To solve metro Detroit’s problems, let’s look beyond economics

Detroit Free Press

By John Gallagher

January 25, 2017

Listening to the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual State of the Region luncheon Wednesday, I got the feeling that the answers to Michigan’s major economic challenges lie outside the realm of, well, economics.

We already enjoy all the major underpinnings of a strong economy — rule of law, property rights, a sophisticated banking system, a world-class airport at Detroit Metro, great universities, and more. But we continue to lag behind in educational achievement, regional cooperation, race relations, and other areas that are mostly beyond the reach of our corporate and economic decision makers.

Yet it’s those very areas that will determine whether Michigan will soar to new heights of achievement or limp along as a Rust Belt survivor that ranks no better than average in economic growth and opportunity.

Education is one such lagging indicator for this region today. As Sandy Baruah, the Detroit Chamber’s president and CEO, noted Wednesday, about 38% of the Detroit region’s residents have earned an associate’s degree or higher. That’s about the national average, but it’s far below the attainment level in urban regions we would like to consider peers like Seattle and Minneapolis where the level hits 50% of the population.

“This is an area that we need to work on in this region,” Baruah told his audience at the luncheon at the Westin Book Cadillac. Noting that the jobs of today and tomorrow reside in a high-skilled arena, he added, “If we want to compete and live in a 21st-Century economy, we needs to have the skills.”

That need is all but universally acknowledged, noted Rip Rapson, president and CEO of the Kresge Foundation, who spoke at the luncheon. But Detroit’s schools remain as beleaguered as ever, Rapson said, and every debate on school reform seems to revolve around governance issues — charters versus public schools, union versus non-union — rather than how to help the kids in the classroom.

Or to cite another area, we need big new investments in roads, bridges and other infrastructure. But those decisions lie more in the realm of politics than economics. How many more times can corporate and economic leaders say we need to fix the roads or promote public transportation before political leaders do something meaningful?

And race relations, while improved over the past half-century, can still flare into disputes that stoke resentments and stymie needed action.

Too often our economic debates, rather than dealing with fundamentals, tend to focus on things that might improve life at the margins, like new tax incentives for downtown projects or minor tweaks to tax rates.

Michigan and the Detroit region made an impressive comeback from the depths of the Great Recession. And the chamber’s annual report Wednesday revealed that we excel in many areas from the nation-leading number of patents granted innovators in this region to our rapid growth in STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) jobs. That’s all to the good.

But until we resolve to no longer leave behind tens of thousands of schoolkids, and put aside regional jealousies and feuds, and face up to the ugly role that racism still plays today, our state and region risk never being more than average.

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Clayton & McKervey Unveils New Mandarin Web Site

Clayton & McKervey, an international accounting and business advisory firm servicing growth-driven middle-market companies, introduced a new Mandarin web site on January 13, 2017. Created by Ann Arbor-based Perich Advertising + Design, the site is designed for Chinese companies considering expansion to the United States.

“We know that Chinese companies looking to invest in the United States will research professional service advisors. Our new web site, presented in Mandarin, makes the search process easier,” said Tim Hilligoss, Shareholder and China Practice Leader. “This new communication tool helps convey Clayton & McKervey’s commitment to the Chinese market; our years of hands-on experience, supportive international culture, and team of Mandarin-speaking accountants,” he said.

Clayton & McKervey’s Mandarin site ( is an extension of the firm’s English site introduced in May 2016. The firm also launched a German site in November 2016. These responsive sites were designed to connect with businesses seeking CPA firms with Clayton & McKervey’s depth of expertise with international markets and closely-held businesses.

Detroit Regional Chamber State of the Region Report Indicates Economic Strides


By Stephanie Shenouda

January 25, 2017

The Detroit Regional Chamber today released its third annual State of the Region Report, with several economic indicators reflecting progress and encouraging confidence regarding Southeastern Michigan’s future.

“Our region has made significant, undeniable strides that can and should encourage confidence about Southeast Michigan’s economic future,” says Rick Hampson, president of Citizens Bank, who underwrote the SOTR report. “Like any other major metropolitan area, we continue to face challenges. But there are many, many signs indicating that we are headed in a good direction and it is important that we keep that momentum going.”

Hampson also called Detroit a “center of innovation,” citing Detroit Metropolitan Airport, patents related to the automotive industry, and a transition to a knowledge-based and technology-based economy as reasons for economic growth across the 11-county region.

According to data released in the SOTR, the Detroit region has recorded per capita growth of 13.6 percent since 2010, outpacing the national growth rate by 1.4 percentage points. The region also experienced an 11.3 percent increase in median household income, rising from $48,198 in 2010 to $53,628 in 2015, ranking seventh against peer regions. The region matched the national growth rate during the same timeframe.

The regional Detroit unemployment rate (including data from Ann Arbor, Detroit, Flint, and Monroe, peaked in July 2009 at 7 percent and has continued to decline to .8 percent, moving closer to the national rate.

The report indicates median home values are also beginning to return to pre-2009 levels, with property values in Detroit increasing by 21.4 percent between 2010 and 2015, leading peer regions in growth and outpacing the national average by 13.3 percentage points. Pittsburgh was the next closest peer region, with 17.2 percent median home value growth. The 2015 median home value in the region was $151,000 compared to $158,000 in 2009.

The Detroit area also gained more than 225,000 private sector jobs since 2010, surpassing Boston, Minneapolis, and Seattle in the number of jobs created. The region has outpaced the national growth rate in this category by 3.6 percentage points. The life science, healthcare, and information technology fields continued to draw the most capital deployment in Michigan in 2015.

Detroit also continues to lead its peers in growth regarding science, technology, engineering, and math-related jobs, with those occupations increasing more than 18 percent since 2010, and nearly 44,000 STEM jobs added into the local economy in the past five years. As of 2015, nearly 300,000 workers in the Detroit region are employed in the STEM field.

Detroit also ranked 30th in the new Kauffman Index, which measures the rate of new entrepreneurs and startup density. The region ranked sixth among its peers regarding startup density, which was 74.8 points in 2016. The University of Michigan specifically ranked as the seventh most innovative university in Reuters’ Top 100 Innovative Universities for the past year.

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5 Keys to Building a Solid Digital Marketing Strategy

By Robert Courtney Collins
Robert Courtney & Associates – A Boutique Branding Agency

This post is part of the Digital Marketing Boot Camp series, a new set of blog posts across different mediums designed to provide intel to people and companies looking to improve their digital marketing strategy.

Having a digital marketing strategy is paramount to survival in today’s business climate. While many people use social media platforms daily, very few understand how to leverage these platforms and reach maximum potential. Sometimes a strategy may appear to be effective, but without exercising certain building blocks you’ll likely find your strategy breaking down. Here are 5 principles every digital strategist must use to build a solid foundation and launch a successful marketing campaign.

1. Identify Key Channels

Everybody should have a primary platform and a secondary platform that’s properly maintained every day. Depending on your industry it’s very important to pick the platform that matches your audience best. If you’re in an industry that produces great visuals you will want to use Instagram. If you’re attempting to reach a younger audience, you will want to use Snapchat. Facebook should be everyone’s primary or secondary platform because of its reach and amount of active users.

2. Create Quality Content

Never shortchange your prospective audience with content that isn’t the best quality you can produce. Whether it’s photos or videos the quality of your content speaks to who you are as a brand. Content should also be informative or creative to make your brand stand above your competition.

MORE: Hear more about building up your digital marketing strategy at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp, Feb. 15.

3. Don’t Sell, Be Authentic

Traditional business practices have conditioned us to do the hard sell and pitch our product. But, with good planning, research and a service or product you believe in you can be authentic and let the selling happen naturally. Communicate your core message properly, passionately and precisely and nobody will be wondering what you’re selling or if you’re selling — they’ll be thinking about buying.

4. Establish Brand Consistency

Brand consistency is about making sure your name, logo, tag line and hashtags stay uniform across all digital platforms. Because the digital landscape is filled with different mediums, platforms, and networks bombarding millions of people every day the most effective companies know there’s an amazing power to connect consumers to a brand when marketing campaigns are easily identifiable and connectivity strategies are consistent. A digital marketing strategist would do well to examine all social platforms connected to a business to make sure brand consistency is in tack.

5. Be an Expert in Your Field

Being an expert means you not only have a deep knowledge of your own business, consumer needs and industry trends but that you are constantly analyzing your competition. When building your own marketing plan it’s essential to know what your competition is doing so you can decide exactly where to channel your digital marketing resources. The best digital strategies are often directly connected to the most well researched, and educated ideas.

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Walsh College Invites Area Employers to ‘Internship Connection’ on Feb. 8

Walsh College will host over 30 area employers seeking candidates for student internships at its 2017 Internship Connection, scheduled for 4 to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 8, at the College’s Troy Campus, 3838 Livernois Road.

The event will give students the opportunity to network face to face with employers offering internships in professional careers, including accounting, finance, marketing, human resources, information technology, cybersecurity, sales, and general business.

Employers wishing to participate should contact or call 248-823-1237.

“During the Internship Connection, students and employers can connect with each other in order to discuss internships and to explore employment opportunities,” said Brenda Paine, director of Career Services, Walsh College. “Internships can provide insight into one’s career field and also provides a way for students to evaluate companies and positions related to their career goals.”

Students planning to attend the event should dress professionally, bring résumés, and research the attending companies that interest them in advance of the event.

For a list of attending companies and more information on this event, visit

Auto industry jobs up 31 percent since 2010, says report on Metro Detroit economy


By Dana Afana

January 25, 2017

In a report released Wednesday on the state of Metro Detroit’s economy, employment figures show that jobs in the automotive industry have dramatically increased over the last seven years.

Since 2010, employment in the automotive sector grew by 31 percent, or 27,000 jobs, according to the Detroit Regional Chamber’s State of the Region report.

Employment in Southeast Michigan motor vehicle manufacturing rose from 87,655 jobs in 2010 to 117,645 in 2014, before dropping slightly to 114,591 in 2016, according to the report.

Mechanical and industrial engineers saw the largest growth by nearly 18,000 jobs, the SOR report says, and that more of these positions are created or filled in Michigan than any other state.

The report also shows that across Metro Detroit, the average salary for automotive jobs is $81,000.

Other statistics presented in the Chamber’s report show that income per capita in the region grew 13.6 percent since 2010. That number grew 4.2 percent from 2015 to 2016.

And median household income rose from $48,198 in 2010 to $53,628 in 2015.

Unemployment rates listed in the report, which included statistics from Ann Arbor, Flint and Monroe, saw a decline since 2009.

In 2016, Ann Arbor had the lowest unemployment rate in the region, at 4.1 percent, while Detroit and Flint were at six percent.

While Detroit serves as the epicenter of the automotive industry, an array of businesses in the manufacturing, healthcare and government fields drive the economy, according to the report.

Eleven Fortune 500 companies with Michigan headquarters are located within Metro Detroit, with the top two being General Motors Co. and Ford, which together reported more than $300 billion in revenue in 2015.

The other nine include: Penske Automotive Group, Lear, DTE Energy, Ally Financial, Autoliv, BorgWarner, Masco, Kelly Services and Visteon.

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Detroit chamber says regional economy is catching up

Detroit Free Press

By Matthew Dolan 

January 25, 2017

Moving on up, but not yet in ahead of the pack.

Those are the latest conclusions to be released today from the Detroit Regional Chamber about the state of the regional economy compared with its similarly sized competitors.

“As the data in this report suggest, the needle is indeed moving in the right direction,” Detroit Regional Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah, said of his business association’s third annual economic overview of the 11-county region.

The Detroit region as defined by the chamber is made up of 5.4 million living in and around the city in more than 300 municipalities, including some of the nation’s wealthiest and poorest communities. It is also home to more than 300,000 businesses, including 11 Fortune 500 companies.

In recent years, the region has attracted a new buzz thanks in part to a resurgent auto industry and a once-bankrupt city increasingly seen by locals and outsiders as a more attractive place to live and work.

First the good news.

The chamber’s most recent assessment found that in 2015, Detroit moved up five spots to number 30 in the Kauffman Innovation Index, which measures on the numbers of and opportunities for entrepreneurs. The region also topped its peers for the rate of growth of home values and new patents awarded by the government.

The state — and the Detroit area in particular — has also attracted a substantial number of new businesses and interest from venture capital who fund entrepreneurs, according to the report.

“The headline is that the region has made good progress since the Great Recession,” Baruah said in an interview ahead of his lunchtime presentation today on the report at the Westin Book Cadillac hotel in downtown Detroit.

Following Baruah, General Motors’ chief economist Mustafa Mohatarem is expected to speak about broad economic trends, followed by a discussion about the local economy with Troy-based Kresge Foundation President Rip Rapson, state Budget Director John Roberts and University of Michigan Business Professor Marina Whitman.

Among the topics may be the Detroit region’s poor performance compared similar regions in education attainment, including the number of workers with a higher education degree.

The region also continues to struggles with achieving a net increase in the number of residents.

Population growth in the region is essentially flat between 2010 and 2015. Last year, there were slightly more moves out of Michigan than into the state, according to United Van Lines’ Annual National Movers Study.

But that’s considered a win for the region because of the region’s losses in recent years. The city of Detroit, for example, lost 25% of its population between 2000 and 2010, according to the federal Census, a trend that could reverse for the first time in decades starting this year.

“We’ve reached the bottom of the U curve,” Buruah said. He added that “we have to attract residents not only from other states but from other countries. That’s really the only way we’re going to grow our population.”

Personal income continues to grow, rising 13% between 2010 and 2015, beating the national average of 12.2% over the same period of time.

But the Detroit region also lags several other metropolitan areas on the same measure, including Chicago, Pittsburgh and Seattle.

The regional Detroit unemployment rate peaked in July 2009 and has continued to decline, moving closer to the national rate. Anchored by the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor continues to record the lowest unemployment rate of 4.1% while Detroit and Flint reported unemployment rates at 6%.

Home values are rising but still fall below levels in 2009.

Between 2010 and 2015, the Detroit area median home values increased by 21.4%, leading peer regions in growth and outpacing the national average. Pittsburgh was the next closest peer region with 17.2% median home value growth.

The actual value of homes on average still haven’t reached 2009 levels, with the median value at $151,000 compared to $158,000 eight years ago.

An integrated regional transportation system in metro Detroit continues to be lacking. While the proposed millage for regional transit was narrowly defeated in the November election, the need for coordinated regional transit remains, according to the chamber.

“We’re kind of regrouping right now,” Baruah said. “We’re not giving up.”

Among the top 50 metropolitan areas by population, the Detroit area has the 19th highest growth rate in real GDP from 2010 to 2015, at 12.2%. Detroit now ranks fifth among similar regions in GDP growth since 2010, outranked by Dallas, Seattle, Minneapolis and Pittsburgh.

The Detroit region gained more than 225,000 private sector jobs since 2010, surpassing Boston, Minneapolis and Seattle in the number of jobs gained.

The region has outpaced the national growth rate by 3.6 percentage points. But the region still lagged Dallas, Atlanta and Seattle.

For the region’s economy to become among the best performing in the nation, the Detroit must not only make substantial gains, but at levels far above those achieved by most cities, according to Baruah.

“We need to make out -sized gains for an out-sized period of time,” he said.

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Chamber: Personal income in SE Michigan growing, education lags

Crain’s Detroit Business

By Chad Livengood

January 25, 2017

Personal income growth for workers in Southeast Michigan outpaced most peer regions in recent years, but metro Detroit and surrounding counties continue to lag behind in educational achievement.

That’s the takeaway from the Detroit Regional Chamber’s State of the Region Report released Wednesday at a chamber luncheon at the Westin Book Cadillac Detroit hotel.

The annual report details the progress the region has made in a multitude of areas:

  • The unemployment rate is 5.1 percent, down from 16.7 percent in July 2009 at the height of the recession.
  • The 225,000 new jobs added to metro Detroit’s labor force since 2010 surpassed Boston, Minneapolis and Seattle in total new jobs.
  • Per capita income has grown 13.6 percent in the Detroit area between 2010 and 2015. Median household income rose 11.3 percent during that time period, from $48,198 per family to $53,628.
  • Patent origination in the Detroit market grew by 49 percent between 2010 and 2015, beating the national average of 31 percent. The 3,300 utility patents for Metro Detroit in 2015 was the most ever recorded in a single year for the region, according to the report.
  • Median home values in the Detroit region have increased 21.4 percent, outperforming all peer regions, including Chicago, where home values are down 5 percent.

“Home values going up is a positive for loans and for growing that business,” said Rick Hampson, state president of Citizens Bank, which is a sponsor of the Detroit chamber’s State of the Region luncheon.

Home values, however, have not returned to 2009 levels. The 2015 average median home value in metropolitan Detroit was $151,000, while the median value was $158,000 in 2009, according to U.S. Census Bureau data cited in the Detroit Regional Chamber’s report.

“The majority of the metrics point to business growth,” Hampson said in an interview.

Despite the economic progress metro Detroit has made compared with rival cities, the region trails far behind in educational attainment.

In 2015, 38.4 percent of adults over age 25 in Southeast Michigan had an associate’s degree or higher, just below the national average of 38.8 percent.

The Detroit region’s degree attainment trails far behind Minneapolis, where more than 50 percent of the adults have education beyond high school.

“While some progress is being made, we’re not making the dramatic progress that we need to make in order to ensure our position in the 21st century,” Detroit Regional Chamber President and CEO Sandy Baruah said in an interview.

The Detroit chamber has a goal of 41 percent of adults over age 25 with an associate’s degree or higher, which would put Southeast Michigan on par with the St. Louis region.

Baruah said businesses need to remain focused on affecting public policies that boost high school graduation rates and strengthen a pipeline of students into higher education.

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Detroit Regional Chamber focuses on improving K-12 education

Crain’s Detroit Business

By Chad Livengood

January 25, 2017

A rosy Detroit Regional Chamber report on the region’s economic progress was contrasted Wednesday by realities that metro Detroit still struggles with underperforming public schools and an under-educated workforce.

A panel of Detroit-area business, civic and government leaders spent as much time Wednesday discussing what was not detailed in the Detroit chamber’s State of the Region report as what was highlighted in the annual economic benchmarking document.

The discussion at a chamber luncheon at the Westin Book Cadillac Detroit hotel centered around the state of K-12 education in Detroit, which is under renewed scrutiny. The state’s School Reform Office recently targeted 25 public schools in Detroit for possible closure in June for persistently low student test scores.

“Every conversation I’ve been in about the future of Detroit, about the future of the region, it always comes back to (education),” said Rip Rapson, president and CEO of The Kresge Foundation.

Across several economic metrics, the Detroit region continues to see growth in personal income, housing values, new patents and jobs created since 2010, according to the chamber’s State of the Region report.

But Southeast Michigan lags behind similar size metropolitan areas across the country in educational attainment.

In 2015, 38.4 percent of adults over age 25 in Southeast Michigan had an associate’s degree or higher, just below the national average of 38.8 percent.

The Detroit region’s degree attainment trails far behind Minneapolis, where more than 50 percent of the adults have education beyond high school.

“We’re lagging behind our peers,” said Sandy Baruah, president and CEO of the Detroit Regional Chamber. “We need to work on our K-12 system.”

The Detroit Regional Chamber’s report contained just one K-12 education benchmark detailing the region’s troubles: Just 44 percent of third-graders in Southeast Michigan were reading at their grade-level in the 2015-16 school year.

The chamber’s report set a goal of boosting third grade reading proficiency to 58 percent of 8- and 9-year-olds in the 11-county Southeast Michigan region.

Baruah said businesses need to remain focused on affecting public policies that boost high school graduation rates and strengthen a pipeline of students into higher education and the workforce.

Mustafa Mohatarem, chief economist for General Motors Co., said the business community needs to be more engaged in public education to expose students different career paths.

“We’re not teaching our kids what kind of opportunities they could have,” Mohatarem said.

Detroit’s fractured public education landscape

After years of wrangling in Lansing over fixing persistently failing schools, the state’s School Reform Office moved forward Jan. 20 with plans to close 38 persistently failing schools across the state.

The majority of the schools are in metro Detroit: 25 schools in Detroit; two schools in Pontiac; a middle school in Eastpointe; and one elementary school in River Rouge.

In Detroit, 16 of the schools facing possible closure are operated by the Detroit Public Schools Community District, eight are operated by the Education Achievement Authority and one is a charter school.

The schools could avoid closure if local officials agree to more intense levels of state intervention, such as replacing half of the teaching staff or turning over operation of the school to a private charter school operator, which also could remove the staff.

But those options often get entangled in struggles among adults over “power and control,” Rapson said.

“We’ve gotta figure out some way to put the kids first and I frankly don’t know how to do that,” he said.

Rapson said the stability of Detroit’s commercial corridors and neighborhoods hinges on improving the city’s fractured public education landscape.

“We’ve got to take a moonshot here because we just can’t continue the kind of gradual, incremental stuff,” Rapson said.

John Roberts, Gov. Rick Snyder’s outgoing state budget director, suggested the state will consider how school closures could affect progress in a city where trash is being regularly collected and streetlights are working for the first time in years.

“If you start closing schools, what does that do for the neighborhoods in the city? Where do the kids go?” Roberts asked.

While fixing public schools in Detroit seems like an unachievable goal, Roberts noted past skepticism that trash collection could be improved, 65,000 broken street lights replaced and billions of city legacy costs shed in bankruptcy — all milestones that been achieved in recent years.

“Don’t over complicate the change,” Roberts said. “We’re missing an opportunity here.”

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Radio Steps Up in the Digital Age

By Kevin Ketels 
Kyrris Marketing

This post is part of the Digital Marketing Boot Camp series, a new set of blog posts across different mediums designed to provide intel to people and companies looking to improve their digital marketing strategy.

domMedia fragmentation and digital distribution have dramatically changed the way consumers listen to music and talk radio.  In my interview with radio executive Dom Theodore, he addresses why these changes took place and how broadcasters are leveraging digital technology to help compete.

How has the radio media landscape evolved since you and I were kids in the 1970’s?

Radio is a much more sophisticated business than it was in the 70’s. Back then, FM was just finding its footing, and most of the revenue was made on the AM dial. As the audience migrated to FM, and the FCC changed signal-spacing requirements, more FM stations popped up creating more of a splintered audience. Then, in the mid-1990’s, the FCC changed ownership rules and essentially lifted the cap on the number of stations that can be owned by one company in the same market. This brought in tons of new Wall street investors to radio, and as traditional broadcasters sold stations to mega-companies, these new owners focused on cost efficiency and finding ways to operate with fewer people and more syndicated programming. Then came the ‘digital disruption’ that made so many new audio entertainment technologies available to consumers, and you now have a much more splintered audience than ever before.

How does radio compete in an era of consumer media fragmentation?

It starts with recognizing that radio is no longer just radio – we are in the ‘audio entertainment’ business. There are more content delivery systems than ever before, but the secret to effectively competing in this new world is to focus on the actual ‘delivery’ – the content – and take an agnostic approach to ‘delivery system.’ This means that radio personalities need to be multi-platform, and available in both real-time during their live shows, and on-demand anytime through other platforms. They also need a social media presence and content that extends far beyond their radio show. But it all starts with a great talent.

MORE: Hear more about podcasting and radio at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp, Feb. 15.

Can you give us some examples of digital tools that are now being used in the industry to better connect talent, programming and/or advertisers with your audience? 

Terrestrial radio stations absolutely must have a presence across digital platforms – and most savvy personalities are using social media – particularly Twitter, Facebook, and Snapchat – to better engage with audiences. Also, the audience expects content to be available on-demand, so you’ll find podcasts from your favorite radio personalities on iTunes, Soundcloud, etc. Radio stations also typically employ online research methods to determine what songs to play – often soliciting their listener’s opinions online and using that data to determine programming decisions. And of course, we use digital advertising campaigns to drive audience back to the radio station for contesting, special programming, etc.

And there are plenty of radio station audio streams available online, in addition to internet-only channels… like my own ‘The Blaze Radio network’ – which is Glenn Beck’s single biggest affiliate – producing a bigger audience than any one of our terrestrial radio affiliates. As the ‘connected car’ becomes a reality, consumers will soon have access to every streaming radio station in their vehicle. This will be a game-changer, and will allow real-time audience analysis and audience reaction measurement… what is now the broadcast business will really become a narrowcast business with very individualized media experiences.

Kevin Ketels is President of Kyrris Marketing, a Detroit marketing and communications agency, as well as an Adjunct Professor of Marketing in the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University. 

Read more from Kevin Ketels:

Don’t be a Social Media Bore

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