Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Long Tail of Athletics

Chris Anderson's book, The Long Tail, was recently reissued in paperback with an additional chapter and some revisions. I regret not having seen this business book earlier, but at the same time glad that during the last year I had not.

I say this to prod others to go get a copy and read it (it's a quick read, and well written). The editor of Wired magazine, many of his conclusions have been my own independently arrived at theories of where we are headed as an industry.

The Long Tail refers to the growing ability in the digital marketplace of profit to be obtained from inventory or information once considered unworthy of reaching the shelf in the physical business world. He also speaks to the ability of things out at the end of the Long Tail effecting brand.

In other words -- it all matters. It matters what the minor sports or doing (and how they are covered). It matters that those bloggers are defining who we are.

The most stunning chapter for our field relates to the Chevy SUV experiment where they encouraged people to make their own commercials. I vividly recall how the Madison Avenue-ites clucked at Chevy for being stupid enough to let the public use their website against them. To make anti-SUV ads. To poke fun at the brand. And to let it all stay on line. What clueless idiots.

Get the book. Read what really happened to Chevy's SUV sales numbers.

Anderson hits some of my favorites (and he's a much better writer), but really hones in about the change from Speech to Conversation with your fans regarding the brand; that we no longer control our brand -- our fans do (see the Dell Sucks section).

More to come over the next few weeks from the book. In the meantime, it's in almost any Barnes or Borders, pretty sure its at Audible.com also.

Monday, October 27, 2008

The Importance of Metrics

So, who does your clipping these days? All the SID types remember clipping -- cutting out those actual literal articles and filing them away. In the digital shift, clippings start to have less and less meaning to the majority in our field.

That's all the more reason to clip more.

Tracking and measuring the success of placement of messages -- oh, sorry, press releases -- is crucial to the ability of the office to do two things. First and regrettably foremost in these Excel-spread sheet driven times, it proves the worth of the enterprise. X-number of inches can be translated into monetary value.

What should be more important is gauging the effectiveness of the operation, and it is more important the further down the Long Tail of sports publicity we move. Anyone can generate voluminous copy for a major sport at a major college. Except where pro sport franchises are sucking the oxygen out of the mass media, how many inches D-I football gets isn't the issue. How many inches is the soccer team pulling at the same time; the D-III football team, etc.

Certainly there are other metrics -- click through on websites, as a prime example -- but for the publicity office this remains an important one. If the inches are declining, what are the factors? Smaller news hole? Sport attendance also dropping, indicating a decline in fan base? Here is where the SID can shine, because if they can buck those trends, they have proof of their effectiveness.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Was It Watergate Bad?

Back when I was at Northeast Louisiana, my GA was taking a readings course for his communications master's. He recalled the less-than-stellar effort of one of his classmates on a review, which ended with her proclamation that the scenario covered by her book "was bad; it was Watergate bad."

Ever since in our circle of friends, when we speak of the clueless and their errors, it's always referenced that the event was "bad, Watergate bad."

Submitted for your approval today, one Isiah Thomas. He has, indeed, been bad, Watergate bad.

Just ask the chief of police in Harrison regarding Thomas' quite incredible statement that she was the person who had difficulties. That the 47-year-old male transported from his house to the hospital for an al overdose wasn't necessarily the former coach of the New York Knicks.

Thomas told the New York Post that he wasn't the one treated for the sleeping pills problem, and inferred without directly saying it that it may have been his 17-year-old.

The money quote from police chief David Hall:

"These people should learn something from Richard Nixon -- it's not the crime, it's the cover up."

The Thomas family is sticking with their story, as Isiah's son is also saying it was his sister that needed treatment, not his dad. To this the Hall replied:

"My cops know the difference between a 47-year-old balck male and a young black female."

On the one hand, I'd ask the media to consider their impact on the family by gleefully engaging in a Schneidenfreud contest at the expense of the Thomas family.

But Isiah. Really. That was bad. Watergate bad. Both literally and figuratively.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

The Latest in Free Video

As the 20th century world continues to try and limit the expansion of streaming, this just in -- want to beat the system for your home team's video stream? Hook up a deal with someone off shore, rig up the slingbox to a Dazzle unit, push stream through a proxy to the off-shore and then tell all your buddies about the free video.

Or, by shorter name, justin.tv.

Are we really surprised? Free television beget pay cable; over time pay cable became standard thanks to advertising and cable systems wanting to hold off satellite. Now various pirates around the world are making those ever-so-portable digital assets, well, portable.

The networks have finally figured it out. The streaming is free (to the end user; of course it's advertising supported) for Hulu and many of the major sports teams.

This is just the more advanced, less cease-and-desistable, version of using the home state billing and zip code to fool systems (or proxy servers to beat IP checking).

The college sports world will fight to keep its blackouts and protections. And the ones that will get hurt are the ones with U.S. addresses. Kind of like the reward Real got for trying to play by the rules with the movie industry over copying DVDs to hard drives. They're injuncted, but all those off-shore DVD rippers that will never pay royalty dollar one continue to roll.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Losers on Both Side of a Digital Divide

Sarah Palin's hacket is charged for breaking into her Yahoo account. The son of a Tennessee legislator is paying the price for compromising the privacy of a public official.

Unfortunately for the governor of Alaska, Palin is now getting reprimanded for using a personal email account for doing public business.

Readers here will know that's a no-no -- proven already in the LSU women's basketball situation as administrators tried to loop around their ".edu" known FOI'able accounts.

Turns out the state of Alaska takes a very dim view to not doing the public's business on the public's email system. Learned today also that the state of California (Brown's Law) is even more of a stickler under a combo of FOI and open meetings.

Let's repeat again: Don't expect to keep your private email private if you use it at work, even for private functions. Why? Because you are using state computers, state routers, state connectivity. I continue to be amazed at colleagues -- here and at other schools -- that insist on using a Yahoo or GMail account to read ALL their email. Good luck separating out your personal business from that account you are forwarding your ".edu" official business to.

So the world has this hacktivist from Tennessee to thank for revealing the Palinista email circle. So, you betcha, he's gonna pay some fines; but gosh darn it, the illegal activity revealed another illegal activity.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

You Didn't Just Say That

Moments ago, the talent for ESPN's telecast of Clemson-Georgia Tech:

DAVE PASCH: It seemed like the players had a lot to do with this because Terry Don Philips was allowing them. The Athletic Director was allowing their voices to be heard.

ANDRE WARE: Which should never be the situation in a the case in this. You’ve got to gather everybody up, and you go to the coaches. If it does indeed come down to this kind of situation. Kids should never be speaking out about changes that are made from the top. It should never happen.

DAVE PASCH: With all the different kinds of media we have out there. Players’ comments. You’re in a small town like Clemson, South Carolina, where anything the players say is going to get printed and talked about ad nausium.

Whoa. Wait a minute. Let's parse that shameless shot at TDP.

First, God Forbid an athletic director that talks to student-athletes. Last time I checked, the job in college sports has dramatically changed from being autocratic to being inclusive. That's the reality.

Second, and the most ridiculous, it was the fault of the athletes that live in lil' old country towns like Clemson?

How about this small town paper -- ESPN? No problem in this pre-Bowden departure game story of Wake quoting the Clemson quarterback's vent.

And of course, who missed Tiger QB Cullen Harper's quote when Bowden resigned:

"It's what he deserved," Harper said. "Dabo Swinney is a fine man and will do an excellent job."

What small down paper carried that quote prominently -- why even in a big text pull quote box in it's front-page story. That would be E-SPN.

And how did ESPN get that quote? Harper texted it in to ESPN reporter Joe Schad. He realized later that was ill-advised, but did manage to dig himself a little deeper with a blog on Sporting News. Oh, those darn internets and texting.

Never forget what the first letter stands for: Entertainment.

If the ESPN crew wants to say that Harper's comments were in bad taste, sure. That they were self-serving as he had been benched by Bowden, sure. But these are the days of Web 2.0, and people want their opinions heard.

Does Harper need a little media training? Oh Yes. But Pasch and Ware might want to understand that their own company was that small town that printed the words of the players.

UPDATE: The talent crew in the closing minutes of Miami-Duke are picking up the mantle. The payoff line -- a kid shouldn't say someone deserves firing because there are children involved, other coaches and families involved -- and that Harper should not have spoken out.

Care to guess what network? Yep, ESPNU.

While we're piling on the "kid" for speaking out, why is no one getting on the "adult" reporter who didn't take into consideration that perhaps a young person was making a mistake with his text message?

Friday, October 17, 2008

On the Wall

Or maybe Twitterish -- at soccer, waiting for kickoff.

Great discussion today with colleagues at another major college about a project regarding the reaction of SIDs to the new media.

Proofing through 192 pages on-line will leave you a little blurry.

More coherent comments tomorrow. Meanwhile, The Long Tail is the book on the nightstand. Huge. Again, more later.

Time to set the streamer and get ready for futbol.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

I'm Back

Lord. Anyone who's been through the wringer can relate to facing down 192 pages of media guide.

But, it's over for the 20th time here at Arkansas; the 24th in a row on women's basketball.

So, what did I miss? I did take a moment to drop a note about the faux death of Steve Jobs. My good friend Dan Gillmor once again has the best, succinct take on the event. His blog entry recalls how the techniques were used and misused.

Leo Laporte on This Week in Tech (OK, it was last week's This Week) had several of the key details, most notably that the first-post anonymous blogger used a proxy to make his now infamous rumor post.

As I noted, it's not the citizen journalist that was wrong, it was how horribly bad traditional media can't handle when it tries embrace Web 2.0. A modicum of checking would have revealed the obvious attempt to mask tracking.

Monday, October 06, 2008

Not the Way to Reintroduce a Coach

Again, light posting here as we wade through printing deadlines, but this couldn't wait. It's from the English Premier League as Newcastle United announces the return of Joe Kinnear to the league as a manager. Let's just say that one might want a better relaunch, and it takes any tirade by an American coach. By one estimate, 51 bleepable words in the rant, and Kinnear settles some scores with individual writers.

I warn you right now, this is not anywhere close to PG-13. Depending on your connection, it may not be viewable and could be considered NSFW. The F-word is prominent.

It's horrible, yet you can't look away . . . .

Newcastle's Joe Kinner: "I have had a million pages of crap written about me."

Friday, October 03, 2008

Failure to Administer

Citizen journalism gets down right dangerous when established media groups use it as a replacement for trained staff, or as a primary source for short-staffed situations. CNN got a very hard lesson in that with today's rumored Steve Jobs heart attack. Silcon Alley Insider has the best recap on this on their page.

It reveals the danger of no governor journalism -- the person making the post was a first-time poster to the iReport part of CNN. Even the most basic rule of thumb is not let a person go full post on the first time.

Bit chilling that according to web sources, not only has "johntw" and his post disappeared, his profile claims this iReporter has not uploaded any iReport stories. That's Soviet-style revisionism at its finest.

Expect investigations, not unlike those by the FBI and Secret Service into the hacking of Sarah Palin's email. This time it will be the SEC (not the athletic league, the government regulators), and you know they will have the IP for johntw by lunchtime.