Showing posts with label jericho. Show all posts
Showing posts with label jericho. Show all posts

Saturday, June 9

Crunching Nuts: Jericho Wrap-Up

Just a few weeks ago, Jericho fan Jeff Knoll had a somewhat nutty idea. If the fans could hook up with a nut company, they might be able to pool enough money to buy "a few hundred pounds."

If ever there was an underestimated measure of success, this was it. Fans not only sent a few hundred pounds, they sent a few thousand pounds — 40,297 pounds to be exact. And that doesn't count the nuts that were bought elsewhere.

Yesterday, two pounds from landed on my doorstep. Fortunately for me, they were a thank you instead of protest flack (rumor has it I may never write about Jericho again. Hmmm ... spoiler warning ahead).

Given all the what-for about "blogola" lately, I did what any ethical writer would do. I'm disclosing today that I ate some with a clear conscience. They are just as "yummy" as the bag claims. Thanks.

Not so yummy were portions of Nina Tassler's announcement to the fans last Wednesday. I couldn't bring myself to mention them on June 6 because it would have only distracted from the celebratory success of the fans. In wrapping up the show protest, I'd be remiss not to bring it up now.

"A loyal and passionate community has clearly formed around the show. But that community needs to grow. It needs to grow on the CBS Television Network, as well as on the many digital platforms where we make the show available."

If there was ever an inappropriate time to bring up the point, it was certainly in the same graph that praises the following of fans. It smacks of a parent telling a child what to do and when to do it, and that comes from associates of mine who weren't fans but knew I had been "covering nuts" since the beginning. Is it any wonder why CBS and Les Moonves come under fire so often?

CBS is fortunate the fans love the show so much that they've already forgiven this transgression and moved on to marketing the show. They might not be this forgiving next time around.

It's also not the first time that CBS slipped with statement writing (or marketing for that matter). I submit that CBS created the fan outcry with a single line on May 18 when another post penned by Tassler read: "In the coming weeks, we hope to develop a way to provide closure to the compelling drama that was the Jericho story."

Had the statement held back even a little bit — "In the coming weeks, we hope to develop a way to see what we can do." — Jericho fans would have had a much more difficult time mounting a movement (but I'm glad they were able to pull together the biggest).

Wow. The difference a few words can make when one underestimates a crisis communication situation. No matter, I suppose, unless you are one of the few subscribing to the conspiracy theory that CBS orchestrated the whole thing. I don't think they did, but then again, crazier things have been known to happen.

For me, what started as a crisis communication case study shifted into a study of social media mobilization that might wake up some public relations professionals and communicators who are still sleeping comfortably in corporate tradition. (Case in point: it just happened here in Las Vegas too; Wynn Las Vegas dealers became the first dealers in the history to unionize because the employees could connect on the Internet.) I'm not surprised.

Social media — blogs, vlogs, wikis, podcasts, networks, and scores of other tools — represent a significant shift in communication tactics. It also allows almost any group, with the right objective and rally cry, to come together and change a company, industry, or even the world.

For my part, I enjoyed writing about the show cancellation protest because of what it represents and the spirited nature of the fan base. Some people said I was "nuts" to cover it so much, but only because they didn't bother to look behind the literal lines and notice that today's Jericho might be tomorrow's social media crisis for "company X." Will company X be ready? Probably not.

The fans of Jericho have been an awesome addition to the people I know and admire online. Enough so that our Jericho round up is almost too good to let go. Sure, the Jericho show cancellation protest is clearly over and I have to say case closed.

But I see another case study in the making as fans set out to create a fan base for a serial that, so far, has only enjoyed a single season. Hmmm... I'll post some ideas on how they might proceed tomorrow (and mention some efforts already in place). I'll also keep tabs on the Jericho fans from time to time, once a week or so as warranted.

Will this cause some of my non-Jericho readers to groan and moan and suggest that "Jericho" become my middle name? I don't think so. Until Jericho, I seldom posted on the weekends anyway. Besides, Jericho cannot be my middle name because I'm already's middle name. Ha!


Wednesday, June 6

Celebrating Jericho: Season Two

Nina Tassler, president of CBS Entertainment, is all about making history. She has so many times that it's almost a crime to pick just three.

She sparked the biggest fan protest in history with the cancellation of Jericho. She received more nuts than any television executive in history. And she had the pleasure of announcing the biggest cancellation reversal in history. Not bad for a few weeks work.

Addressing the fans of Jericho at 5:08 p.m., Nina Tassler officially announced "Wow! Over the past few weeks you have put forth an impressive and probably unprecedented display of passion in support of a prime time television series. You got our attention; your emails and collective voice have been heard."

Jericho will be back mid-season next year with seven new episodes.
In the interim, CBS is working on several initiatives to help introduce the show to new audiences:

• Re-broadcasting “Jericho” on CBS (this summer)
• Streaming online episodes and clips (online)
• Releasing the first season to DVD on Sept. 25
• Continuing the story of Jericho in digital media

"On behalf of everyone at CBS, thank you for expressing your support of “Jericho” in such an extraordinary manner. Your protest was creative, sustained and very thoughtful and respectful in tone. You made a difference," Tassler went on to say. But the best line of all, in our opinion, was found in the postscript of the post.

P.S. Please stop sending us nuts

Check back for the post show this weekend. Or stay on anyway. :)


Advertising Jericho: YouTube

As the Los Angeles Times and hundreds of publications scramble for confirmation that the rumors originally broken by TV Guide are true — CBS will give Jericho fans a season two in the form of an eight-episode run mid-season — we can't help but to look at some side bar social media stories, three of which are on YouTube.

Cast Campaigns. Actors Richard Speight, Bob Stephenson, and Brad Beyer took to YouTube to thank Jericho fans and prove they know how to spell "N ... U ... T ... S" while boosting the fan campaign by playing the Peanuts theme.

Fan Advertising. One fan, going by the handle "RubberPoultry," produced a Jericho Season 2 promo that jazzes up the fan base, but then reminds people that Jericho won't be back unless they do something about it.

YouTube Documentaries. While it might be a little long in the tooth at four minutes, the "Nuts!! to CBS Delivery Collection" captures some of the emotion behind the message boards. We can forgive the length, mostly because of the dubbed WWII movie segment starting at 2:54. Funny stuff.

There are dozens more, but these three are among our favorites. They represent a shift in video communication created by social media. It's the very reason public relations professionals need to brush up on some new skill sets.

Jericho fans dazzled us by filling forums, bolstering stories, signing petitions, making videos, getting press attention, shaming entertainment writers who said it could not be done, and, of course, shipping off 40,000 pounds of nuts. Sure, today it is CBS, but tomorrow it might be your company that finds itself dealing with a new brand of crisis communication.

Social media has turned passive viewers into active consumers, given cast members the ability to address fans direct, and proven that no one should underestimate a dedicated group of individuals who happen upon the least likely, but amazingly effective, message ... NUTS!

We look forward to reading the official "resurrection" announcement from CBS before providing a post-show wrap up. If Nina Tassler, president of CBS Entertainment, needs any inspiration, she can find it scripted for her back at the bottom of our May 26 post. We won't even send a bill.


Saturday, June 2

Understanding Viewers: TV’s New Consumers

Who are these people?

It seems to be the number one question being asked by people all over the world, including CBS. Who are these people that have sent more than 35,000 pounds of nuts to CBS and flooded executive e-mails and phone lines? Who are these people who can rally more 1,000 to 5,000 signatures a day, every day? Who are these people who have captured headlines in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and the Los Angeles Times? Who are these people who dominate the Internet on blogs, forums, and BlogTalkRadio?

Who are these people?

They are students like my first fan contact Brian Kalinka in New Fairfield, Conn.; administrative assistants like Diane Roy in Grande Prairie, Alberta, Canada; business owners like Lisa Ludvicek in Overland, Kansas, and Debra Newman in Bonner Springs, Kansas; online talk radio hosts like Shaun OMac in Las Vegas; and radio operations managers like Clarke Ingram in Pittsburgh, Penn. People with diverse jobs, educations, incomes, and interests that all have found common ground in a television show called Jericho and CBS Jericho message boards.

“All of us were concerned about cancellation because word was that the show was ‘on the bubble,” says Ingram, talking about message board discussions just prior to the May 15 leak that the show would be cancelled. “The next day, May 16, Shaun OMac hosted what was going to be a ‘wake for Johnston Green’ show, but it turned into a discussion about the cancellation.”

According to Ingram, the radio show put voices and real names to the screen names that make up most message boards. They were real people, and it served to unify them to save the show. It also served to bring some ideas. Ingram is credited with being among the first to say “Nuts!” to CBS (he refutes this, offering up that dozens of other fans said it first); OMac suggested they put the words into action; and a Canadian fan, Jeff Knoll, quickly made arrangements with Jeffrey Braverman at NUTSOnline.

Who are these people?

They are a cross sampling of North America, 9+ million Jericho fans who enjoyed the show and feel unrepresented by Nielsen Media Research. Many watched the show as a family (as evidenced by many comments left on our blog alone). Some were CBS message board regulars. None of them seem to typify the definition of the cult following that they’ve been compared to since capturing the title of the biggest cancellation protest in history.

In fact, when you look at the events over the past few weeks, believe it or not, this entire movement happened very much by accident. Ingram’s original farewell post is a testament to this; it was meant as nothing more than a thank you to the actors, writers, and producers before CBS deleted 3,000+ of his posts and temporarily banned him from the message boards.

Since, they have transformed from an accidental gathering of viewers into a “can do” consumer movement with a very clear message to networks: television viewers do not have to tune into programs just because there is nothing better to watch (there are plenty of options). With hundreds of channels and dozens of recording and download options, we have become actively engaged consumers who expect more from the entertainment industry than copycat programming, sudden serial ends, and executives who lay blame on the viewers they need to entice advertisers to pony up multi-million dollar profit margins.

Who are these people?

You don’t even have to like Jericho to understand these fans or appreciate how they feel. If you’ve ever enjoyed any television program only to see it unjustly cancelled because someone didn’t look behind the Nielsen numbers, then you can empathize with this spontaneous uprising of support for Jericho. The only difference is that these viewers and others decided to do something about it.

And in the process, whether they win or lose (though I think they’ll win), they are changing the way networks think about their ever-increasing niche products. Maybe not CBS, but certainly NBC and Fox, both of which are placing less emphasis on the Nielsen numbers alone and more emphasis on listening to viewers. But isn’t that the lesson for every executive lately? Numbers are great, but without the demographics and psychographics behind them, numbers mean nothing. So who are these people? They are everybody.

“I've heard CBS is asking ‘where were these viewers during the regular season?’” noted Ingram. “We were right here, using online platforms that you provided … we were here, but not measured by Nielsen.”


Friday, June 1

Digging Jericho: Jericho Fans

This is an unplanned post, but I really want to give shout out to the fans of Jericho. On Tuesday, I wrote a post entitled "Marketing Jericho: Season Two" and the fans decided to digg it. They are not the only ones.

Since, the original post has popped up on some pretty unexpected places, including the wildly popular, which is a news aggregator and an edited social networking news site. Every day Fark receives 2,000 or so news submissions from its readership.

Since I'm no power blogger by any stretch, I've found the results of your efforts pretty impressive and amazing. The one aforementioned post has been viewed 10,000 times since Tuesday. And that does not even count any other post related to Jericho. Considering the average blog reader shares what they read online with 3-10 people offline ...

More importantly, many of these 10,000 unique visitors were not Jericho fans, per se, so you've done a tremendous job continuing to promote your efforts to more people. It certainly lends well to Solution 2 in yesterday's post. It also demonstrates the sheer power of the fan base beyond the numbers we usually round up: almost 34,000 pounds of nuts (from NUTSOnline); almost $10,000 for Greensburg, Kansas; and 100,000 signatures. If you're new to this story, visit Jericho Lives.

With all these numbers, one might expect Les Moonves, president and CEO of CBS Corp., to pay attention and perhaps read my post on Frontline Communication to brush up on his reflective listening skills. But no matter. As I said yesterday, it's not the job of the fans of Jericho to convince CBS to want them, it is the job of CBS to convince Jericho fans to want CBS. Nuts!

Thanks again for all your comments. Just remember I don't think for a minute that I'm a hero. It's the opposite — you're the heroes and I'm your fan. Without all your hard work and countless hours invested, there would have been nothing about Jericho to write about (something I wish more journalists would keep in mind). Tomorrow's post will reflect that. Until then, all my best — Rich


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.


Tuesday, May 29

Marketing Jericho: Season Two

As rumors continue to surface (and they are only rumors) that Jericho might score its miraculous second season, the first step for CBS would be to fix the show's marketing message.

If anything kept potential viewers at bay, it was one simple oversight: CBS never redefined the show from how it started to what it became.

Case in point, the original plot line read something like this...

A nuclear mushroom cloud appears on the horizon -- and for the residents of Jericho, a small Kansas town, it could mean they're the only Americans left alive.

I bounced this off a few friends and family members this weekend and none of them were interested. Who wants to see people die of radiation poisoning or be evaporated under the heat of a nuclear blast? We saw enough of that, years ago, with the movie The Day After, they said.

The descriptor is also responsible for most critics rounding up the serial as a "nuclear apocalypse drama," which conjures up those same images of radiation sickness and despair. BUT that's not the show that captured millions of fans despite a midseason break. These fans, the ones responsible for the biggest show cancellation protest in history, saw something else.

Jericho is a story of survival in a small Kansas town that has been mostly cut off from the outside world after a disaster shatters what most of us take for granted in America.

"Wow!" My friends and family, who have never watched the show, said. "Now that is something that sounds worth checking out."

Hmmm ... so a "small town survival drama" beats a "nuclear apocalypse drama." Go figure.

The above description of the show, based loosely on a compilation of fan comments I read over the last few weeks as they campaign to entice new viewers to download the series on iTunes, drives more interest and adds understanding why this fan protest has tipped from viral into the mainstream.

That's right. The Jericho fan movement has officially tipped, after capturing the attention of the The New York Times.

“We are impressed by the creativity of their campaign,” Chris Ender, a CBS spokesman in Los Angeles (which received far fewer nuts than Manhattan), told The New York Times. But so far executives haven’t changed their decision about the show, he said.

(Don't worry Mr. Ender. Jericho fans are lining up a West Coast nut company just so the Los Angeles offices will not feel left out.)

Maybe the executives will change their minds today. Dubbed "Super Nut Tuesday" by fans all over the world, today is the day that NUTSOnline delivers 5 tons of nuts to CBS offices today (the largest gift delivery of nuts in history and only a fraction of the 26,000 pounds purchased for CBS at a single store). At least ten "Jericho Rangers" (a name given to active fans) will be there when the nuts arrive to help unload.

Today is also the day that fan ads break in Variety magazine and The Hollywood Reporter, after the fundraising was so successful that Jericho Lives had to ask fans to STOP sending in donations (at least until the next ad).

These tactics are just the tip of a larger, somewhat makeshift but respectable strategy, which has also resulted in securing more than 90,000 signatures to save the show. For the most complete picture of the mounting news coverage and buzz, drop by Jericho Links.

Or, visit the CBS Jericho message boards where many efforts have unfolded in real time. The boards also include a growing number of actor and producer comments, thanking the fans for their support.

Dollar for dollar ... pound for pound ... the Jericho fans might produce some scrappy marketing material and unsure public relations practices, but the results speak for themselves. They have generated more media coverage, marketing buzz, and interest in the show after a few weeks than CBS did all season. You have to admire that, whether Jericho fans get their wish for a second season or not.


Sunday, May 27

Freeing TV: Dr. Seuss On Jericho

One day, making tracks in the prairie of Prax, came a North-Going Zax and a South-Going Zax. — from The Zax by Dr. Seuss.

And, well, we all know what happened. Neither Zax would budge in the prairie of Prax, not an inch to the east, not an inch to the west. But the world did not stand still. It grew up around them.

Has the Jericho story turned into a deadlock, with CBS and Jericho fans embraced in an unblinking standoff? Some people might suggest this is the case, but I really don't think so. Not in the least.

If there is any deadlock to be found, it's between the measure of new media and old media, which has put a wrinkle in the compensation model for content creators. Jericho fans just happen to be a large and growing group of people who say the world is more than ready to grow up around this deadlock and remove the TV ratings system.

I won't go so far to say that Nielsen Media Research isn't needed. It is. But what I will point out is that we already know most networks have wanted to expand beyond Nielsen ratings for some time.

Just yesterday in an Associated Press story, Fox executives cautioned against counting American Idol out simply because Nielsen reported that the 30.7 million people who watched Jordin Sparks win last week was a "sharp drop" from the 36.4 million people who watched Taylor Hicks win last year.

Fox said that for the season as a whole, American Idol ratings are about the same when DVR viewing is taken into account. Bravo! That's the same assessment made by Jeff Jensen with Entertainment Weekly, who asked viewers "Are You Killing TV?" His story points out that the way people are watching TV is changing, which is skewing the somewhat flawed and thinly sliced rating system even more.

"Consumers value the ability to manage their time more than ever," said Ted Sarandos, chief content officer of NetFlix to Entertainment Weekly. DVDs and DVRs allow fans to "enjoy a show at their own pace."

Kudos to Jensen for pointing out the obvious. No kudos for Chuck Barney of the Contra Costa Times. He knows the numbers are flawed but went right on ahead with a piece that screams "IT WAS NOT a good year to be a television programmer. New hits were hard to come by and several old favorites lost some of their power to enthrall."

Using Nielsen ratings exclusively, he said "serials have no snap, crackle, and pop ... sitcoms are poison." I'll give him a couple of points on asking producers to practice some gun control before killing off major characters weekly. But, overall, his story only reinforces a myth that TV is in trouble. Not trouble; transition.

Sure, the networks are not doing everything right by flooding the next line-up with six new "nerd" shows, countless reality TV spins, and repackaged crime dramas. But they are hardly doing everything wrong when you look beyond Nielsen numbers.

Mark Harris, also writing for Entertainment Weekly this week, comes close to making a similiar case when he suggests that numbers alone don't make quality movies. Paraphrased: If you care about your customers — the 2 or 5 or 10 million who are passionate about Friday Night Lights or Rescue Me or The Office (he lists more) — they will stay with your show as long as it's good. Their enthusiasms and high standards and judgments may even help, indirectly, to make what you have better.

But what about the money? Please! If you think for a minute that a show like Jericho cannot make money with 8-10 million fans, DVD sales, and future syndication (alone), then you're out of sync with the industry. Jericho has already paid off with a pretty good profit margin. The only real hold up is that networks haven't settled on a "measure" for making decisions in the world of new media.

Yet, finding this magical "measure" isn't even the real challenge (that's easy). The real challenge is making it through the transition.

Sure, I know there's a lot of talk about advertisers, but that's just nonsense. I've written more than once on how advertisers are aleady diverting dollars away from mainstream advertising budgets and toward digital media, social media, and the Internet with increasing fervor. They want some changes made too.

That said, it seems to me that CBS Entertainment, Jericho fans, cast, crew, and every other stakeholder all seem to be on the same side. There doesn't need to be a compromise because all sides want the same thing: a hit show in Jericho and more freedom for TV. And, in the process of saving Jericho, these fans might even find a way to save a few other shows as well.

With Jericho, there exists an opportunity to move beyond old media measures. For me, it's an easy choice but not mine to make. It's all up to CBS. And if they pass on it, while waiting for old media Zax and new media Zax to budge, then the world may grow up around them too.


Saturday, May 26

Feeling Fallout: Nielsen Over Jericho

As more than 21,000 pounds of nuts are bound for CBS offices on two coasts, it only makes sense that Nielsen Media Research, the leading provider of television audience measurement and advertising information services worldwide, is beginning to feel the fallout.

As Jericho cast member Brad Beyer (Stanley Richmond) and Kristin from E! Online spoke Thursday afternoon, he pointed out the obvious:

"We consistently held 8 or 9 million viewers, even going up against Idol, so everyone was really surprised and shocked that we were canceled. You have to move on and let go, but you see all this fan support and you keep that tiny bit of hope in your heart."

But those numbers are Nielsen numbers. And Nielsen numbers are being put under ever-increasing scruntity by, well, everybody. Enough so that Michelle Malkin picked up Find The Boots by Boon Doggie's May 22 story that "went out on a limb" to say that the Save Jericho campaign will change the way old media interacts with the Internet. He's not the only one.

"We were all stunned when we didn't get the second-season pickup, but our fans have completely surprised us. This outpouring of support means the world to the Jericho cast and crew. Knowing that Jericho touches so many people has completely humbled us," Karim Zreik, producer of Jericho, told E! Online. "I don't know what's going to happen next. CBS and Paramount are still weighing their options. We hope to know more by next week."

The fan standpoint is obvious: CBS let us down, but we'll forgive them if they bring the show back. Nielsen let us down, because it does not count everyone. There is nothing to forgive. Ouch.

According to Nielsen, it has been working hard to abandon family diaries (like my family once had), and leverage technology that exceeds current TV audience measurements — stuff that will track everything about consumers, from what movies they like to which ones would rather go to a live ball game than tune in to a show.

The interim step has been trying to install meters on all sorts of devices, ranging from VCRs, DVDs, cable boxes, and modems. But what we may be seeing with a show like Jericho is that the Nielsen family sampling size has grown too thin as the company has made a greater effort to track specific demographics on the front end. As a result, shows like Jericho are not accurately measured and fan passion is not even a factor.

There are currently two selection methods: geographic selection (area probability sampling) in the national sample and larger markets, and randomly-generated telephone numbers (Total Telephone Frame) in smaller markets. And the reality is, especially in smaller markets, only about 2 million people are filling in dairies during "sweeps." (Oh, only about 25,000 meters exist.) So, in essence, what one family watches can influence about 22,000 viewing homes.

Nielsen Media Research says that its ability to answer more and more detailed questions about consumers will shape how the media industry functions in the 21st century.

But today, the company is only employing quantitative "democratic" measures in an increasingly interactive world that demands more qualitative considerations. As someone who understands media placement on the advertising side, it seems clear to me that Nielsen is an important tool in capturing some sort of measure. But it cannot be the only measure.

Sure, I think Nielsen would have been better off, years ago, partnering with cable companies and giving consumers the opportunity to opt in with the Nielsen ratings system, which would have increased the sampling size. But they didn't. And now it seems it is becoming more difficult for one of America's best known research companies to leapfrog to the next system while installing old media meters.

I would be remiss to suggest that CBS Entertainment use Nielsen as the scapegoat for the network's analysis of the data. But it is very clear that measurement mix is no longer just 8-9 million viewers represented by Nielsen families. The data is also about 450,000 viewers online, thousands of iTunes downloads, tons and tons of nuts, and an ad campaign that strikes at the very heart of the network's intelligence.

What does this mean?

Well, if I were Nina Tassaler, president of CBS Entertainment, I would call a press conference on Tuesday morning. Then, standing in front of a mountain of nuts and holding up the Jericho fan ads, I would put on my famous Tassler smile and say ...

"Remember how I once told The Hollywood Reporter that we're all about continuing to build our younger audience while making sure that we hold on to our core audience? Well, we still are. Jericho fans … congratulations! You just made television history and we here at CBS have listened! We look forward to bringing you a second season of Jericho."


Friday, May 25

Placing Ads: Jericho Command

Forbes recently ran a pick-up story that called it what we called it days ago: the largest viewer protest in television history. With well over 1,000 registered members at Jericho Rally Point, more than 80,000 petition signatures, and about 19,000 pounds of nuts shipped to CBS by NutsOnline alone, it is quickly becoming the largest social media protest in history.

On Tuesday, the increasingly structured Jericho fanbase is poised to move their message into the mainstream whether news outlets pick up their story or not. They are running a full-page ad in Variety magazine. The advertisement, one of several the fanbase will buy, will drive visitors to Bring Jericho Back, a Web site that includes links to relevant sites and contact numbers at CBS.

The ad, which includes story clips from The Los Angeles Times and, will be accompanied by a banner on the Variety Web site. But the fans won't stop there. They are already raising money to purchase another ad in The Hollywood Reporter and shopping bigger publications.

Such ads will no doubt rally even more to their cause, helping it reach the tipping point when a movement becomes mainstream. Rumblings across the Internet hint that may happen soon for Jericho. Message board comments on unrelated sites demonstrate people who never watched the show are anxious to join.

"I want to be part of the greatest network protest in history," they say.

While Find The Boots suggests that CBS ride the viral marketing storm a little longer, I remain unconvinced this is a prudent choice for the network. Leaving mainstream media like Newsday with nothing more than rumors that Jericho "might" make next season's fall lineup or be wrapped up in two hour movie only motivates the Jericho fan base.

The longer CBS waits to respond with anything definitive, the more likely it will have to address its decision to a mob of angry fans outside CBS headquarters. In such a scenario, competing stations would have no choice but to cover the story, solidifying CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler's call to cancel the show as the worst decision in network history (even if she reverses it). Such a label would be unforgettable, given that the public tends to be unforgiving of executives who respond too little, too late.

Sure, some people think I'm giving too much credit to the fans; even one of my best "social media" friends said I was nuts to give the Jericho story so much attention. I disagree, but only because I have the advantage of understanding what this might mean.

Having had contact with one of the two Jericho fan base leaders, I'm convinced things will get worse before they get better unless CBS comes to the table soon. The once makeshift fanbase has developed into a well-structured movement with two leaders, 10 commanders, several dozen lieutenants, and thousands of fans. In the last few days, they've added international commanders as well.

The two leaders have taken time off from work, dedicating almost 18 hours per day to the cause. The rest of the command base dedicates anywhere from 4-12 hours a day, every day. Most of them meet on the CBS Jericho forums, which demonstrates how once a network creates a social community, it's not easy to undo.

Since the beginning, they've also picked up several members with lobbying backgrounds and marketing knowledge. And, they are occasionally given tips from members of the media, like Jericho fan and popular BlogTalkRadio personality Shaun O'Mac. In fact, the NUTS campaign origination is credited to his first show covering the story.

According to Schumi07, one of the two designated command leaders for Jericho fans at Jericho Lives, the NUTS campaign means much more than a historic viral marketing effort. It represents "millions of uncounted fans that the Nielsen ratings system does not accurately represent."

It also reveals how much heart these fans really have. When asked what was the biggest surprise since the campaign began, Schumi07 mentioned several, including her rise to a leadership position.

"I'm surprised I'm one of the two leaders because I just wanted my TV show back ... I can't speak for everyone, but the entire core command probably feels the same. None of us have never fought for a TV show before," said Schumi07. "The other surprise is that Nina Tassler responded to our campaign within 48 hours. We know Nina Tassler likes the show."

Schumi07 added that she is most amazed by the dedication of the command group and the fans. Even on iTunes, they are winning. After a single request, the season finale of Jericho moved from 87 to 43. When she looked this morning, it had climbed, and continues to climb, even higher.

Still wondering why I find this fascinating? Jericho fans have raised the bar on social media mobilization. So if you're in business, it's something worth watching because next time it might not be a show that customers decide to stand behind.


Wednesday, May 23

Remembering Jericho: Back Lot Projects

Rarely have I have worked on a communication case study for the Copywrite, Ink. blog that so clearly galvanizes an audience as the CBS cancellation of Jericho. Sure, we’ve covered a few under-reported stories that have caught the attention of hundreds of readers; some who stay on long after the specific story fades into obscurity. But the CBS Jericho story does not attract hundreds. It attracts thousands. It does not seem to be fade away, but rather grows stronger every day.

As Jericho fans have taken to publicizing our case study in social media and crisis communication, we’ve covered it on more consecutive days than any other topic. Why? Analytics alone demonstrate the value of this very smart audience. They read long, deep, and come from all over the nation (and world). Some have even taken to searching past communication posts, looking for ideas.

I’m not the only place they are looking. While I have not verified these facts, Jericho-On-CBS has published some startling numbers: Jericho was the most watched show for CBS online (450,000 hits a week); Jericho delivered the highest rating in a Wednesday time slot in seven years; and Jericho frequently beat the competition in its time slot despite going up against some tough contenders. (This does not even consider how many fans watched reality shows like American Idol live and then saved Jericho on their DVRs for later.)

If all this is true, then CBS Entertainment made a mistake claiming that the show had lost steam based on ratings. It seems more likely that Jericho simply didn’t fit into CBS’s new fall line-up, purported to be hipper and edgier than past efforts. From a branding standpoint (before the backlash), it makes sense. But from a customer-centric standpoint (after the backlash), it does not.

In some ways, I appreciate where CBS might have been coming from. Some of our colleagues and online associates have cautioned me (using my own words in fact) that quantitative measures (number of visitors) should not overshadow qualitative measures (number of prospects or regular reders). In other words, they’re wondering when I might get back to a broader mix of topics. I have something else planned for tomorrow, but I just don’t know. If something breaks on Jericho, then Jericho is it. Yes, again.

You see, as I learn more about the Jericho fans, they continue to amaze me in how well they’ve come together. One said I made them sound like geniuses, recognizing that public relations professionals and political consultants might be envious of their efforts. Sure, I know in many cases these fans stumbled unto some of it, but that’s just part of the American way. We stumble upon lots of things. More to the point, however, I like to believe that imagination is more important than knowledge and this case study might prove it.

CBS is using its knowledge to justify canceling the show. The fans are using their imagination to save it. The huge volume of orders for nuts, 9,000 pounds at last count, is only a sliver of the number of nuts sent as social media has embraced this story along with a growing number of mainstream media outlets, especially dailies, entertainment weeklies, and local CBS affiliates.

Given this news, I’m putting more even faith in the fans of Jericho, even if CBS has yet to realize it might do the same. Last night, after deadlines were met, my team put together the “Remember Jericho” image as a thank you to all the fans who have popularized our case study. And, we’ve added it to a few T-shirts in our almost-ready-for-primetime online merchandise store.

As a thank you to the fans, especially Jericho Lives and Jericho Rally Point, and to ensure I remain an communication observer (my family and many team members are big fans of the show; they are the ones who encouraged me to write about it to begin with), any proceeds beyond the base price set by will be donated to the NUTS campaign. If the campaign should end, then we’ll donate it to an appropriate charity. I don’t want to detract from the funding efforts of our campaign elements nor do I want to want to make money on their efforts. (If I release a book by year’s end as planned, you can always consider that instead, as the Jericho story will be included).

The link to the Jericho T-shirts is at Back Lot Projects. Just a few tidbits about the shirt: it’s an adaptation of a vintage World War II war bonds poster, which we thought was fitting with Memorial Day almost weekend upon us and the all the patriotism that seems to surround the show. The ‘Remember Jericho 07’ line plays off another historic rally cry in American history (Remember the Alamo). But besides all that, it was fun to make.

In closing, if not every future post is Jericho focused, keep in mind that we track case studies for a long time, so there will always be another post unless we close it out. We’ll also keep adding updates in the comments. In the interim, if you are a fan and like the image, feel free to use it for non-commercial purposes.

Until then, good luck! And, what else? NUTS!


Tuesday, May 22

Shipping Nuts: NutsOnline For Jericho

After most New Jersey businesses had long locked their doors and headed home yesterday, NutsOnline was busy filling orders and fielding e-mail questions from social and mainstream media at midnight. Its total volume shipped was up 15 percent in three days.

Sudden surges in orders, especially around holidays, is nothing new for a third generation nut company founded by “Poppy” Sol, a hard-working 22-year-old with a can-do attitude on the brink of the Great Depression. But today, and for the past several days, nothing is business as usual for Jeffery Braverman and his family-owned business.

“On Friday we noticed a few orders coming in that looked kind of weird,” said Braverman, about the sudden run on nuts for CBS. “But then we Googled around and caught wind of some “NUTS” campaign and a few blogs had linked us as a place to buy them.”

If you are unfamiliar with the “NUTS” campaign, it is one of several grassroots efforts by the fans of the recently cancelled CBS series “Jericho.” Although Braverman was not a fan of show, he was curious about what seemed to be a growing movement across America. So he posted a small entry on his company’s blog and thousands of fans quickly demonstrated their appreciation.

“Then, the fans said they were looking for some kind of discount,” said Braverman. “So we decided to come up with a mechanism for Jericho fans to pool orders and get the most bang for their buck.”

Since responding to Jericho fans as part of the company’s long-term commitment to enthusiastic customer service (the polar opposite of how fans say they view CBS), large pooled orders being shipped to CBS have doubled and doubled again. Some customers place specific one-pound orders, but many are opting for an inventive $5 contribution.

Braverman also added a dedicated Jericho page and provides fans regular updates and a total accounting of all orders shipped to CBS.

What started as 1,000 pounds of nuts per day has steadily increased to 2,000 pounds. Today, Braverman anticipates that total might double. Given NutsOnline isn’t the only shop shipping nuts to CBS, it’s anybody’s guess how many nuts just might be stacking up in the CBS mailroom.

“We weren’t fans (of Jericho), but we are now!!!” adds Braverman enthusiastically, saying that he intends to start watching it as soon as he has a chance. “My cousin just watched a show online and he says it is great!”

Like Braverman, our team has been amazed how handfuls of fans quickly put together the largest show protest in television history. These fans are loyal, smart, self-funded, and increasingly organized. In addition to drawing from the 8 million strong Jericho fan base, they are securing fans from other shows, appealing to how those fans might feel if Heroes, Lost, or similar shows were let go like Jericho.

Within days, they’ve demonstrated better media savvy than most working public relations professionals, capturing write-ups in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, MediaWeek, and a growing number of mainstream media outlets dazzled by their commitment to save the show (not to mention the novelty of the NUTS campaign and other ideas). They’ve even raised eyebrows among some political consultants with their ability to pull together a highly motivated campaign team and employ social media better than many presidential candidates.

They’ve exhibited tremendous show loyalty, investing money that may have gone to former advertisers had the show not been cancelled. And, they are quickly learning how to organize everything from in-person protests to pricing full-page advertisements in Variety Magazine and USA Today. They’ve even encouraged some of the show’s stars to add comments on the CBS Jericho message boards — first Michael Gaston (who plays Mayor Gray) and then Brad Beyer (who plays Stanely Richmond).

In sum, there are dozens of lessons to be learned from this living case study: from the power of customer service as exhibited by NutsOnline (give customers what they want with nothing more than the hope NutsOnline will be remembered) to how social media might make an impact in an all-digital media age.

The bottom line: Jericho fans might be sending nuts to CBS, but they are hardly nuts themselves. For dozens of links to various spontaneously generated fan sites, check out our other Jericho posts here and check the tally the online petition created to save the show.


Sunday, May 20

Saving Jericho: Seven Solutions For CBS

If Nina Tassler, president of CBS Entertainment, is wondering why providing "closure to the compelling drama that was the Jericho story" does not seem to be enough to stop the hemorrhaging caused by the loyal fans of Jericho, she need look no further than the proven practice of crisis communication. Asking the right questions will always lead to effective solutions.

First and foremost, the network has to acknowledge something went wrong. Given the relentless activity at sites like Jericho Rally Point, Jericho Lives, and Save Jericho, something obviously did go wrong.

Add to these sites the increasing number of social and mainstream media outlets taking notice:, SoundtheSirens, and TV Guide forums. Or try a simple "Save Jericho" search. That's all it takes to see the gravity of the situation even without the NUTS campaign. (We hope CBS donates to food shelters).

Since there is no question that the drama attached to save Jericho efforts will continue to catch fire, making the CBS decision sound like a comedy of one error after another, it's time to ask how the broadcaster can stop a siege of loyal viewers and then transform bad public relations into network performance.

Solution One: Make A Commitment. Since "ending" the show does not seem to be enough, give it a limited run commitment with six shows squeezed somewhere into next season's line up. The announcement would provide CBS enough breathing room to get something done besides husking nuts. Considering the show left off with a major battle between New Bern and Jericho, it would be all too easy to drop any actors who don't wish to come back.

Solution Two: Fast Track DVD Season One. Everybody heard Tassler say that CBS is a business, so then maybe CBS could act like a business. Fast tracking the first season of Jericho to DVD would revive the fan base lost during the midseason break, generate cash flow, capture new fans (because some will be curious to see what they missed), and provide a better measurement than ratings alone.

Solution Three: Restore Fans Online. Dozens of fans, especially "save Jericho" leaders, were allegedly kicked from CBS forums. If there is to be any hope to restore peace, they could be reinstated on the condition they do not spam other show sites. These fans are not the enemies, but rather CBS allies who never thought the network lost its edge (because it created the show they love). They are also the ones who might not vote up ratings, but they are very willing to vote with pocketbooks.

Solution Four: Merchandising. Merchandising remains one of the biggest misses for Jericho this year. CBS could reverse any lackluster or perhaps non-existent show merchandising by involving fans in the design process (maybe a contest). Some have demonstrated a knack for producing merchandise that needs no more than a little polish.

Solution Five: Public Relations. Bringing the show back now would be a big public relations coup that will be talked about for months by entertainment news outlets because it would represent a dramatic shift in industry thinking. As I often say on this blog, we cannot choose what people say about us, but we can choose how we react to it. The appropriate reaction is not to look at fans as raving lunatics, but rather as living proof that CBS can create endearing programs.

Solution Six: Drop Subscription-Based Videos. There seems to be plenty of evidence to support the idea that a monthly subscription to multiple shows is not going to work in the age of new media. Single purchase downloads are much more effective because they allow the consumer to make the choice. The network could potentially make more money and the fans would be happier. Apple, YouTube, and Joost have already set this as the standard for on-demand digital media.

Solution Seven: Learn From Past Mistakes. CBS is not alone. Mid-season breaks almost killed several shows this year. While mid-season breaks might be palatable for shows that are largely based on a single standalone episode like House, CSI, and Two And A Half Men, they clearly don't work with serials. When fans miss a week, they are less motivated to return.

So there you have it. With seven solutions, I believe CBS could be in a prime position to turn a public relations nightmare into next season's leader, especially as more people learn what it was about Jericho that the fans found so addictive.

To me, it all seems pretty easy to figure out. Jericho was much more than a sci-fi "fallout" thriller. For many fans, from what I've read, it was a testament to being a family-oriented American: a small town consisting of top-drawer actors struggling against the odds to remain loyal to the very best qualities this country can offer. Who can blame them for liking that?

In times like these, when government sometimes seems too polarized to show forward motion and the evening news focuses too much on people who make the wrong decisions, is it any wonder why a few million people found hope in the citizens of Jericho as they made sacrifices to make the right moral decisions? At least, that's the way I see it.


Saturday, May 19

Going Nuts: CBS In Crisis

If there is a tipping point between viral fun and crisis communication, CBS seems to have found it. As if a battle with The National Association of REALTORS over a CBS "60 Minutes" story isn't bad enough, the network is trying desperately to prevent an all-out war with its own customers, viewers who became enamored with the television series "Jericho."

Originally, Nina Tassler, president of CBS Entertainment, took the hard view, telling the Vancouver Sun and other media outlets ... "that show would still be on the air if the audience was there. No programmer wants to p.i.s.s. off their audience. When that happens, it's unfortunate. Part of what we try to do is create viewer loyalty, and then build on that ... But we're running a business."

Today, on CBS Jericho message boards, her bluntness has been dulled and her talk-tough approach humbled.

"Please know that canceling a television series is a very difficult decision ... It is a show we loved too. We truly appreciate the commitment you made to the series and we are humbled by your disappointment. In the coming weeks, we hope to develop a way to provide closure to the compelling drama that was the Jericho story."

What changed? A combination of viral fan campaigns that demonstrate the relative ease of organizing an army of angry customers online. The site includes all CBS phone numbers, e-mails, and addresses; affiliate and advertiser contact information; links to an online petition growing by 10,000 viewers a day; sample letters; show ratings; and even links to other networks to encourage them to buy Jericho.

On any given show cancellation, maybe a single viral idea might stick. Not so with Jericho. In addition to the NUTS campaign we reported on yesterday, fans have been busy.

They have made fax sheets, T-shirts, and posters featuring CBS "nuking" the show; added links to where you can order "nuts" online; solicited celebrities; threatened CBS boycotts; spammed other show message boards (resulting in scores of CBS fans being removed from the CBS Jericho site); and dozens of other ideas, many of which are being promoted on the CBS Jericho message boards and hundreds of blogs.

The fallout being caused by hundreds of thousands of viewers (a fraction of millions who watched it) and CBS is one that all major networks can take note of: show promotion and social media represent a double-edged sword. It may increase viewership and buy-in but it also evolves viewers into customers.

Ratings conducted by Nielsen are no longer the only measure of a fan base. Consumers are recording their favorite shows in record numbers; watching full episodes with an online platform that, ironically, CBS provided; or waiting to catch up when an entire season is released on DVD. Personally, I'm surprised Tassler and her staff didn't factor this, along with the fanaticism of fans they did create, into the equation. First run ratings are seemingly becoming one of the least effective measures for successful programming.

The mistake, what some are calling the worst cancellation error in television history, is taking a major toll on CBS. Enough so that the latest rumor is that if CBS doesn't release the show to another network, it may produce a 2-hour series finale to tie up loose ends.

I'm no longer convinced it will work. The finale idea might have been successful a few days ago, but now organized fans seems less willing to settle after being ignored then talked-tough too then booted from CBS message boards and now seemingly placated by the executives. Tensions are so high that even CBS affiliate Eyewitness News 12 in Kansas has defected to the customer camp.

In sum, this entire event is demonstrating that passive viewers have evolved into active customers. As such, networks might think twice about going to war against them. Such wars only make advertisers and shareholders extremely anxious, nervous, and less than impressed.


Friday, May 18

Getting Nuts: CBS Over Jericho

What would you do with 22,000 pounds of nuts? That's what CBS executives might have to ask themselves if even half of the Jericho fans who have already signed an online petition make good on a grassroots effort that calls for viewers to send in “nuts.”

According to some fans, sending nuts is the best response to the show’s cancellation because it originates with character Jake Green (Skeet Ulrich) borrowing the historic phrase in response to a final offer of surrender from a hostile neighboring town. Of course, the response, “nuts,” is tied to General Anthony C. McAuliffe’s answer to a German demand for surrender in World War II.

According to various accounts, when McAuliffe was told of the German demand for surrender he said "Aw, nuts". At a loss for an official reply, Lt. Col. Kinnard suggested that his first remark summed the situation up well, which was agreed to by the others. The official reply: "To the German Commander, NUTS!, The American Commander" was typed and delivered by Colonel Harper to the German delegation. Harper had to explain the meaning of the word to the Germans.

Some fans say they feel the same way, cut off by CBS because they blame the company’s executives for the show’s lackluster ratings. As pointed out by Showbuzz , many viewers abandoned the show only after it went on a long midseason hiatus, much like "Lost" on ABC and "Heroes" on NBC.

This is not the first time CBS has garnered negative reactions related to the show. Fans were upset when CBS did not deliver on its promise to fully produce side stories online and when it removed a fan-generated Wikipedia entry to retain control over what details they wanted fans to remember. Now, some fans have accused CBS of deleting posts in the CBS-hosted Jericho forum.

Since, discussions of the show’s cancellation have spilled onto the main CBS discussion area, which is dominated by fan complaints and pleas at various times. Not to be outdone, fans of other shows on CBS, which were also cancelled, are following suit, creating an interesting statement about social media.

With growing fervor, networks are hearing louder and louder protests over show cancellations that would have barely received mention 20 years ago. Now, due to increased consumer buy-in with rich online content, forums, and deleted scenes, broadcasters might find it more difficult to make decisions without consumer consent. In sum, fans become more vested than ever.

Public outcry is also linked to the knowledge that some shows can be saved. One of the most famous cases was Seth MacFarlane’s Family Guy. FOX reversed its cancellation after Cartoon Network reruns revived interest and consumers bought 2.2 million DVDs. Of course, it’s always easier to revive a show with animated characters than a large ensemble cast like Jericho. Nuts.


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