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I'm going to let you in on a little secret about the magazine business — editors love to receive research studies, especially when they come ready-made with a press release explaining why the survey results are significant. No matter what the particular topic, as long as you've got X number of people saying Y is the best thing since sliced pumpernickel, some editor is going to see the study and turn it into a story. And if the study happens to address a subject a reporter is already covering, so much the better.
Here at Logistics Today we specialize in conducting our own research as often as possible, such as our annual Salary Survey, but the logistics industry is rife with researchers pursuing a multitude of agendas. The trick is in divining exactly what that agenda is, and then determining if the information as presented is worth following up for an article. However, even as much as we love surveys, we can't possibly use all of them.
Here are some examples of actual research efforts we received that, for various reasons, we decided not to pursue for stories:
Wholesale distributors identify operational productivity as their most significant challenge.
While this study has some interesting observations, such as a report that only 15% of respondents expect to have RFID technology up and running by the end of 2004, the main reason this item ended up in our inactive files is its source: Yantra Corp., a provider of supply chain execution solutions. Even though Yantra is a fine company run by good people, we decided long ago not to develop stories based on vendor surveys. So that's why we said “no thanks” to covering this study.
Product lifecycle management (PLM) marketplace projected to top $8.65 billion in 2004.
Assessing these types of market studies is a lot trickier, since they're typically conducted by analyst firms who, for the most part, try to stay neutral. We've run similar items in the past, and will undoubtedly do so again. This study by Daratech, however, got the thumbs-down due to its subject matter. The jury is still out as to whether PLM is a subset of supply chain management or not. While the $8 billion being spent by manufacturers on PLM solutions is certainly significant, it's not usually a logistics professional making those buying decisions. So we filed this one away as not being immediately relevant.
Penn State study blasts maritime industry's cost estimate for safety rule. Now this one almost became an article. In fact, I even participated in a press conference revealing the findings of this study because, on the surface, it seemed like a good story. The problem was, the further I dug into the background of the study, it sounded less like a research project and more like a screed. While the topic of container chassis safety is extremely important to shippers — it's an ongoing concern that we've covered before and continue to monitor — there's no actual news in the Penn State report. It's basically a summary of why opponents to proposed intermodal equipment “roadability” laws are wrong and the position of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (who commissioned the report) is the correct one. The participation of several U.S. Congressmen and women in the press conference was the clincher. I've never met a politician yet who didn't love the sound of their own voice, and it became obvious that the “news conference” was in fact a public relations event, and not much more than that.
There you have it, then — a quick peek into how the editorial process generally works. Even with a monthly magazine, three e-newsletters and a regularly-updated online news site at our disposal, we still don't cover every single thing having to do with logistics — nor should we. Our job here is to provide you with news and information that will help you do your job better — and that means concentrating on the most important and relevant material.
We hope you agree with our choices as to what's news, and encourage you to let us know how you think we're doing. Drop us a line any time at [email protected]. As the old saying goes, we must be doing something — write.