Thursday, May 31

Saving Jericho: Seven Solutions For Rangers

After seeing “low tech” Les Moonves, president and CEO of CBS Corp., dismiss Jericho with The Wall Street Journal, I realized something. While I wrote up early solutions that CBS might have considered in handling their show cancellation crisis (even if they are in denial), I’ve seemed reluctant to provide any tips for the Jericho Rangers (fans of the show). Why?

Mostly because the fans have more than proven their mettle by producing the biggest show cancellation protest in history. In fact, watching the nuts total exceed 31,000 pounds over at NUTSOnline is only one measure of their wildly successful campaign. Within hours, they raised almost $8,000 in disaster relief for the tornado ravaged town of Greensburg, Kansas (ending claims that Jericho Rangers could put their time to better use). They are also a chip shot away from reaching 100,000 signatures.

Yesterday, upon learning I wrote about a controversy in my hometown, they sent me a “thank you” for the day before — thousands of visitors in the course of two hours. This kind of movement really makes me wonder if CBS recognizes that the Jericho Rangers are adding numbers faster than any are getting tired out (and even those that are tired do not seem willing to give up, much like they won’t be discouraged by negative posts that are beginning to pop up on the CBS Jericho message boards).

What CBS is also missing is that this movement is much bigger than the CBS Jericho message board. If it continues, I don’t know how long Jericho Lives will be able to contain it and that would mean all bets are off for Moonves. Still, since all of this has taken on a life of its own, some of my team members started kicking around what would happen if we did toss over a few solutions for the Jericho Rangers. After all, fair is fair …

Solution One: Tighten Your Message. Everybody “diggs” the nuts campaign for its novelty. And it continues to generate buzz at various news bureaus. But what is sometimes missing are those clear, crisp speaking points about the show: tell people why this isn’t just another sci-fi serial with diehard fans (it’s not). Reinforce your doubts that Nielsen accurately captured the show’s ratings.

Solution Two: Expand Your Base. When you think your Ranger growth is slowing, round up friends, family, and neighbors to your cause. Sure, they might never have seen Jericho, but they will support the show if you ask them: sign the petition, buy some nuts, or mail a pre-stamped pre-addressed postcard. This could tip the balance, keep it in the mainstream, and engage more people.

Solution Three: Local Speakers. Several times throughout the campaign, Jericho Rangers have come close to missing in-person interviews with local broadcast companies, especially CBS affiliates. It would be advantageous to locate and identify speakers before you need them in mid-sized and major cities across America.

Solution Four: Affiliate Buy-in. Probably because CBS affiliates are much closer to the fan base, they seem eager to report on the protest. I can only imagine, but part of the reason is associated with the local affiliates being able to sell the show. Besides, if they cover it, other non-affiliated stations might follow suit with their own spin. Local stations borrow stories all the time.

Solution Five: Star Power. Sure, the fans have kicked around star power for some time, but they have yet to make it connect. The secret is to secure celebrities not affiliated with CBS or any other network. Designate a team (but don’t overwhelm them) to contact publicists who want their client on the front cover of Star Magazine saying “nuts to CBS” or simply something nice about Jericho actors, writers, or producers. The reward: 8-9 million moviegoers.

Solution Six: Forget Rumors. If anything distracts this fan base the most, it must be the constant buzz of rumors. Just the other day, on Shaun O Mac’s online radio show, Stephen Scaia mentioned the Jericho set is still standing. Look, we all know the fans already secured a wrap-up so a working set only makes sense. Enjoy these rumors but stay focused until CBS says “yes, season two.” Then celebrate.

Solution Seven: Reporters Rock. Don’t get me wrong. The first rule in media relations is appreciating that the media is never your friend. They will report your missteps as quickly as your successes (it’s their job). With Jericho fans, however, there is a bit of a twist. You’ve won most of them over. So please, don’t dismiss or ditch them when a story doesn’t go your way. They’ll respect you for accepting a setback and be more willing to consider a follow-up.

So there you have it: seven solutions for Jericho Rangers. I could float a dozen more because grassroots campaigning comes pretty natural for someone who has worked on a few political campaigns and community causes. But these seem to fit best with your most pressing needs. Most will simply move you to the next level, which reminds me…

Never turn off a fundraising effort when it is working. If you are raising money faster than you can spend it, there is always the next advertisement in the next publication. If the campaign ends before CBS comes to its senses, then you can always donate the proceeds to Greensburg, Kansas, or wherever you wish. Who knows? Maybe some can be slated as seed money for the convention or, even better, help fund Rangers to make more group appearances. You need some.

In closing, always keep faith in your friendships, even when the numbers don’t seem to add up in your favor. If I had a nickel for each win that I was told couldn’t be won, I’d be ready to retire.

The bottom line: all of this comes down to CBS making a choice, just not the one that you or they think. It’s not the show; it’s the headline: CBS Saves Jericho … or CBS Says ‘Nuts’ To Customers.

If I were a shareholder, I would hope they’d pick the former and not the latter, because the latter is a loss. Even Mr. Moonves would have to agree with me that shareholders like to pick winning decisions, not losing ones. Or maybe not. To each his own. But if CBS were one of my investments (it’s not today), I’d be voting someone off the island.



cbsplaysdirty on 5/31/07, 6:40 AM said...

Once again, great article. I'm so happy you are giving us some common sense advice and taking our cause seriously. For me, this is about much more than saving one show. It is about trying to bring back quality television.

mikesmom7 on 5/31/07, 6:57 AM said...

Agreed. I've enjoyed everything you've written, not just for the positives but for the direction and advice. Thanks for sharing your expertise with us here. Jericho put the TV Drama series category back on the map. A though provoking hour of TV that keeps you wanting to know "what will they do next". Finally, a show that breaks the cookie cutter mold and thinks outside the box. Thanks again for your comments and insight.

Anonymous said...

Rich, what can I say?! You simply continue to help us stay focused and inspired! We love reading your blog and we are very grateful for your support! Have you noticed that we posted at least 161 pages in response to the WSJ article? You can barely get the page up with high flying internet speed!!!!

A small group of us on the Boards who reside in KS are getting together to branch out and focus on getting on the radio with the goal of reaching all those who do not yet know that Jericho has been cancelled in the hopes of getting them included in the campaign. Then as a much larger group, we move on to the next stage! I've actually been lucky enough to obtain an on air interview with our top rated country station on Monday morning 06/04. We are so NOT giving up! NO worries!

Thanks again for such wise advice!
Ms. DVR Addict

falln_angel on 5/31/07, 7:03 AM said...

Thanks for the intelligent, clear-headed post. There are a lot of people out there telling us that we're the nuts, and it's really refreshing to see such support outside of the message boards.

I've seen a lot of good TV shows cancelled over the years, and I've never cared enough to stand up and fight for them until now. (Although I'm pretty sure I would have joined the Browncoats if I'd had cable at the time...) There's something different about Jericho - to me it represents what television can be, and this stand is about letting the networks know we won't accept less.

Sweet Tea on 5/31/07, 7:08 AM said...

Thank you for these solutions. You are kind to help us. We are very grateful. I Hope Mr. Moonves reads your blog.

Alexander on 5/31/07, 7:19 AM said...

Thank you good sir!

Yes. It is indeed important to keep it up with the recruitment. Family and friends are easy.

But what about trying to recruit at school and work? It would probably not be tolerated from the school's side, but it is worth a shot.

Also I think that it is vital to inform people in other countries (especially where it airs) that the show is being cancelled, and that there is a huge campaign to rescue it going on.

Countries I know of are:

I also heard something about Latvia, but I can't confirm anything.

frierson on 5/31/07, 7:27 AM said...

Thank you again for your coverage and comments. Your columns are always insightful and a pleasure to read. Thank you again for believing in this campaign and for providing advise and guidance..

mpbnice on 5/31/07, 7:53 AM said...

Thanks so much for your latest article, and the advice. All ideas are gratefully accepted!

I really find it difficult to believe how myopic CBS is. They're rejecting the very audience they should be courting.

Rich on 5/31/07, 8:07 AM said...

Thank you, but in case I wasn't clear ... your ideas all rock! :)

The car signs are brilliant. Clarke's "Dear CBS: What Kind of World Do You Want?" letter is great. And all of the ideas in the comments have merit (though a stronger North American base will better serve you than Latvia. ;)

Another point to remember is that you don't have to prove anything to Les. Les has to prove to YOU why you should watch CBS.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the continued support. It's nice to see that we are finally being recognized as "regualar" people and not computer-savvy, TV-obsessed fanatics .


Rich on 5/31/07, 9:40 AM said...

Famous Words:

"So it may be no surprise that a new ratings system offered by Nielsen Media Research could fuel the fire for a return of "Jericho," which showed that the now-canceled series from CBS had more viewers watching the actual commercials, even when they were playing it back on their DVRs.

"Jericho" finished ninth among all television shows broadcast in 2006-07 that witnessed gains in the key viewership demographic of adults 18 to 49 in commercial viewing after it had been played back on a digital video recorder. In fact, "Jericho" saw a 3 percent increase in commercial views after it had been taped for three days, putting it in line with similar gains made by "My Name Is Earl," "Numbers" and "Medium."

The significance of such a report means that although fans were recording "Jericho" and watching it later, unlike most other programs, many fans were not fast-forwarding through commercials. Advertisers like that, obviously, because their goal in spending money for commercial slots is so their message can be heard." — Michael Hinman, SyFy Portal

Rich on 5/31/07, 9:55 AM said...

My Take On Hinman's Article (On Digg):

Really, this is Michael's best artcle on Jericho, imo.

While he didn't say it, it presents evidence that CBS is making old world decisions in a new world. Many other networks, for good or bad, have re-tooled their executive teams in favor of people who have a better grasp of new media.

CBS has made some moves in the right direction, but Les Moonves, president and CEO of CBS Corp., did the network (and shareholders) a grave injustice by saying the company would be slow to embrace new media despite major investments in Joost and other platforms, shrugging off 8-9 million Jericho customers, and representing himself as a "show-me-the-money" kind of guy.

Low tech, low touch, and out of touch are some of the words used to discribe him by WSJ and other members of the media. Kudos to Nielsen for recognizing that if they are going to be part of the future, they need to change the way they think. Moonves needs to do the same or, like many executives who have underestimated social media, he will be out of the door. You can't dismiss social media and survive anymore. Enough said. — Rich

Andi on 5/31/07, 9:55 AM said...

As always, an incredibly well-written, insightful article.

Rich, you are what all bloggers should aspire to.

EverydayAnomaly on 5/31/07, 10:31 AM said...

Great Article, Rich.
We all know CBS dropped the ball on this one. The winter hiatus, putting it up against Idol, then no advertising when the show started back. However, it is still nice to see your take on this. Thanks for the advice and keep it up!!

Unknown on 5/31/07, 10:55 AM said...

To be entirely honest with you Rich, I think you're on the wrong track. While there is no question that this advice can work for a political campaign, I don't think that Jericho's rise will ever be treated with that level of accreditation. As a result, celebrities are certainly out of the mix (And, to be honest, I think that would just be plain hokey).

I've written a response to this on my own blog, but in short: I think that the campaign needs a Stage Two, not just an extension of the existing stage. These suggestions certainly are good for reinforcing current support, there isn't anything to really expand it.

Here's my full response. I guess we have different views on the way this movement can head forward.

waterboy405 on 5/31/07, 11:37 AM said...

Another great article, and I as well as the rest of the Jericho Rangers greatly appreciate your comments, commentary and recommendations. In the past several days, it has been very helpful to hear the media's response to our campaign and recommendations such as yours are so incitful at a time such as now. It is definately time to move into another stage of the battle and your recommendations are a great place to start. Thanks again.

Rich on 5/31/07, 12:01 PM said...

Hi Myles,

I read your rebut and responded on your blog. With no disrespect intended, there wasn't much validity in the argument. Where you excel in English, it fell short on a review of communication tactics. That's right. The above solutions are tactics, not a strategy. Frankly, I am disappointed you didn't know that.

In sum, while sometimes I like what you write, since you're an English teacher and all, this one really missed with me. In fact, all I have been seeing from you lately is a consistent effort to naysay the Jericho fans and anyone who writes an assessment that leans toward the positive. This is a real shame since I always believed teachers were supposed to inspire rather than disparage people who actually take action for a cause (and I don't mean me; I mean the fans).

As I said before, you continue to dismiss every milestone they've made and every fact presented. Ho hum.

All my best,

Donna on 5/31/07, 7:20 PM said...

Gosh it's nice to have somebody at least ATTEMPT to level the playing field for us! Your suggestions are great. Thanks so much for mentioning Greensburg. That was such a lucky offshoot of this whole thing. People who probably wouldn't have been touched by their plight got to see the photos and understand just what we could do without really trying. When you make it easy for people to give, they tend to do it. I'm still amazed by Jeff at Nutsonline for setting up the donations as I know his profit margin was probably already razor thin on the Jericho nuts.

Even after the fight for Jericho ends, I'll be back to read your blog!

Jared on 5/31/07, 7:40 PM said...

Thank you so much for your coverage and advice!

I feel that is about time networks realize that their viewers are not a bunch of dumb robot people that will sit back and take all of the thoughtless reality TV. I for one am a college student, and I don't relate to much of the programs on TV. I did relate to Jericho. It was thought provoking and had a point and was realistic. It was a riveting drama, and I felt I could relate to several of the characters. Is it so much to ask for thought provoking television? Or for Networks to get out of the stone ages and realize they are not getting accurate stats on viewers from the limited reach of neilsons?

Just look at how resourceful the viewers of Jericho are, we sent tons and tons of nuts, raised money for a community that is rebuilding, organized professional advertisements, bombarded them with letters, calls, and mail.... Get a Clue CBS!

Rich on 5/31/07, 9:41 PM said...

Thanks Donna, Fizz, everyone. Hey, in case you missed it, I have some more famous words...

More Famous Words:

Timothy Omundson (Phil Constantino) left a wonderful thanks on the CBS Message Boards. Check it out.

What I want to highlight here because it ties so well to solution 5 is his humorous parody after his thank you (the first actor I'm aware of to go beyond thanks and talk nuts, sort of):

"And now, a word from Constantino:

Dear Jerichoians...or is that Jerichoites? Doesn't matter. Give up! I will destroy you! I'm not saying I'll like it, but I'll do whatever it takes to see my Beloved New Bern survive another winter.

Look, we all admire your spirit and your drive, but come on already! Enough with the NUTS!

You're mad at us. I get it. I said I was sorry about Johnston. What more do you want from me?
Hang on. Someone's at the door...

!@%$#*. I swear if I get one more Mixed Party Tray I'm going to go out to my shed and build a catapult and start sending these things flying back by the ton. How would you like that? Huh?!
Seriously though...Can you lay off ? I've got a pretty wicked peanut allergy.

Hey, that's weird. Do you hear Helicopters? Uh oh. I gotta go.

Love,_Your Future Ruler_Mayor/Sheriff Phil 'The Beard' Constantino" — Timothy Omundson

Omundson, who was well known for his work on HBO's Deadwood, is an actor to watch. And his words come on the heels of producer Carol Barbee confirming that other networks are interested in the show. She confirmed it tonight on Shaun's Radio Show.

Rich on 6/3/07, 8:14 AM said...

More Famous Words:

"I was also struck by the caliber of the people I spoke to: former military personnel, wives and families of current military personnel, teachers, mothers, fathers - all of them well spoken and incredibly sincere. I know the quality of people I was fortunate to work with every day on the set. I am, however, surprised and thrilled to see that our core audience is cut from that very same cloth.

I've been in this business a day or two and have never seen a reaction like this. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thanks for what you are doing and who you are. You keep doing what you're doing and fighting the good fight and I promise you, if you get "Jericho" back on the air, we will all do our dead level best to give you the kind of show you want and so richly deserve.

I know that you are forging this battle amid the hustle and bustle of your own busy lives. I for one am flattered beyond words and am forever in your debt. Again, thank you and - in the immortal words of the might Trojans of USC - FIGHT ON!!!" — Richard Speight

"So...I'm eating lunch with friends and suddenly someone walks by and plops a Hollywood Reporter on my table with a full back page ad that says - NUTS! Are you kidding me?! You guys are F-ing fantastic! I'm sorry, I can't contain myself. What a group of fans!

So it's the bottom of the ninth, the 11th hour, the fat lady is warming up, it's nearly all she wrote...and here comes the rest of the team. The fans!" — Bob Stephenson

More and more actors are directly addressing fan efforts to save the show.

Rich on 6/4/07, 11:30 AM said...

More Famous Words:

Before the post was deleted, apparently by accident, Pamela Reed came out with the strongest language yet, saying, I am told, CBS doesn't know how to count. Ouch.


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