps it was a needed break from the grind. It also gave me some time to absorb some things I wrote in a commentary last month during the Twin Cities Auto Show.

In that piece, I mentioned some frustrations I had even as I went through the first day of the local auto show. During the media event the following Monday, I was able to briefly discuss some of my concerns with the auto show staff. I did receive some insight, which even my own frustrations are shared across the board. The competition for value-added in-show experiences is tough when you have a few major metropolitan areas hosting similar events across the country. In some cases, the potential for doing a few more ride-and-drive experiences in Minneapolis may be limited due to space on the property and inside downtown. Therefore, a ride-and-drive experience that would be beneficial for Twin Cities consumers might be better activated in Atlanta, Denver or Dallas that same weekend.

The ride-and-drive situation is not the only frustration I had with the local auto show. On various levels, I hoped for the show to elevate itself through more OEM involvement, wider engagement via social media and awareness of these efforts to a wider audience. Perhaps I have been spoiled seeing how other auto shows turn up the wick on social media engagement and promotion. I only hope for more of the same in my own backyard, being how this community is known to be more social media savvy on a per capita basis than most metropolitan areas.

There were some personal and professional frustrations I also head to deal with. Instead of using this forum to go deeper into them, I contemplated what I had to do in order to reverse them. The primary question that I absorbed from this was how to increase the local footprint of this work and maintain a global presence?

There have been some thoughts on how to do exactly that. How many more inroads do I need to make to be able to bring this deep carmmunity closer to the interwebs?

One story that landed on my lap came from a regular local source – the general manager of a local dealership. It is actually an old story forming a new chapter. Where politics needed to be framed with the automobile, the effectiveness of the vehicle wraps that defeated Minnesota's "marriage amendment" is now given a second life for the next chapter of the issue. On the streets of the Twin Cities, there will now be wraps supporting the marriage equality bills being considered in the state legislature in Saint Paul. I will be looking further into this for my other outlets and rebroadcasted on here.

There are other stories forthcoming. Not sure when they will transpire, but I have a few a things in the fire based on things that have popped up in my radar. Currently, I am waiting whether these stories will be green-lighted or not.

Then, there’s the want of further utilizing the interactive portion of V&R. How should this be manifested? Can V&R be used to organize grassroots-style events, such as urban rallyes or consumer education groups or live roundtable discussions on social media utilization on local communities? Tweet/Meet-ups have been a device used at an auto show, but what about when a "hot" product is in for review? Could there be some arrangement for such opportunities for live engagement?

Or, should V&R simply "go along for the ride?"

The bottom line is that I really want to do more. It takes patience and planning to get there, but I know it would happen. I know I have plenty of competition locally and beyond, but it is all about distinguishing what V&R is all about and how the work in other outlets will come into play.

Then again, maybe I am just dreaming…something we often do on anniversaries, I suppose.

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