Albert Barbusci Really Doesn’t Get the Interwebs

To be a marketer in 2017 in North America is to be social media savvy: to think about things like interactive media, influencer content, mobile video, chatbots and augmented reality, to name just a few of the 2017 marketing trends I cribbed from this Forbes article.

So when a guy rides into town and announces he’s a great marketer ready to take on the challenge of selling your port to the world, you tend to assume that he is, in fact, social media savvy.

And then you see his Pinterest page:


Yes, that is the Pinterest page of Albert Barbusci, one half of Sydney Harbour Investment Partners (SHIP), the other being author and sometime Gabarus resident Barry Sheehy. (Don’t get me started on Sheehy’s web presence — if villains from Dickens novels had websites, they’d look like this.)

Barbusci’s Pinterest page is very much in keeping with his overall web presence, which consists chiefly of nub ends of web sites floating around the internet like the detritus of an ocean plane crash. There is also a website for “Novaporte,” the terrible name he insists on giving our port, so when I ran across the Pinterest page (while looking for ideas for an all-pumpkin mini-golf course I’m working on), it inspired me to go back and see if Barbusci and Sheehy had ever fixed the spelling errors I had noted on that site a year ago. Happily for me, they had not — these screenshots were captured on 11 September 2017:


Click to enlarge.

In Albert Barbusci’s world, Novaporte is still “cheeper” than its better established (and presumably more literate) rivals.

And for the record, the site still lists as “media contact” Anne-Hélène Couturier of National Communications. I sent her an email that bounced in April 2017, after which I checked out her LinkedIn page and discovered she’d left National in 2016.


This just in

In addition to typos and outdated media contacts, the Novaporte website also includes a selection of newspaper articles full of embarrassing predictions from Port of Sydney CEO Marlene Usher, including a Chronicle Herald article from February 2016 headlined,”Sydney port boss expects hub announcement in 2016,” which begins:

Many pieces of the puzzle are yet to fall into place, but the chief executive officer of the Port of Sydney believes announcements will be made this year about construction of a major, ultra-modern container terminal.

“I am not guaranteeing anything, but (based on) my experience I am more than optimistic,” Marlene Usher said Thursday.

In Usher’s defense, that was probably a perfectly reasonable prediction to have made, based on her experience in the construction of major, ultra-modern container terminals.

Speaking to the American Journal of Transportation two months later, Usher once again drew on that experience to predict what would happen once representatives of China Communications Construction Company (CCCC) completed their port feasibility study:

“Hopefully, the study will be completed by July and we will be able to fast-track construction for opening for business in 2019,” she said, adding that the process has been facilitated by regulatory approvals and constructive dialogue with local aboriginal communities.

What happened instead of construction, of course, was that responsibility for the project was removed from the Port of Sydney Development Corporation and given to…we’re not entirely sure whom, but leading candidates include Barbusci, Sheehy, CBRM Mayor Cecil Clarke, Breton Law’s Jim Gogan and — my favorite possibility — former CBRM CAO Michael Merritt, even though he now works for the town of Olds, Alberta.


Think I’ll go out to Alberta…

And just in case you’ve been missing Merritt, you can hear him on 96.5 CKFM — All Hit Country! explaining how nice it is to be “back in Alberta” and you can see him here, either presenting a white rose to Olds Mayor Judy Dahl (who describes Merritt to Rock 104.5 radio as “very joval”) or receiving one from her:

Olds, Alberta Mayor Judy Dahl and former CBRM CAO now Olds CAO Michael Merritt.

Olds, Alberta Mayor Judy Dahl and former CBRM CAO now Olds CAO Michael Merritt.

See how much fun the interwebs are? I really don’t understand why Barbusci can’t be bothered to master them.


Cheep shot?

Interestingly, although Barbusci and Sheehy legally changed the name of their company from Harbor Port Development Partners to Sydney Harbor Investment Partners in October 2016, Barbusci’s LinkedIn profile (as of 11 September 2017) had yet to catch up:

Screenshot captured 11 September 2017. (Click to enlarge)


Nor has the Novaporte website, where the “Leadership” section still looks like this:


(Also, I just realized that photo is a silhouette of a container ship superimposed over a photo of the Sydney skyline. Nice.)


But seriously, folks

Does it matter that our port marketers seem to view the web as that kitchen drawer where you throw things you don’t know what else to do with? (“This old media contact? Throw it online. This autobiographical fragment in which I talk about copper smelting? That can go up there too. Oh, and while you’re at it, toss in the old name of our company a couple of times.”)

In 2017, I think it does. I think serious businesspeople in any field would want their website to include the legal name of their company and a functioning email for their media contact person and to be free of typos (especially in the flashing, pull-out quotes).

But I would think marketers — people who supposedly do this for a living — would be especially sensitive to the face they presented to the world via the internet.

Unless the hottest marketing trend in 2017 is actually “half-hearted semi-accuracy” in which case, my hat is off to them — they’re nailing it.