Saturday, June 30

Embracing Jericho Fans: CBS

Watching the CBS-produced fan video featuring BlogTalkRadio radio host Shaun O Mac, it's almost hard to imagine any ill words spoken during the show cancellation protest a few weeks ago. CBS seems to have embraced the fans.

"Seems" might be the operative word. Jericho fans are learning that passion-infused protests are much easier to orchestrate (if they catch fire) than an organized fan base for reruns. It's also one of the reasons I advocated for the creation of an association of sorts, back on June 10, to keep people engaged.

Some Jericho fans have hinted that the fan club is something they would love to do, but aren't sure how to do it (some insist anything beyond an individual "uncollective" is unwelcome). Others hope CBS will take the lead, but I'm unconvinced this will happen until the network officially goes beyond seven new episodes. Regardless, the longer it takes to create an engaging organization, the more difficult it will be to retain active participation and capture media interest, which has long tapered off (no surprise; there is no new "big" news).

As a somewhat related side note, I want to highlight that the three different fan bases I've covered, all have very different structures. Veronica Mars fans are interconnected groups of individuals that come together not unlike Tinker Toys, with hubs and spokes that branch out forever; fans of The Black Donnellys are generally centralized as a single body with a few offshoots; and Jericho fans operate like a donut, with various equal bodies but no clear center. Each structure has its advantages and disadvantages.

Specific to Jericho fans, however, is the need to add a centralized body in the center of their donut, which might provide CBS the direction it needs to endorse, if not support, some representative body. How can this be done?

Organize A Delegation. Last week, Jericho fans clearly demonstrated that unless they become sidetracked, they are people with principles (not just passion). Given this, it seems to make sense that a fan club might be created by having each group nominate an equal number of individuals (1-3) to represent their various forums and collectives. (These individuals may or many not serve on the board once the club is ratified. I recommend picking those who have consensus-building skills, not necessarily leadership skills, at this stage.)

Create A Name And By-Laws. Having written and revised several organizationd' bylaws, I know finding the right example is not difficult. Although unrelated, The Winnepeg Goldeyes have excellent bylaws that could serve as a starting point. Here are a few other points to consider:

• Keep the focus large and fill in details (like member dues) later.
• Draft bylaws within the delegation, outside input is not needed.
• Create an executive body that is elected by the populous.
• Allow the board to consist of representatives from each group.
• Keep it simple. Four traditional executive roles could be enough.

Upon completion (again, without some details in place), give each group an opportunity to ratify the document (so to speak). Send along a courtesy copy to CBS so they are aware of your intent, but don't be overly concerned with an endorsement at this stage.

Elect Interim Officers/Board. Officers could be elected by the entire populous (all groups) and other board members elected from their representative groups (I appreciate there is crossover; but you have to start somewhere ... ask people to vote in only one group). This interim body will be charged wih taking care of the details.

Consolidate Resources. Most fan clubs have to determine overhead and cost of operation at startup. Jericho fans will also, to some degree, but they seem to have more flexibility in being able to adopt/endorse existing projects that have already seen some success (merchandise, newsletters, blogs, etc.). This will help defray any initial costs and communicate ongoing progress.

Legal Requirements. One of the responsibilities for this central body will be to take care of the details: establishing membership dues (even token dues), sponsorship/donation opportunities, filing bylaws, opening an account, setting up an Amazon affiliate program to sell DVDs, etc. Keep CBS apprised of all activities; encouraging them to eventually endorse the group by demonstrating solidarity.

Create A Community. While the last thing Jericho fans seem to need is another forum, there is the possibility of creating a social network on a platform like Ning, linking to and/or adding RSS feeds to the various represented bodies. Promote the launch of the community, keeping in mind that the goal is not so much to create a new group as much as it would be to provide a neutral community to conduct business, etc. (Various groups/forums are free to pursue their own efforts as they currently do, with the only added task of enrolling members in the fan club.)

The benefits of a central organization for the promotion of the show, various represented group activities, and eventually its own endeavors, would provide a long-term strategy that will help ensure the success of Jericho. And, even in a worse case scenario, provide a mechanism to expand the Jericho Universe in the event CBS abandons the show.

However, the real benefits will be made apparent when the fans succeed. It could become a centralized body that works closely with CBS in developing fan-generated marketing and promotional items while drawing attention to each represented group's best practices.

At least, that's the way I see it from a conceptual standpoint (if you need more guidance or I'm not clear, just ask in the comments). But then again, I'm a big fan of the republic.

In closing, here's an update on last week's DVD tracking via Amazon for anyone interested (alpha order)*:

The Black Donnellys
(Reviews: 24; Sales Rank 1,576; Peak Rank: 356)

(Reviews: 58; Sales Rank: TBA; Peak Rank: TBA)

Veronica Mars #3
(Reviews: 32; Sales Rank: 15; Peak Rank: 8)

*represents what we saw; not necessarily an official number. We'll be watching Entertainment Weekly once all three are released.



Unknown on 6/30/07, 11:18 AM said...

Hi Rich,

I have been involved with the Save Jericho campaign from day one and did all the paid media placements as well as other organziational tasks.

Your article is right on the money and I am pleased to tell you that this IS in progress. In the next few days, we will be launching a fan club that will be a legally incorporated entity. There will be more details posted shortly, but it will embrace all of the points that you have listed in your article.

We will be launching with an opening board of directors until a membership base is established at which point a formal election will take place.

I have had posts on the CBS Boards for the past few week soliciting suggestions of activities, benefits and goals for such an organization and we will be seeking input from the new members through a survey as to which of the suggestions (as well as new ones and some of our own) they want to incorporate in their organization.

At this time, we are not claiming title to "official" status, but once launched - if people like what they see then we will reach a critical mass of membership and then approach CBS and/or Junction Entertainment for a more formal status as "official".

It is very hard to be democratic in a grassroots movement, such as the one that currently exists, which is why I have picked an organizing committee from the volunteers that came forward. The principal that I am embracing is that we need to be able to work together and accomplish the goal without getting bogged down in minutia at the founding stage. My feeling is that once we have the entity established with some structure, it will be like a blank canvass and those who wish to participate can do so within the context of the new entity and within a framework of by-laws with a democratic and accountable structure.

Jeff Knoll

Rich on 6/30/07, 11:26 AM said...

Quick Clarification:

While this is best worked out by a bylaws delegation as described, the fan club would likely best be served by four elected officers (president, vp, secretary, treasurer) that all individual fans would vote for ... and 1-4 additional board members from each group.

In sum, the officers could be elected by a majority of fans, but the other board members would be selected (or elected) from their various groups. I also think the bylaws delegation might be different than those you might consider to take the helm, not for any other reason than to protect those individuals with leadership qualities. :)

Hope that helps. :)

Rich on 6/30/07, 11:29 AM said...

Hey Jeff,

That is great to hear. I don't always read the finer details on all the boards; there is a lot to keep up with. I hope some of this information helps with the endeavor then. Mostly, I'm just glad to hear there is some organization in the works.

All my best,

Sweet Tea on 6/30/07, 11:45 AM said...

Thanks, Jeff. You do such a good job. I appreciate your efforts.

Thanks for the article and mention of Ning. I went over and joined as JerichoMonster. I think it's a great place. Just have to work on it a bit more.

Rich on 6/30/07, 12:20 PM said...

Great JS,

You might be add value to the Jericho effort there. I like the platform. Forums are good too, don't get me wrong. It's just difficult to keep up with them all, especially Jericho boards (and CBS). With you as the host on Ning though, I'd certainly join.

Hmmm ... I do sometimes wonder how far we can take the post-protest case study here. It might make more sense to wait for the big news like most non-fan bloggers and journalists.

All my best,

maybei on 6/30/07, 5:11 PM said...

We don't need a fan club. Really.

So far we have managed pretty well in organizing many efforts to promote Jericho. I fail to see what having a fan club will do to further those efforts.

There really does not need to be one group of people thinking they are more "significant players" in the effort than others. And yes, that has been said by the organizer of the fan club.

kystorms on 6/30/07, 5:20 PM said...

Hello Rich

While you make excellent points for being an organized group ( fan club) it is going to have to have to be built with the input of so many of the fans who have worked so hard during this whole event.
As I have been told millions of time through out my life, there is no "i" in team. I just hope that what ever is done, its to the betterment of Jericho and it's fans :-)
Great article, and as always I learned a few things.

Rich on 6/30/07, 5:40 PM said...

Thanks Lisa, I appreciate it. You're right of course. I suspect it would be difficult for this group to get behind a central body if they perceived it was started without consent. There are always two ways to create communities: someone builds it and invited others to join; or people come together to collaborate.

Hey Vicki, duly noted. I think I addressed right in my post that many fans want nothing to do with a fan club. I'm certainly not starting a club. This post simply reflected an idea that would benefit a majority of members who did want to consider it and a possible mechanism for accomplishing it through collaboration. I'm not sure why, but it seems a specific group of fans mistakes what I wrote as a call to action; not so. I'm not selling anything, which is why I didn't list out the varied benefits beyond the June 10 post. Some people asked and I obliged.

If anything, from what Jeff says, it's a post post anyway. ;) However, I might also mention that there is a vast difference between participating in a fan club and attempting to prevent one. That might be misappropriated energy — now that's something worth writing about.

All my best,

Unknown on 7/1/07, 6:40 AM said...

Hi Rich,

As always great article. I agree with what most have commented here. I think Jerich does have the best seat to create an organized "official fan club" as they have the numbers to do so.

Unfortunately, for The Black Donnellys, our number is rather small, that who knows if this would be the right time to engage new viewers. This has definitely been one of our tactics. We've always tried to engage Jericho viewers, Crossing Jordan, Studio 60 and Soprano fans to take a few moments to watch an online episode of The Black Donnellys so that they can become new viewers. It is very time intensive and resource intensive.

It has been difficult just gathering the now almost 37,000 individuals that had signed the petition, to participate in the campaign. While our numbers increase every day, those numbers are small. I'm not sure exactly, the best way to remedy that.

Rich on 7/1/07, 11:23 AM said...

Thanks Ruth.

The TBD fan base seems to operate like a fan club (though not officially) to some degree because it is centralized. That's an asset.

I was surprised that TBD interest is reasonably large, given the relatively small number of shows that aired. I think it might even be larger than you know, with many fans not signing the petition because they don't think anything will come from it.

They may be right, but mostly because they believe it. If I were organizing TBD fans, I would certainly promote to any organized crime groups ranging from the Sopranos to The Godfather. The objective being not to get them to join per se, but simply watch one of those free episodes ... hopefully that will interest them enough to consider the DVD.

For the TDB fan site, I would consider expanding some (only some) to talk about related shows (like mentioned above) or movies, attracting a broader consumer base beyond TBD fans.

In some ways, what you are really talking about is pure consumer marketing and that is a bit different than a show protest (I think TBD is past the pure resurrection point, but still save in thinking a spin off concept or movie, which makes sense given Haggis' experience). Hmmm... if only NBC would have waited a year before releasing it.

All my best,

Rich on 7/1/07, 4:58 PM said...

Since the Jericho fans are seemingly split over centralization, I want to offer up that whether you have one or not is not critical, but there are substantial benefits.

I didn't address every benefit because it's all over this blog. Here is one of them from my June 1 post:

"When guests speak to employees (or bloggers engage an audience), the customer's perception of the company still becomes confined to that interaction."

So really, it all comes down to this ... what is more effective: 20 people with different messages or 20 people with the same message?

If you send mixed messages to CBS, bloggers, journalists, new viewers, and anyone who happens by ... whose to blame them for passing by unsure of how to respond and what to tell other people.

Lots of people, professionals and politicians, hate it when I say this simple truth, but it is the truth. In the United States, polarized politics is the very reason our international relations are a mess. What's the old saying? United we stand, divided we fall. Something to think about. When I wrote this piece I did think about that.

If you don't oversimplify it as "fan club or no fan club," you might find I wasn't suggesting you mash yourself together, I was suggesting a central body that represents all fan groups and fans so that when you want to ask CBS something, you just might get an answer or if you want to have everybody post about Jericho on July 6, the Internet might pay attention.

When you think about it, there is the only reason there is a Jericho to argue about anyway ... you used to have one message. Now you have many.

All my best,

Debby on 7/1/07, 6:30 PM said...

Rich, I believe you are correct in your assessment that a fan club would help the fan movement. It would give a voice to the many. I believe a number of fans would support it. While fans clubs aren't for everyone, I have never read of one hurting a show. Thanks for your insight.
Debby from SC

rubberpoultry on 7/1/07, 6:59 PM said...

Hi Rich,

I think your suggestions are worth consideration, but I wonder if we have it in us to pull them off.

Throughout this campaign, some great things have been done by many factions. At the same time, territory seems to have been claimed, and while those establishing turf have existed somewhat peacefully, if they were forced to become a union, we may see a civil war break out amongst the fans.

I think the donut metaphor is an excellent way to describe what we have been and currently are, but I have to wonder if we really need a center. I certainly don’t miss the center when I grab a Krispy Kreme and take a bite. Seriously though, the real problem comes when you ask a group of donut enthusiasts to decide which flavor to make the center.

There have been, and continue to be great leaders in this campaign, but their styles of leadership, and their interaction with the fans vary greatly. There seem to be a few camps (which I won't attempt to name or describe) who all have a pretty good idea of what they want to bring to the campaign to keep Jericho on the air. They have achieved much success in their individual efforts, and we got the show back. I have to wonder if having a centralized leadership board is necessary.

I've existed in this movement as a sort of wild card 3rd party to all of the leadership efforts. I suppose some have looked at me as a quasi-leader (as I have read in a few posts), but my goal has just been to get the show back, then get it attention.

My posts are very visible because of the visual content I’ve created, which has meant that I have been approached off the board by many of the people involved in the campaign (including some of the “leaders”) . I have respect for all of them, but I have seen in my peak behind the curtain that we may be able to accomplish more as a league of individual leaders, than one single leadership group.

This is just the opinion of one fan.


Rich on 7/1/07, 7:21 PM said...

Thanks Debbie.

All excellent points. I agree that attempting to force or muscle or coax this group into anything is a mistake.

I think were I differ is I am suggesting that Jericho fans have the best of both worlds. Individuals and small groups operating as a donut, but a central body when it needs direction and consensus to move mountains or rally all the groups to a single promotion ... not all that indifferent from what the founders of our country originally set out to do.

All my best,

Unknown on 7/2/07, 7:27 AM said...

As far as I am aware, we already have a centralized body with one message and the ability to take ideas to CBS. This body does a great job of collecting information from all over the Jericho fandom and incorporating it into a unified message.

However, some people are evidently not working with the spirit of being team players. No one can make these people work with the centralized body already in place - the ones who promoted the ideas that worked to get our show back in the first place. No one has to agree with everything someone else says in order to be a team player, all that is needed is a desire and willingness to put the show first.I think all the rest of us can do is to keep supporting the current centralized body and hope for the best (shrug).

Rich on 7/2/07, 9:21 AM said...

Thanks openminded,

If that is true, I think that is great. Right now though, it doesn't seem to resonate with people outside the central body, especially people who are interested in Jericho but aren't part of the existing fan base. That doesn't mean it doesn't exist, only that it doesn't look like it exists. Unfortunately, perception and reality are the same thing to anyone not in the know.

All my best,

Unknown on 7/2/07, 10:46 AM said...

And you have a good point that a biggger effort needs to be made by the fans to let new fans know about that site.


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