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May 23, 2017

Siege Museum

Exchange Building
May, 2017

 Siege Museum

What happened at the Siege Museum?

Siege Museum

Siege Museum photo by John Rooney

One of the most exciting events of this project's (working with the Robert Bobb Group) duration was an event that happened at the Siege Museum aka Exchange Building in Petersburg. The previous City Council closed the City Museums in the fall of 2016.  A group of citizens gathered to form a board to manage the museums, which at that time included only Historic Blandford Church and Centre Hill Museum.  Later in a Memorandum of Understanding generated by the Petersburg Preservation Task Force (PPTF), the opportunity to manage the Siege Museum became possible.  Upon inspection of the contents of the museum, one of the PPTF members noticed the storage units for 2-3 dozen cannon balls.  Upon closer inspection, it appeared some of these were live and had been stored in the museum for over 40 years. These cannon balls dated from the Civil War.

The PPTF notified the Interim City Manager Tom Tyrrell who immediately contacted the Fire Chief who brought in the Virginia State Police to scan the ordinances with an X-ray device that determines if they are actually live.  Turned out there were four.  In a municipality such as Petersburg where funds are severely limited, the only option was to engage the ordinances at the City dump.  The procedure requires burying them in a landfill with an explosive device that detonates them simultaneously.

The street where the Museum faces was closed temporarily while the ordinances were inspected, removed and transported to the City dump.  The locals were lit up with questions.  "Are bombs in the Siege" was the most asked.  Following is a list of media reports that include local, statewide and national attention:











A history and photos of the Siege Museum can be found at













May 18, 2017

Petersburg Phase 1

May, 2017

 Petersburg Phase 1

In November 2016, The Robert Bobb Group (RBG) retained two people, one of which is myself, the other is Leslie Strickler of Etre Communications, to manage the Public Information Office for the City of Petersburg.  We job shared as both of us are consultants in the Marketing environment.  I title this project Petersburg Phase 1 because our contract covered November 15, 2016 through the end of March 2017 and mirrors the RBG contract, although theirs was bit longer starting in late October 2016.

Petersburg Phase 1

Nelsie Birch, Tom Tyrrell, Jack Berry, Terry Burgess, Robert Bobb and Dileep Rajan

The first part of the project was as all Discovery.  My being hired was due to my experience with working with numerous groups in Petersburg for the past five years; first with the non-profit, Think Then Choose Wisely, which is discussed in a separate blog entry, and second with the Historic Petersburg Foundation.  Through HPF, Lythos Studios became familiar with many people in the Old Towne Petersburg area.

During this Discovery Phase of the project, we had to become familiar with a new City Manager, Finance Director, Deputy City Manager, nearly 15 department directors, numerous City employees, City Council members, firemen, policeman, and so on.  Our first assignment was to create a process for releasing information to the media.  The position had been vacant prior to RBG's arrival.

The team consisted of Robert Bobb, Tom Tyrrell, Nelsie Birch, Dileep Rajan, Leslie Strickler and myself at the very beginning.  Jack Berry, former CEO of Venture Richmond, joined the team in January as the Deputy City Manager.

The number of problems the City was experiencing are too many to list for this endeavor. However, they included a fiscal crisis that could not be corrected with bankruptcy because the Commonwealth does not allow its Cities to bankrupt themselves.

As RBG began to examine financial records from the various City departments and Constitutional Offices such as Treasurer and Commissioner of Revenue, they realized that not only was the data lacking in transparency, it was simply wrong. Accounts that included revenues and expenses from Federal, State and Local levels were intertwined with indistinguishable account codes; thus making debits and credits nearly impossible to report accurately in a general ledger.  Numerous accountants and accounting firms simply walked out the door when confronted with this Herculean task of trying to determine what entries were real or not real.  The RBG group reports to City Council every other Tuesday night beginning at 6:30 pm.  There are many other closed door sessions, work sessions, a Saturday morning visioning session and most last for hours.  It is typical for a Tuesday night Council meeting to last past 11 pm and legally has to stop at midnight.

The City Council is made up from the following Wards and members:

1 Treska Wilson-Smith

2 Darrin Hill

3  Samuel Parham

4  Charles H. Cuthbert

5 W. Howard Myers

6 Annette Smith-Lee

7 John A. Hart Sr.

Petersburg Phase 1

Hart, Cuthbert, Parham, Wilson-Smith, Myers, Smith-Lee, Hill

During Petersburg Phase 1, we released information as the new Interim City Manager advised and as the team began to discover the complexities of the City of Petersburg government and culture.

At the end of March 2017, we found our contract was to be extended for another three months until June 30, 2017.  From inception, we have released hundreds of press materials, appeared on CBS6, NBC12, ABC8, NPR WCVE/88.9, and have been quoted in a variety of digital and printed publications.    The most interesting and exciting (from my perspective) event occurred at the Siege Museum which will be reported in a subsequent blog entry.  Some of the individual events are so interesting, they merit their own blog posts.


The City of Petersburg website is www.petersburg-va.org








attack ads work

December 9, 2016

Attack Ads Work

attack ads work

Michelle Mosby runs for Mayor of the City of Richmond

In early September, 2016, Lythos Studios was hired to work on the Mosby4Mayor campaign where Michelle Mosby was running for Mayor of the City of Richmond.  Mosby had been serving on City Council and was president of the current council at that time.  At our time of hire, Mosby's political Facebook page had just under 1,000 "likes".  The campaign had purchased little to no advertising but found itself in the spotlight when radio ads on local Richmond stations were purchased attacking Joe Morrissey, another contender for the precious position of Mayor of the City of Richmond.  Morrissey has had a nefarious background in Virginia politics and ultimately served jail time for his unethical and unlawful behavior.

Mosby wrote and recorded a one minute plea to voters in the Richmond Community stating, "I wouldn't trust my daughter with Joe Morrissey and neither should you."  Morrissey married a 17 year girl who was pregnant with his child and took an Alford Plea to reduce his sentence.

Beside the goal of winning the race, goals were set for increasing web traffic and Facebook likes.  Our minimum expectation was a 100% increase in both media.  The day after the radio ads aired an article appeared as the header on the front page of the Richmond Times Dispatch ran this article about attack ads work:


Within that time and the day of the election, the number of Facebook likes increased by almost 4,000.  Three videos were made, two that were one minute in length, and one that was nearly two minutes.  The shorter videos were distributed digitally on Comcast and through digital means. Radio ads aired daily on local Radio One stations.  The longer of the three videos was distributed on Facebook in select regions where Mosby needed increased name recognition.

The videos which discussed the same topic as the radio ads were viewed with huge success.  The two one minute commercials had the following results:

Video One  delivered 99,071 impressions with 30,259 views and a 3.6% click through rate to the website.

Video Two delivered 33, 678 (airing days before the election) 33,678 impressions with 8,047 views and a 3.4% click through rate to the website.

How did this correlate into votes and how did the attack ads work?

According to VPAP, the organization that reports gifts and expenditures for political races, Levar Stoney, who won the race spent $21.46 per vote.

Jack Berry spent $21.31 per vote.

Joe Morrissey spent $4.80 per vote.

Michelle Mosby spent $6.02 per vote.

Both Stoney and Berry spent over $700,000.



Although Mosby didn't win the election, her impact was substantial.  Her Facebook presence was increased over 500%; her web traffic increased over 500% and she made the front page of the largest local newspaper and discussed on multiple local talk radio stations.



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