Friday, August 31, 2007

Spreading Some Chief Dollars and Traveling Fans

As Nat and I are packing our bags and heading out the door this afternoon for a drive down to St. Louis for the Labor Day weekend, my mind keeps wandering back to a post I wrote almost a year ago. We're multi-tasking in St. Louis: Nat is going to a wedding and I'm going to see my Illini take on the Mizzou Tigers in something they're billing as the "Arch Rivalry". I'll be tagging along to the wedding, and Nat has consented to joining me at the game, so it's a win-win for everyone involved.

While I'm putting on my orange t-shirt, I keep thinking that we should have a similar impact on St. Louis that Clemson has on towns they travel to. In fact, other teams could/should be doing this, too. The Hawkeyes of Iowa are playing NIU at Soldier Field tomorrow. Imagine all those crazy farm folks from Iowa staying at the Fairfield Inns and La Quintas around the Chicagoland area spreading out 2 dollar bills with yellow hawks on them at the Chi-Chi's and Olive Gardens. The staffs and owners of the stores and restaurants would certainly be surprised by the impact that the travelers are having.

So...I guess I first need to get a Chief Illiniwek stamp made up and then get a few people using it. Start spreading the love at games.

Or, what if we built an effort to get people using the "Chief Dollars" or "Chief 2 Dollars" just in Champaign during football weekends. We could demonstrate the spending power of the pro-Chief alums and at the same time keep the Chief alive around town! I wonder what it would take to start selling black market chief stampers? Maybe my original idea of Sacajawea dollars is a better thought!

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Coming Soon: Wii Beer Pong

If you think Guitar Hero is popular on college campuses across the country, wait until they get their hands on this. Midway, the video game manufacturer, is coming out with Beirut or Beer Pong for the Wii.
Video game publisher Midway has a new game coming out for the Wii system. “Party Game” will consist of several games including shuffleboard, darts, and ski ball, but the game that will take over college campuses this fall is Wii beer pong. Or Wii Beirut. Or “Ping Cup” as Midway refers to it: The object of ping cup is to use the Wii remote to throw a ping-pong ball at a pyramid of cups.

Seems like that "Flippy cup" game is a natural fit for the Wii isn't it? A little flick of the Wiimote and you turn your cup over? That would round out the package.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Building out the Illinois 2010 for Governor Web Operation Playbook

I've been doing some thinking about the Governor's Race in 2010 here in Illinois. It's going to be wide open on the GOP side and I think that Lisa Madigan (whom I'm presuming will be the nominee) will be tough to beat. Doable, but tough.

The part I've been thinking about is (obviously) the web part of the media operation. I'm going to lay out some of what I would do here and give my thoughts. I'm pretty confident that most if not all of the campaigns that will be run in Illinois will be so buttoned up, that I'm not in any danger of someone implementing these. We'll see, though. Who would have thought that the House Republican Leader would have let me run his online operations for 2 years with a loosey-goosey blog, pre-YouTube videos, a persuasive game, and DraftDitka.com.

The Parrillo Online GamePlan for 2010 in Illinois: (Note...I'm not really going to talk about the actual campaign website. At this point, everyone will have one and they'll all be pretty similar. My only advice there is to recognize that the site isn't just for fundraising!)

1. Create a MLB.com-like news reporting agency within the campaign. Create original content within this news bureau. Remove the filter/reliance that the media creates. All that is following will basically "live" within this new agency/bureau.

2. Hire a cute journalist and a cameraman/video editor and do WallStrip for Illinois campaigns and have it live within the new reporting agency/bureau. Why hasn't anyone done this? Produce a short 3-5 minute video every day (M-F) on what's going on in the campaign, the people, the candidate, etc. There's some cost here (salary + equipment), but it's not very significant. WallStrip does it for less than $1000/show, so I think a campaign for do it for even less. Create a separate site for this show (like WallStrip does), and then allow folks to embed it, watch it, mix it anyway they want to, anywhere they want to, anyhow they want to. Put it on YouTube, allow bloggers to embed the videos on their site, and **gasp** put it on the official campaign site. Politicians fear that people will remix/reuse footage of them in an unflattering way against them. That's not going to go away. But what will this give the candidate? A much larger megaphone to yell into.

3. Copy Matt Drudge, which Hillary Clinton has already done with HillaryHub.com and create a news "pointing" service. Put this site up early. Before you announce. Start pointing to things on the web. Things you create. Things the campaign creates. Things the press shop creates. Things the media create. Things your supporters create. Things your opponents create. Things this new agency/bureau creates. Etc. Links, eyeballs, and google juice will follow.

4. Widgetize your content. Allow folks to put your content where they live. On their Facebook pages, MySpace pages, blogs, email signatures, etc. Some folks are already doing this nationally, but it hasn't trickled down to the State races yet.

5. Hire Henry at OneMan'sThoughts if you can afford him. If not, then get him to volunteer on your team. Empower him to do whatever he wants to do within his blog and the campaign. I could see him leading the blogging commenting system for the campaign (the proactive engagement of the community).

6. Make sure that the news bureau/web services/news agency lives outside of the press shop. It isn't a buttoned-down operation that can be run by the Chief of Staff. Have it be another "shop" like organizing or field, press, fundraising, and this new one: web/news bureau.

7. Create and iterate. Repeat. With the freedom of this new organization and the right folks involved, this group should be empowered to think "big" and get creative. The costs are mostly in staff related expenses. Treat it like a minor start-up within the campaign. Give them the autonomy to do what they want and the results will help the overall campaign as long as the right person is running the operation and has the clearance from the top to get the most out of this setup. What kind of staff do you need? I dunno. Say: 1 on camera talent, one dynamo who can film/edit, one generalist on the web, an engineer or two, and some outreach folks.

There's all the other pieces of the web that fit into different parts of the campaign like list building, email distribution, fundraising, text messaging, messaging overall, and volunteer development. Those are important, but that's blocking and tackling. In 2 years everyone will be doing that stuff. The really fun part of being in a campaign would be to be the first to create this new news/reporting bureau within a campaign. Start on the ground floor. Do it right and the impact would be huge.

So...now the question. Who can do something like this. Lisa Madigan? Nope. Wouldn't get past all the female guards at the gate. Control, control, control. Top down campaign. Besides with all those women involved, they wouldn't be too keen on hiring a female journalist to do the video part of the operation.

Republicans? Who's running? Bill Brady? I don't think he'd be willing to pull it off. Dan Rutherford? Maybe. But he'd have his sister or someone running it and it wouldn't work. Ron Gidwitz? He could do it, but I think he'd get derailed by all the consultants.

Who's my guess who will do this? Tom Cross. He has the personality to get this going, embrace it, and make it succeed. Look at his good staff: Kevin Artl and David Dring. Those guys know what they're doing, they're sophisticated enough to execute in the field and with the press. Cross is also the one with the courage to think differently and approach the new media from a different perspective.

Will anyone do it? I would say yes. It might not be in time for 2010, but it'll arrive in Illinois sooner or later.

Friday, August 24, 2007

PrepsPlus is Better, More to Do

Today is a big day. It's the first day of the High School football season. It's huge in places like Texas and Florida, but it's a pretty big deal in the Chicago suburbs. I live in a community that works up quite the lather during the season. The Lincoln-Way East Griffins are perennial contenders for the 8A title and they've won it 2 years ago. Across town in New Lenox, there's both the Lincoln-Way Central Knights (my alma mater) and Providence Catholic (another perennial contender annually).

Tonight, the L-Way East Griffins play their annual game against Providence, and that will sure be a great match-up. L-Way Central heads to East St. Louis to play the powerhouse tomorrow. Either way, the season will be off with a bang.

With the big games slated for today (weather permitting!), the Chicago Tribune rolled out an expanded Preps Plus section on the web. They're billing it as "Your Illinois Hometown Report". In a further attempt to go "hyperlocal", the Trib has created a "page" for each high school. Here's the page for Lincoln-Way Central. They're going to try to aggregate content around the teams on each of these pages. It's a great idea. One that they haven't totally executed on....yet.

They have a strong strategy and have a vision for where this should go.
We'll have football standings for the first time – updated as quickly as we can get the scores entered. We'll have photos we shoot – and photos you shoot. We'll have video we shoot – and video you shoot. We'll have the best high school sports forums around. We'll have headlines on as many local events as we can find. We'll continue to recognize Athletes of the Week.

I've looked around and all of those "citizen journalism"-type of tools aren't available yet. They're relying on either the schools or fans to provide much of the coverage and customization of the pages. The "rosters" are blank, the photos are placeholders, and the only thing that's baked in is the schedules.

One of the biggest issues is the layout and design. It's garbled, to say the least. It's terrible, but so is MySpace, so that doesn't matter much. The extent by which they feature/organize/highlight the user submissions is the most interesting part for me. If they are successful in gathering/aggregating the content from parents and fans of teams in the suburbs, they'll surely win.

Creating a hub site for, what I would assume to be mostly parents and superfans, would achieve the goal of getting the ChicagoTribune.com site in front of more people more often. They can expand the coverage and go head-to-head with portals like Rivals.com as they bring in more features like recruiting.

So...what would I do? I'd go out and get a big tent. Hire a few interns and send them to the "top game" each week like College GameDay does on ESPN. They won't be broadcasting, but they'll be telling people about the pages, encouraging them to upload their photos, write their stories, etc. Give away some schwag. Nothing goes better at high school football games than noisemakers. Get some printed up, give them away.

I'd also be sure to feature some of that "user generated" content front and center. Put it on the homepage on Friday afternoons or mornings. Get people excited about submitting stories, photos, and videos. What else would I do? Provide a blogging platform to a player from each team. Or a coach. Just give them the tools to tell their story. When you do that you'll create an internal "cheerleader" for the page who will help promote the page in and around the community.

With increasing competition from more "local" content providers, the Tribune is smart to start thinking about user generated content from a sports perspective. If they execute wisely, they'll earn a significant piece of the market and plenty of eyeballs.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Last Comic Standing: Lavell Crawford

One of the by-products of traveling for work is that you end up alone in a smallish hotel room with nothing to do but surf the web and watch television. If that wasn't bad enough, for me, it's been summer-time television - which means a lot of reruns, reality shows, and filler. Last night I ended up watching part of Last Comic Standing, which is a show that is trying to find the "best" comic in America. (as a side note, they must be looking for the best amateur, right? But...what really is an "amateur comedian"?)

Anyway, I think I might have found my new favorite comedian: Lavell Crawford. He made me laugh out loud repeatedly. This morning, one of the first things I did was look up some of his other material on YouTube.

It's priceless. I have no idea if he survived last night's show, but if his act was the only consideration, they should hand him the prize right now.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Memorial Stadium Overhaul

My old stomping grounds, Memorial Stadium in Champaign is getting a major facelift. They're adding new permanent stands to the North Endzone, and updating both the West and East Halls. The addition of a new press box and an assortment of luxury suites will bring the Illini in line with the majority of the schools in the Big Ten stadium-wise.

They have trained a webcamera on the Northside construction. I've been checking out the feed everyday. I think if I put this image up here, it'll show what's doing for you live on this blog. If you see little men working, hit refresh and they should have moved! Pretty nifty.

(picture taken down)

While all the talk recently has been on how tough a place to play our basketball areana, the "House of Paign" or Assembly Hall is, I think Memorial Stadium, when rockin' is a very formidable home. It has classic lines with the columns, and once the horseshoe portion is done (phase 2?) and there is a more direct link with Assembly Hall, we'll have a great home field advantage.

I probably rank Camp Randall as top dog in the conference, followed by the Horseshoe in Columbus, then probably Michigan Stadium, then our Memorial Stadium or Kinnick in Iowa. What's your picks?

Champaign (Engineering) Dreams

There's plenty going on down in Champaign and it's not all football related.

First, Yahoo announced that they're expanding to bring an office to campus, then Valleywag reported that the U of I will partner with the Library of Congress to preserve Second Life as a museum artifact.

All of it makes sense. It's a great engineering school who's churning out great talent. We need to do everything we can to keep those bright minds here in the state.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Friday YouTube Find: You Only Live Once

I can't stop listening to this song. It's the Strokes from "Top of the Pops". Equation Boy/Man took me to see The Strokes a year or so back at the Aragon Ballroom. I bet they played this one.

BP: Beyond Petroleum My Ass

bp.gifEspecially in recent weeks, with their focus of going more and more to the left (on purpose! Can you believe it?!?!?!), I haven't had too many mornings where I'm riding the train to the city and I find myself agreeing with the Sun-Times and the Chicago Democrats. Today, however, I was pleasantly surprised. First, there's this article about Alderman Ed Burke putting the screws to BP for attempting to dump more toxins into our Lake Michigan. The environment should be an issue that cuts across party lines. The GOP should seize this opportunity to stand up to big business. The Republicans can win on the environment if we want to. We should be winning on the environment, or at least, taking it off the table, should we? Outside of Congressman Mark Kirk, where's the GOP?
Chicago's most powerful alderman called Thursday for a boycott of oil giant BP -- by city government and consumers alike -- to stop the company's refinery in northwest Indiana from dumping more pollution into Lake Michigan.

...Burke isn't stopping there. He's also using the clout he has as finance chairman to unilaterally cut off city bond business to three financial institutions whose directors have "interlocking relationships" with BP: Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and the Royal Bank of Scotland.

The chairman of the board of BP is also the chairman of Goldman Sachs International and a director of the Royal Bank of Scotland. Another BP director is also chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland. Still another BP director is a director for Bank of America and McDonald's.

The stakes are high. Since 2002, Goldman Sachs has received $1.1 million in city bond business. Bank of America has raked in $1.8 million.

The city's leverage against McDonald's is the lucrative concession agreements the fast-food giant has at O'Hare and Midway airports, Burke said.

Bravo, Alderman Burke. The Sun-Times knows to strike while the irons hot, and today they editorialize about the issue. They throw this jab at the oil giant:
t's hard to believe a company that made $22.3 billion last year can't afford to come up with a more creative solution.

It's a solid issue, and one that Congressman Mark Kirk is standing up for. You can sign his petition here. I've already signed it. Go ahead. Join me.
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