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Saturday, October 20, 2007

A Monster Communicator Interview: Rich Becker



Rich Becker of Copywrite Ink needs no introduction to Jericho fans. He began writing about Jericho shortly after the cancellation and continues to write occasional articles even now.

I wanted to ask him some Jericho questions while we await CBS' announcement of Jericho's second season. As always, Rich impresses me. I appreciate you taking time for this interview Rich.



1. What makes Richard Becker tick?

There is nothing like an open-ended question. Nothing
and everything at the same time. Ha.

I fell in love with communication a long time ago
because I have a passion for learning about
interesting people and new things. Advertising, public
relations, journalism, and now social media
continually open doors to meet people, experience new
products, learn about various industries, and listen
to some amazing (and a few not so amazing) ideas. Even
before I committed myself to the industry, I had
already dabbled as a writer, poet, artist, and even
had an opportunity to design a company logo and work
on a casino advertisement while still in high school.

Ironically, I almost did not go into communication. I
studied psychology my first year in college and earned
enough credits in that field that I could earn a
second degree with about more two classes.

Other than that. My family makes me tick. We have a
lot of fun.


2. If there were no Internet where you be and what
would you be doing today?

The same, but with many more location limits and fewer
opportunities. When I first started Copywrite, Ink. in
1991, the Internet was still in its infancy. Most
material, whether for publications or advertising
agencies, was delivered by hand on a 3.5-inch floppy
disk, along with a hard copy just in case. Looking
back, there was a significant amount of time invested
in simply driving across town dropping off and pick up
assignments.

What the Internet has done has expanded our
capabilities to work with anyone in the world as if
they were next door. And, with the advent of social
media, it has provided a new communication tool for
which my company is very well suited. As we develop
more clientele out of this market, we’re considering
additional markets as a base of operations.


3. What interests you the most about Jericho from a
consumer marketing perspective?

Social media continues to provide people with an
opportunity to connect and collectively promote or
enact change as consumers, within companies, in
communities, and all over the world. The majority of
businesses tend to underestimate this, but eventually
they will have to participate in social media on some
level.

What fascinated me about Jericho was how quickly the
fan base came together as a show cancellation protest.
Within weeks, fans from all over the world were able
to collectively protest the decision of a major
network. Now, my interest is in seeing if this fan
base can promote the show they saved by securing
enough viewers to keep it alive. If Jericho fans can
do that, they will have effectively created an
influential model for others to follow.


4. If you wrote a pitch to ask people to watch Jericho
what would it say?

Well, it wouldn’t be a pitch as much as it would be a
complete rebranding of the way the show is marketed.
It is not a "nuclear apocalypse drama” as much as it
is a “small town survival” story in an alternate
universe that tests our country.

This might change during the truncated second season,
but it’s currently about how people react and cope
facing disaster as individuals and as a community. The
cause of the coup is pivotal to the plot, but most of
the story relates to how people handle the disaster
response. Anyway, when I do talk to people about the
show, their eyes light up with interest after the
"nuclear apocalypse drama” myth is dispelled.


5. Why do you think CBS is not actively promoting
Jericho and the DVD?

Supposedly that have a print advertising campaign, but
I haven’t seen it. So I can’t really speak for CBS.
What I can say is that by not aggressively promoting
it the message that they are sending is that they are
not committed to the show.

In sum, they want to retain the option to buy, but are
not ready to commit to the purchase. Unfortunately,
this is undermining CBS’s credibility.


6. Do you think CBS understands consumer marketing as
it relates to Jericho?

I don’t think many people understand consumer
marketing. In CBS’s case, they have missed multiple
opportunities to corral and help organize the fan
base, basically leaving it up to the fans to figure it
out. That is not how they sold their show cancellation
reversal. They sold it as a partnership and then went
right back to treating fans as passive viewers with
exception to a few cosmetic improvements to the Web
site.

It’s a shame, because inside of reinvigorating the fan
base to put all that energy into positive outcomes,
they allowed it to create a general feeling of
mistrust. The relatively few mixed messages they have
put out do nothing but to erode that level of trust.


7. How could CBS use Jericho fans' marketing efforts
to their benefit?

There are so many ways they could have and not all of
them are still viable. What CBS failed to recognize is
managing a fan base is not unlike managing a
grassroots effort. They could have engaged the fans,
involving them in marketing efforts, and supplying
them with the material, art, etc. that the fan base
has been asking for all along and energized them to
promote the show on the Internet and, even more
importantly, off the Internet.

Now, especially because they missed yet another
opportunity with the DVD launch, their best bet is to
wait until season two is on the air. With a truncated
short season however, I’m not sure how much they will
do. If they want Jericho to succeed, they need to
focus on a message that appeals to new viewers, not
the existing fan base, and provide the material fans
need to promote the show.


8. How much, if any effect, do you think Jericho
bloggers have on CBS? New viewers?

I think Jericho bloggers have had more impact on other
networks than CBS. Other networks, and I’ve spoken
with a few, recognize that fan engagement will be key
to marketing shows in the future. Bloggers are part of
that.

The reason is simple enough. People who care the most
about Jericho read these blogs faithfully. Many,
including, Jericho Monster, are mini Jericho online
publications that are largely dedicated exclusively to
the show. One thing is for certain, CBS might
appreciate Jericho bloggers even more if they abandon
the show.


9. Do you think CBS' foray into social media will be
successful?

They don’t have a choice but to be successful with
television advertising budgets down, its measures
questioned at every turn, and some programmers seeing
webcasts outpace regular programming.

Some days I think that it might take a major network
closing its doors to motivate the others toward
convergence. I’m not saying that network will be CBS,
but I haven’t seen a single successful model unveiled
from any of them.


10. Will you come back again and do another interview
about other subjects?

Anytime, Jane.

11. Any closing comments?

Sure. Right now, as it stands, the success of Jericho
falls squarely on the shoulders of the fans. Their
ability to get along is paramount to this success.
That might not be fair or even reasonable, but that is
what is.

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

Rich, Do you have any ideas on how we are suppose to reach the Nielsen families????
That's what Nina said we had to do.
Everything else is a mute point.
Thanks!

Rich said...

Hey Anon,

Nielsen families are picked up as part of the general public. There is no other way to target them specifically because Nielsen families, while they are Nielsen families, are not supposed to tell anyone.

Can you imagine if everyone knew who they were? They would be bombarded with advertising and leveraged by friends.

Besides, I don't think Nina Tassler said that specifically; any network that is relying on ratings as a measure will be dead in five years.

Best,
Rich

flutterby10 said...

I enjoyed reading every word in this interview with Rich.

Now, if only CBS would take to heart some of the points Rich has made concerning the network's involvement in promotion, we could have a much more successful campaign to advertise the return of Jericho and acquire new viewers.

Jericho Rangers will continue to fight for their show....CBS, will you help us????

Balceroregontr said...

Unfortunately the Jericho fandom seems to be a mirror of our larger society. People have fallen into the mindset of if you are not for us you are against us. There is room for everyone here if we all respect each other. CBS's lack of communication and poor moderation of their message board is compounding these problems.
Debby from SC

Jericho Saved said...

Thank you all for commenting.
Anon, reaching Nielsen families means promoting Jericho online and off. Maybe some Nielsen families will be caught in our net.

Debby,
You're right. The fandom has become an us against them mindset. If Jericho is cancelled again I fear this will why. We need everybody working together.

Flutterby,
I'm not counting on CBS to do anything. They continue to leave all the promoting to us.

Rich said...

Jane,

You're the best. I forgot to thank you and let you know how honored I was that you asked to contribute. So thank you because I am honored.

All my best,
Rich

terocious said...

Rich,

Thanks again for taking the time to teach us and be a friend to our mission. I have enjoyed getting to know more about You, your company and its long history online.

Jericho Saved said...

Awwww Rich. Sorry to correct you but I'm sure you're the best! It is I who is honored that you would agree to this interview. You have been so good to and for Jericho fans. Thank you.

Terocious,

How right you are. Rich is a true friend to our mission.

Vicki said...

Thanks again Rich! I always enjoy reading what you have to say.

It sure would be nice if CBS would wake up and smell the coffee!

Hey, can we get you a job in the marketing dept of CBS? lol

LisiBee said...

Vicki, at this point I think we all should apply for jobs in CBS' marketing department, since we're doing the work for them.

Jane, thank you for another fantastic interview. This has been quite a week for the good ones, hasn't it? :)

Rich, once again, thank you so much for continuing to share your expertise with us. I can only hope that everyone takes your advice to heart.

Anonymous said...

I am anonymous only because Google hates me. This is Briarpatch, Charlene. Thank you, Rich. I so appreciate your advice and the help you give us understanding what CBS seems to be doing. Lisibee, What marketing department? Evidently, they quit.

Anonymous said...

judist63 here, I am anonymous for the same reason, google hates me too. I wish that someone at the network would really start to listen to us fans. I am so tired of the talking out of one side of their faces while saying something different out of the other. I fear that when all is said and done, they will blame us for not doing what they asked, even tho we did! I find all this BS very disappointing. If they would have done what they were supposed to do with the reruns over the summer, I think that the new seven eps along with some very creative advertising such as some of what rubberpoultry has created, would have ensured the long life of Jericho to come. I honestly don't know how Les Moonves has kept his job. He is definately way overpaid in my assumption and estimation. Thank you Rich for always being and doing exactly what you say! It is refreshing to come across someone who has morals again in the media. Great interview!

auntvonna said...

Rich,
I too have faithfully read your column and appreciate your insight and advice! I respect everything you've had to say and am so glad we've had you as our friend during this campaign.

Another wonderful interview Jane!

azlady said...

Rich:
I always enjoy your articles and they have been such an educational experience for me as well. Thank you so much for giving the Jericho campaign so much attention. Thank you and Jane for this great interview.

AmyV said...

I completely agree with you, Rich -

The network said the fans needed to do this, and then showed they really meant it by doing virtually nothing so far as I can see.

The only thing I've seen out of them is the production blog, which, as I posted about today, didn't have much to post after production wrapped. And I'm betting it was the cast and crew who came up with that idea, not CBS.

The network appears to have blown a wonderful opportunity to get partners for life out of Jericho fans. Now, if Jericho fails, they risk losing a very large number of this fanbase who will be so disenchanted with the network that they'll never return.

— AmyV